Divers recover 'Lusitania' items

 

A DIVING expedition on the wreck of the Lusitaniahas recovered some key pieces of equipment, which were handed over to the receiver of wrecks last night.

A bronze telemotor, which was part of the ship’s steering mechanism, was among the items recovered from the vessel, which sank 11 miles off Kinsale Head, Co Cork, in 1915 after it was torpedoed by a German submarine.

The dive team, led by Eoin McGarry and sponsored by National Geographic, also recovered a telegraph, which controlled the speed and direction of the ship, and several portholes.

Receiver of wrecks and Customs and Excise officer for Cork Paddy O’Sullivan said he would be holding the items until such time as title was established.

Archaeologist Laurence Dunne, who was assigned under licence to supervise the diving expedition, said both the telemotor and telegraph would help to establish some of the facts surrounding the ship’s loss.

Mr Dunne told The Irish Timesthat the telegraph’s needle would show the direction in which the ship was heading after the last command was issued.

Some 1,198 people died, including gallery director Sir Hugh Lane, and 764 passengers survived the sinking, which is said to have been instrumental in pulling the US into the first World War.

Claims the ship was carrying munitions and that British intelligence was involved in a cover-up have contributed to the controversy surrounding the loss.

Mr O’Sullivan was appointed receiver of wrecks under the 1993 Salvage and Wreck Act, and is empowered to mediate between salvors and owner or owners with items salvaged in Irish waters. The Lusitaniahull is owned by US businessman Gregg Bemis jnr, who was involved in lengthy court actions to establish his title.