The Other Sister: HMHS Britannic

HMHS Britannic Courtesy Wikipedia

HMHS Britannic, Olympic and Titanic‘s sister ship and youngest in a trio, was built at Harland and Wolff located in Belfast. After the Titanic disaster Britannic underwent a number of changes. In addition to an adequate amount of lifeboats, her watertight bulkhead were extended higher than Titanic‘s had been.

On February 26, 1914 she was launched and would begin her fitting out. But unlike her sisters she would never be destined to wear the garb of the White Star Line. No…For the rest of her short life she would operate as hospital ship, ferrying war casualties of the Great War, back to England. Britannic, on her maiden voyage, left Liverpool on December 23, 1915. Destination: Mudros. She arrived there 8 days later. Aboard the ship was Violet Jessop, a Titanic stewardess who had also been aboard the Olympic when she collided with the HMS Hawke. Jessop was now serving as a nurse.

It was the sixth trip. Britannic had left Southampton November 12, 1916 under the command of Captain Charles Alfred Bartlett. Now nine days later an explosion rattled the ship. The ship shook violently. To this day no one can agree on what caused it, whether it was a mine or a torpedo. The distress call was sent out and the HMS Scourge was soon on her way.The HMS Heroic had also altered her course to aid Britannic. On board people who were eating breakfast when it suddenly quieted. Others some place else grabbed their lifebelts. When it became apparent that something was terribly wrong they began heading up on deck to board lifeboats. When lifeboats began leaving Jessop grabbed her toothbrush before boarding a boat. Why, you may ask, did she take a toothbrush of all things? She remembered how much she had missed it after Titanic.

Violet Jessop Français : Violet Jessop, hôtess...

Violet Jessop Courtesy Wikipedia

On the bridge Bartlett tried to beach the ship on the nearby island of Kea. This only caused more flooding. Also aiding in the flooding was the fact that portholes had been left open and water began to spill in.

A terrible tragedy struck that compounded the situation. Two lifeboats were sucked into moving, massive propellers which had now surfaced. It killed and wounded the boats’ occupants who were unable to get away. Jessop was aboard one of these boats. Fortunately, she was saved. Bartlett ordered the engines stopped, saving a third boat from becoming like its two predecessors. The call to abandon ship was finally given. Britannic took her final plunge at 9:07 AM. It had taken 55 minutes for another of White Star’s massive ships to die.

Some of the survivors of the Britannic aboard ...

Britannic Survivors Courtesy Wikipedia

At approximately 10 AM the Heroic arrived on the scene of the disaster. She lowered her boats and took on a total of 493 survivors. The Scourge also arrived to take on 339 survivors. These two vessels were not the first to arrive though. Instead that honor went to a Greek fisherman who managed to pick up survivors. Scourge soon left for Piraeus, leaving another ship, the Foxhound, to take on 193 survivors that Scourge had no room for. Some survivors from the Heroic and Scourge were transferred to the HMS Duncan. The ratio of survivors to those lost was 1032:30.

Britannic was left to rest in the Aegean Sea, another lost sister.

Source : The Olympic Class Ships

9 thoughts on “The Other Sister: HMHS Britannic

  1. Great to read about this, I recently visited the Titanic exhibition in Singapore learning about the sister ships, however, no word what happened to those ships.


  2. Thanks for stopping by. I’m glad you liked the post. If you want to learn more about the ships I would recommend The Olympic Class Ships by Mark Chirnside. I finished reading it not too long ago and it was packed full of info.


    • Yes, she seemed to have a nose for adventure…That or she was a Jonah. Her biography is very interesting, but some people thinks she tends to exaggerate. I haven’t formed an opinion yet.


    • I couldn’t speak for the other ships, but I remember seeing a photo of Titanic during her sea trials. It was a shot of her wake after she had turned and it looked like she had done pretty well for herself. With a ship simulator I have found it is much easier to change course with a smaller vessel than with a large cruise ship, but in either case it didn’t take terribly long to change course. But then I may not be following the nautical Rules of the Road, either. 😉


  3. Pingback: Violet Jessop, the 20th Century Lady Jonah: Part 7 – Sinking of the HMHS Britannic | Impressions

  4. Pingback: Violet Jessop, the 20th Century Lady Jonah: Part 6 – Aboard the HMHS Britannic | Impressions

  5. Pingback: Violet Jessop, the 20th Century Lady Jonah: Part 8 – After the Britannic Disaster | Impressions

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