HMHS Britannic was one of three Olympic-class ships, along with the Titanic, which sank in 1912, and Olympic, which retired in 1934, built for the White Star Line by the same shipyard – Harland and Wolff.
Since 1916 it has lain 400ft below the surface of the Kea Channel in the Aegean Sea after hitting a German mine, but plans have been banded around, 100 or so years on, to turn it into a mainstream scuba attraction.
Oceanographers, divers, and descendants of crew members gathered at an international conference a couple of years ago to discuss plans for the vessel.
It now lies around 400ft below the surface but access to the shipwreck has always been strictly controlled by the Greek government, and dive permits are rarely granted. It is a designated “war grave”, as 30 people lost their lives when it sank during the First World War, but that status could be overturned as the cash-strapped Greek government looks for new ways to attract tourist spending.
There are ideas to make it part of an underwater theme park as there are many other wrecks in the area.
The Britannic was intended to serve as a trans-Atlantic ocean liner, but shortly after war broke out it was commandeered as a hospital ship. In November 1916, while en route to pick up wounded British soldiers from the island of Lemnos, the boat hit a German mine.
Like the Titanic, which met its fate in 1912, the Britannic was dubbed “unsinkable” by its designers – but it took just 55 minutes to disappear into the Aegean.
The idea of using it to attract tourists was originally discussed in 2008, and £2.8 million of European Union funding was secured for a museum, hotel and diving school, but the plans fell through when Greece’s financial crisis hit.
A chap called Simon Mills bought the wreck for £15,000 in 1996, said at the time “Britannic may be out of sight, but she’s not out of mind. Everyone is fascinated by the Titanic and that explains some of the interest in Britannic. However, she has her own story to tell.”
However, when you’re out sailing with us the best I can do is show you the location as being 400ft down is a tad too deep for us to don the scuba gear and get in to see it. The actual location of the wreck is at the north end of the Kea Channel between the islands of Kea and Makronisos.
Hope you found that interesting?