A mystery that has surrounded the loss of the Cunard liner Lusitania for the past 92 years may be about to be solved.

A mystery that has surrounded the loss of the Cunard liner Lusitania for the past 92 years may be about to be solved. American millionaire Greg Bemis has been given a five-year licence to dive on the wreck by the Irish Arts Ministry.

Lusitania was torpedoed by a German U-boat in May 1915 off Old Kinsale Head, and sank in just eight minutes with the loss of 1,198 lives. 78-year-old Mr Bemis hopes to find out what caused the 31,550-ton liner to sink so quickly.

“It’s almost impossible to sink a vessel of that size so fast,” says Mr Bemis, “to prove what really caused it would help bring real closure for the relatives of those that perished.” Survivors reported hearing a second explosion shortly before the ship sank, and rumours persist that this was caused by the detonation of a secret cargo of munitions.

Although the wreck has been owned outright by Mr Bemis since 1982, the Ministry had placed a Protection Order on it to prevent anyone looting paintings and artworks which were reported to have gone down with the ship. Although an exploratory dive may be made this summer, saturation dives will not take place until next year.