When the Britannic, Sister Ship of the Titanic sank during World War I!


A Brief History

On November 21 in 1916 the new and improved version of the Titanic became the largest ship sunk during World War I!

Digging Deeper

Digging deeper, we find the third of the Olympic class ocean liners having been built after the Olympic and Titanic and actually being a bit bigger, incorporating new design features to prevent a disaster like the 1912 loss of Titanic.

Entering service in December of 1915, she was almost 900 feet long and displacing 53,000 tons, the Britannic was fitted as a hospital ship for wartime service and was carrying 1066 souls on the fateful day.  Sailing in the Aegean Sea the mighty vessel was on her 6th wartime voyage.  Shortly after 8 am the giant ship shuddered from a massive explosion, never positively identified, but most likely from a mine or a torpedo.

Despite upgraded safety features, such as watertight bulkheads raised much higher than Titanic’s and a large part of the hull being doubled, the doomed ship sank in only an hour.  Usually such quick sinking leads to massive loss of life, but the improvements that did work well concerned the lifeboats, with increased capacity (3600, more than enough!) and improved launching equipment.  The lessons learned from the Titanic disaster resulted in the loss of only 30 lives (of 1066 on board).  For a wartime sinking, that is pretty impressive.

Of course, the relationship to the Titanic creates even more notoriety than usual, and with it goes the rumors and myths of the ship being somehow cursed.  A popular rumor is that the ship’s name was slated to be Gigantic, and was changed because of the sinking of the Titanic.  Actually, this rumor is not true and the Britannic’s name was decided on prior to the 1912 disaster.  For such a huge and expensive ship, a lifespan of less than 2 years is not much return on investment! At least it made a few voyages and did not sink on its maiden voyage like its more famous sister.  Still, the ship took 5 years to build and served just under 2; not so good.  At least the first of the 3 enormous Olympic class ships, the Olympic, served safely for 24 years and escaped the fate of her sisters.

Historical Evidence

For more information on these three massive ocean liners, please read the following:

Titanic & Her Sisters Olympic & Britannic (Hardcover)

List Price: $29.98
New From: $46.63 USD In Stock
Used from: $9.92 USD In Stock

Olympic, Titanic, Britannic: An Illustrated History of the Olympic Class Ships (Hardcover)

List Price: $39.95
New From: $65.18 USD In Stock
Used from: $25.00 USD In Stock


Major Dan

Major Dan is a retired veteran of the United States Marine Corps. He served during the Cold War.

  • A Byers

    I was not aware of any sister ships of the Titanic or their fate.

  • Lynnette B.

    I was surprised to learn that the Titanic had a sister. It is a terrible coincidence that they both sunk, and I feel bad for the company that built them.

  • Tyler Cates

    I was not aware that the Titanic had a sister. The fact that they both sunk is awful.

  • karen

    No I was not aware. Thank you for the info

  • Cbierman

    I was not aware that the Titanic had a sister ship, but I did know that the company that owned it, White Star Line, was having more troubles than just the Titanic. Kind of like the modern day Carnival Curse (I mean cruises).

  • ly

    I did not realize the Titanic had a sister ship, interesting!

  • Brent F.

    I did not know that the Titanic had a sister ship. I think it has a very interesting story to it though.

  • Brooke K.

    I was not aware that the Titanic had a sister ship that also sunk. That’s very interesting!

  • T Goff

    I watched a History or Discovery show about it several years ago. At least they learned lessons from the Titanic and saved lives.

  • N Craig

    I had never heard of this sister ship to the Titanic. Very interesting post.

  • kfraelich

    At least they did learn something from the sinking of the Titanic and only 30 people died.

  • Amber J

    I was not aware that there was a sister ship to the titanic. That is very interesting to me. Ironic!!!

  • Melissa Smith

    I did not know that the Titanic had a sister ship. Luckily, they learned from the sinking of the Titanic and had more lifeboats on board so they only experienced minimal losses of life.

  • CLM

    Yes I was aware that the Titanic had a sister. I thought it lasted longer than what they said it did though.

  • Kelly F

    I love the story of Titanic and everything about it. I actually plan to go to the science center in Cleveland and see the Titanic exhibit there! (Even though I have seen it before). Also, I spent my whole day yesterday watching a Titanic special on the Discovery Channel. This special is the only reason why I know about Titanic’s sister ship. During the program, they were trying to determine what all lead to Titanic’s sinking, and whether or not the ship’s design was flawed.

  • Lukas Jachno

    Yes, I was aware of that Titanic had a sister, did not know what the purpose of this ship was though

  • Shelby K.

    I was aware of this ship, and I knew that it sank. But I didn’t know it was a sister ship of the Titanic.

  • K Hummel

    I had always heard that the titanic had a sister ship, and I think I remember hearing that is sunk, but I never knew what it was for or how it sank.

  • Tom Kubrak

    It is quite unfortunate that two very efficient ships that can hold a ton of cargo and people end up with the same fate of sinking.

  • Alex Guthrie

    Well it’s hard to defend a torpedo…Just an ironic fate of the ship that it also happened to sink.

  • Mark Kovalsky

    I never knew that the Titanic had a sister ship, happy to have learned that from this article!

  • Hannah Louk

    I had no idea that there were two other ships like the Titanic. It’s sad that the Britannic sank though

  • Rhonda Donda

    Glad they incorporated larger life rafts.

  • Mike Rinicella

    Without this happening, more lifeboats could have never existed on current ships.

