Sunday, May 27, 2007

 

Tourist attraction will be a real drive

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Belfast Telegraph
By John McGurk
May 27, 2007


The hidden world of the Titanic's tragic sister ship Britannic is set to be uncovered.

A joint team of UK and Greek divers will explore the wreck of the historic Belfast-built ship in the Aegean Sea later this year.

And that expedition will open the floodgates to a super-ambitious plan designed to make the Harland & Wolff liner the central focus of a multi-million pound tourist attraction.

A key part of the Britannic Foundation charity project is to make the ship - submerged 400ft beneath the waves - available to select teams of divers.

Plans are in hand to develop a diving school alongside a Britannic museum and hotel 40 miles outside Greek capital Athens.

Britannic was the third largest Olympic-class liner of the legendary White Star line and sister ship of the Titanic and Olympic.

At more than 882ft, the Britannic - by then a wartime hospital ship - sank after hitting a German mine in November 1916 with the loss of 30 lives.

It lay on the Aegean Sea bed, until legendary French marine explorer Jacques Cousteau discovered its resting place in 1975.

It was relocated in 1996 and then bought by maritime historian and author Simon Mills.

He said: "Britannic may be out of sight, but she's not out of mind.

"Everyone is fascinated by the Titanic and that explains some of the interest in Britannic.

"However, she has her own story to tell. While the Titanic is known for its glamour, Britannic was a serving hospital ship.

"When we go down there we are going to find hospital beds as well as personal artefacts."

Just days ago, the Britannic Foundation revealed details of its first dive, due to start on September 10 which will last three days.


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