LONDON -- The British hospital ship Britannic (probably the White Star liner of the name) and the biggest ship afloat, was sunk in the Kea channel of the Aegean sea yesterday. The admiralty announced today that of those aboard about 50 were lost, 280 more injured and 1,100 saved.
The admiralty announcement declared the vessel had been sunk by a mine or torpedo.
The Britannic was a steel triple screw steamship of 48,158 tons -- the biggest steamship now in service. She was built for the White Star liner's passenger service. She was built for the White Star liner's passenger service, being finished only last year, but was immediately requisitioned by the British government for use as a British hospital ship.
The Kea channel where the admiralty states the great ship was lost, is a bit of water between mainland of Greece and the Island of Kea. From this it is safe to assume that the Britannic was bringing back wounded from Saloniki, the channel being one of the direct routes to the allies' depot in this section.
NEW YORK -- Lacking any advices, officials of the White Star line here today were practically certain that the hospital ship Britannic, sunk by torpedo or mine in the Aegean sea, was the Britannic of their line -- the biggest British passenger ship afloat. They based their beliefs on two points:
First, that the liner Britannic, completed only last year, had immediately been requisitioned by the admiralty for hospital service, and
Second, that the only other Britannic of British registry listed in Lloyds was a vessel of a mere 428 tons -- too small to accommodate the 1,178 persons accounted for in the admiralty's list of dead, wounded and rescued.
There are four Britannic listed in Lloyds. First is the White Star liner of 48,158 tons. The second is a vessel of 2,289 tons, owned by Brummenacs & Torgerson, and registered from a Norwegian port. The third is one owned by Montreal and Corwall Navigation company, registered at Montreal, whose burden is only 428 tons. The fourth Britannic, of 3.487 tons, was sunk several months ago.
At the offices of the Ocean Steamship company, the White Star line, it was said that the Britannic never has been armed. The first news the steamship company had of the loss of the ship was through the United Press dispatches from London.
The Britannic never has engaged in trans-Atlantic service, not having been completed at the outbreak of the war. She was turned over to the government and fitted as a hospital ship with cots for 2,500 men. She carried usually, in addition to patients, 200 nurses and orderlies and 100 surgeons, besides her crew of about 800 men, the line officers said.
The Britannic, as a hospital ship, was operated solely by officers of the White Star line. At the local offices it was said the ship was strictly non-belligerent.
The ship was withdrawn from government service, according to reports to the New York office, and taken to a ship building yard about a month ago to have her passenger accommodations rebuilt. They expected her to be placed in trans-Atlantic service within a short time. Nothing has been heard from the ship sine word was received that she was to be re-built.
It was stated here that the Britannic was commanded by Capt. C.D. Bartlett.
The Britannic was the largest ship afloat and was second only to the Vaterland, the huge German passenger vessel, in tonnage. She displaced 48,158 tons. She was propelled by three screws.