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1930s & Earlier / Sinking of RMS Lusitania 1915
The RMS Lusitania was a British passenger liner that was torpedoed in the First World War by the German submarine U-20 off the coast of Ireland on May 7, 1915. It sank in just 18 minutes. A total of 1,198 of 1,959 passengers perished, including 128 of the 197 Americans on board. Despite the large number of American casualties, U.S. president Woodrow Wilson only issued a formal complaint to the German government. He was heavily criticized in the British press for not declaring war. For years the British government insisted the Lusitania contained no war material, but a dive in 2006 found stores of ammunition. (Thus it was a legitimate war target for German submarines.) There is only one remaining Lusitania survivor, a 93-year-old Englishwoman, who was just three months old when the ship was sunk. The last American survivor died on April 12, 2008.