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Famous Tragedies at Sea

The presentation begins with the most famous maritime accident, the RMS Titanic, then the largest ship in the world which sank on its maiden voyage with huge loss of life.

Less well-known, four years later her sister ship, the HMHS Britannic, serving as a hospital ship, also sank. She was the largest ship lost during World War One.

Another victim of “the war to end all wars” was the RMS Lusitania, which took her ill-fated last journey in 1915. She was sunk by Germany’s newest and, as of then still untried weapon, the U-boat.

The 1930s saw the boom of ocean liner travel as the great liners reached their pinnacle of luxury, speed and service. In what became a source of great national, France built the most majestic and glamorous liner ever: SS Normandie. Unfortunately, World War II brought the industry to an abrupt halt, and led to the sinking of the magnificent SS Normandie in the harbor of Manhattan.

After the world recovered from World War II, ocean liners experienced one last period of glamorous ocean travel. Determined to recreate an earlier grandeur, the Italian Line launched a new flagship, SS Andrea Doria. For 3 years in the 1950’s she was the most notable ship sailing the southern route, to and from New York, through the Mediterranean. She sank after being rammed by the Swedish Stockholm near Nantucket in July 1956. Her sinking was the first time such a catastrophe was filmed by circling airplanes.

In his inimitable way, René Silvin will bring these ships, which will forever hold our fascination and imagination, back to life.

Watch the virtual version of this lecture here, as presented to the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County on May 5, 2020.