Like her equally ill-fated sister ship, the Britannic was also supposed to be “unsinkable”. The ship’s design was allegedly improved for possible defects after the sinking of the Titanic four years earlier. However, the luxury liner, which was requisitioned before its maiden voyage by the UK Government, went down in just 57 minutes in 1916, more than three hours faster than the Titanic.
Around 30 people died and 1,000 survived when the ship went down off the Greek coast.
For many years, historians have argued whether the ship was hit by a German torpedo or struck by a mine.
In Channel 5 documentary, “Titanic’s Lost Sister”, a team of scientists and researchers attempted to prove once and for all whether it was a German mine or torpedo which inflicted the fatal damage.
Speaking in the 1998 documentary, Simon Mills, a historian and author said: “At the time of the sinking, everybody thought it was a torpedo.”
Mr Mills said: “It had to be. They were at war [World War One].
“The Germans wanted to sink this ship. It was a powerful competitor.
“They had to sink it and to torpedo it was the only way to do it. As time went by it wasn’t quite so clear cut.
“Even the English officer carrying out the inquiry said that there was no definite evidence one way or another – mine or torpedo.”
The documentary showed footage filmed 60 years after the sinking in 1916 with Jacques Cousteau, a French Naval Officer who gathered together some of the Brittanic’s remaining survivors in an attempt to uncover what happened that day.
Mr Cousteau asked the survivors their opinion of whether the ship was torpedoed or if it hit a mine.
One survivor responded: “Oh! it was torpedoed, without a doubt.”
Another added: “Without a doubt, torpedoed.”
The footage shows nearly all but one survivor out of six people claiming it was a torpedo that hit the ship except one who claimed it was a mine, “without a shadow of a doubt”.
However, according to a 2016 article in The Telegraph, the Britannic, the nation’s largest ship, had “struck a German mine in the calm waters of the Mediterranean 40 miles south of Athens, en route to the British Army base on the Greek island of Lemnos”.
The Britannic, described by the White Star Line as “a perfect a specimen of man’s creative power as it is possible to conceive”, capsized 57 minutes after “hitting the mine”.