When it comes to the history of maritime disasters and the man or woman on the street, you might hope that they will at least be able to name the Titanic, relieved they know it’s a true story, delighted they know about The White Star Lines, and ecstatic if they can tell you that, when it comes to English vessels, if the word white is involved, stay the hell off that ship. For a nation with such a proud history of naval achievements, their sucking at ships is unfathomable, but then again, there is the history of the empire and the national football and cricket teams to consider. While my premise might suggest a curse, it is entirely coincidental, except for perhaps the quality of certain company management.
Most maritime disasters are measured by the number of people who die, but often fail to take into account the geopolitical ramifications of the sinking. In 1120 The White Ship sank off the coast of Barfleur killing only a measly three hundred—luxury liners weren’t exactly a commonality yet. Among its passengers was William Adelin, the heir of King Henry I of England. And while hubris certainly accounted for the ships demise, the real disaster came later. The death of the only heir is not exactly known to have positive outcomes for the coming succession. Cue the international incestual intrigue that is European royalty. A civil war, known as The Anarchy, erupted between 1135 to 1153; ending with a treaty whereby both the main dudes, Stephen of Blois and Henry Plantagenet becoming kings in succession. It would be centuries before England would shake off the French curse of losing to even themselves in war.
The White Star Line is famous for the sinking of their Olympic class ships, most notably the Titanic. Of the Titanic, Britannic, and Olympic, only the Olympic managed to not find its way to the ocean floor. The history of the Titanic’s ill-fated maiden voyage is well known, less known is the tragic maiden voyage of, the largest ship of its day (notice a pattern), the RMS Tayleur, which sank off the coast of Ireland. Then down went the Atlantic, which was the greatest disaster of its day, 535 lost souls. And then, through some trick of fate, The White Star Line managed to stay afloat into the twentieth century, losing the Titanic, and then the Britannic. To be fair, the British navy was in charge of the Britannic when it hit a mine. They also lost the Naronic, Republic, Arabic, Armenian, Cymric, Laurentic, Afric, Delphic, Justicia, and Laurentic. Though, most of those were sunk by German u-boats in the war. They also lost the Suevic after it ran aground, but thanks to a badass rescue attempt everybody was rescued.
Of these loses, the Justicia deserves the record for, perhaps, the most badass ship. First she took two torpedoes, then she took another two, then the next day it took another two torpedoes to finally take her down.