  • Tevin Knerr

    Interesting i’v never heard of this ship. They did a good job in saving almost all of those lives within only an hour , that’s incredible !


    Truly amazing that so few lives were lost! — DAVID WARDLE

  • Heather H

    a shame she only lasted 2 years

  • Gino Iacampo

    It’s shocking that that many people were able to survive. For this point in time and the fact that they were struck by a torpedo, I would’ve expected a lot more, but they were ready for danger with all those life boats.

  • A.T


  • Natalie Sholtis

    It;s good to know that safety was increased on these massive ships and that the Britannic had a little bit better results.

  • Jake Woolf

    Difficult to say if the return on investment was worth it; I would need to see figures detailing lives saved (from medicine practiced on the ship). If many lives were saved, it might be easier to justify.

  • BS

    Sucks it only last a couple years great more lives were saved!

  • Alexis Boyle

    If we learned anything from the past I hope boat building has been one of them

  • Samantha Easterling

    Didn’t know the titanic had a sister ship. Amazing how many survived.

  • NS

    I don’t know how far off the ship was from land, but the trip from wherever they were to land was probably pretty stressful. Thank goodness they learned their lesson from the Titanic and added lifeboats because as stressful as the journey probably was, all of those people survived!

  • Anthony Jasany

    I didn’t know the Titanic had a sister ship as well. Interesting article.

  • JB

    Amazing that only 30 people died compared to the 1066 on board at the time of the explosion. Really learned their lesson from the Titanic.

  • w.y.

    I had no idea that the Titanic had a sister ship!

  • Louis Lipoff

    2 ships , 7 voyages great profit margin

  • Ben Nevers

    At least the sister ship had a few voyages. Although I do not think I personally would have been comfortable being on that ship after what happened with the Titanic.

  • Allison Pugliese

    Unlike the Titanic, the sinking if the Britannic is not shocking to me because it was a hospital ship in time of war, so clearly their is a possibility that it could be hit; therefore, the relationship to the Titanic is just coincidental. However, because of this relationship the improvements to the Britannic helped save many lives on that fateful day.

    • Stephen Ciocca

      I agree, I think that the fact that the ship sank is much less surprising then the Titanic sinking. Especially when considering it was a war time ship and it was sunk by a mine or torpedo. If the Britannic had sunk by hitting an iceberg like the Titanic did then I would have no problem believing that there was a curse around those ships. But due to the fact that it was sunk in war time is just a cost of war. Not necessarily a curse.

  • Emily Danzig

    I had no idea the Titanic had a sister ship! Like Allison, I am not as surprised that the Britannic sunk since it was wartime ship meaning it had high exposure to explosions. However, the sinking of the two ships is just ironic. It is incredible how many people survived!!

    • Kathryn Meyer

      I find it crazy, the Titanic had a sister ship also! In agreement, I am not surprised whatsoever by the sinking of the Britannic, as war ships are generally more exposed to the enemy and potential of being attacked. It is bizarre that both ships sunk, but a great thing that the sinking of the Titanic helped create better safety features on the Britannic!

  • Kevin

    Its very interesting to me that there were three sister ships! I did not know they made any other ships than the titanic. I also agree with Allison in that I am not surprised it sank because it was in the line of duty. It was probably targeted at a war strategy. Its also interesting to see the development of these ships because they are what turned into our cruise ships of today. If it were not for these ships we would not have the type of cruise ships we have today.

  • DM

    I had no idea either that the Titanic had sister ships. It is amazing that only 30 people perished on the Britannic even though it only took one hour to sink. It does seem that many lessons were learned form the horrible events that took place on the Titanic, especially the proper use of the life boats.

  • Ann

    i think the key here is it to not compare a ship to the titanic! however maybe its true that the 3rd time is a charm saying that the last ship lasted for 24 years!

  • ryan C

    It was bound to happen to the Britannic ship, it’s a hospital ship. The titanic a different story. even know it took an hour to sank is pretty crazy. It was the biggest ship ever built.

  • SW

    My question is was the Brittanic built to be a war hospital ship or was it actual built as a cruise liner that they just happened to use for the war. If the later situation is true then the company obviously did not make as much money as expected since it could not charge the expensive fares it originally planned.

  • kk

    That’s one massive ship. I think it would have to be hard to sink that massive ship. With being that big of a ship then that mean you are a easier target.

  • BV

    That’s a giant ships. I think the titanic itself was huge and then have to remember that there are hundreds of larger ships.

  • Isaac Talley

    It is a Curse!!! No it is just when you have a object especially ship it is easy to get into trouble. That is why we learn from our mistake and move on. Now a days Titanic would be a dwarf to most huge ships out here. Britannic had a big target on its back because of War not a curse.

  • Kamarin R

    I never knew that the Titanic had sister ships. Even though the Britannic ended up sinking as well it was interesting that increasing the lifeboat capacity decreased the amount of casualties compared to the Titanic.

  • Andy frick

    Good to see that the improvements implemented after the Titanic sunk resulted in only 30 deaths of 1066 passengers.

  • Dakota A rinier

    This just shows how things can go wrong

  • DW

    30 deaths is still 30 too many, but it showed that the life boat changes were a step in the right direction.

  • Alex Hewitt

    The upgrades of ships like the Titanic is impressive but still, 30 lives lost is huge deal

  • Matt Smail

    amazing how big life boats are today. and how much we have changed since the tragic events before our time.

  • ac

    I never knew the titanic had sister ships.

  • Loren deck

    At least people learned from the titanic