List of Famous Shipwrecks: With 3/4th of the world being covered with water, the high seas and oceans hold many mysteries and hidden treasures in their dark depths. One prominent example is the multitude of shipwrecks all over the world. As per the United Nations, there could be anything like 3 million shipwrecks that are scattered across the ocean floors all over the globe.
What Caused These Shipwrecks?
Well, there have been so many reasons for these unfortunate incidents. Storms, hidden rocks, icebergs, wars, accidents with other ships, sabotage – the reasons are endless. But whatever might be the reasons – all these shipwrecks caused the loss of countless lives. These unfortunate souls had a most agonizing death in the dark endless depths of the oceans.
And many of these ships sank with lots of treasures aboard. Many treasure hunters searched for them for decades and centuries – but not with much success. And such incidents gave rise to many stories and myths. Myths abound about spooky and possessed ships at sea as well!
We have listed the 10 famous Shipwrecks of the world in below infographic:
List of Top Ten Famous Shipwrecks
It’s difficult to make a choice about the most famous shipwrecks in maritime history. Each wreck comes with its own history, its own tragedy, and its own fallouts. However, below we have tried to compile a list of the ten most famous shipwrecks in recorded history. Read on to know more about them.
Among the most well-known – and most tragic – of all maritime disasters that have occurred till now, the “unsinkable” Titanic’s sinking in 1912 has caught the fancy of millions around the world and found its way to numerous anecdotes and blockbuster movies. On its maiden voyage from Southampton to New York City, the ill-fated luxury liner Titanic struck an iceberg and sank to the depths of the ocean within a few hours. The ship was woefully short of lifeboats, lifejackets, and other safety equipment. Resulting in the deaths of more than 1,500 passengers, the Titanic’s sinking remains one of the worst disasters in human history.
Kublai Khan’s Fleet
Almost 750 years ago (in 1274 & 1281), two maritime disasters occurred that were among the earliest in recorded maritime history. The legendary Mongol king Kublai Khan’s fleet attempted to attack Japan. But storms at sea ravaged the entire fleet, killing tens of thousands of Mongol soldiers. After several centuries, marine archaeologists discovered many artifacts and remains of the ships from the seabed of the seas close to Japan.
RMS Empress of Ireland
This Canadian liner collided with the Norwegian coal carrier SS Storstad on its way from Quebec to Liverpool. The collision happened in Saint Lawrence River on May 29, 1914, amidst the dense fog. This mishap killed more than a thousand people and is one of the worst disasters in Canadian maritime history. Many remains have been recovered from the depths of the river, and they serve as sad reminders of the accident.
Just about four years had passed after the Titanic disaster, when another mishap occurred, almost on a similar scale. The super-luxury liner RMS Lusitania had set sail from Liverpool and was headed for New York. It was May 1915 and the World War I was in full swing. A few miles off the coast of Ireland, a German U-boat torpedoed the Lusitania and sent it to a watery grave in the depths of the Irish Sea. With the ship, almost 1,200 passengers also went down. This event remains etched in history as one of the most shameful fallouts of a war where innocent civilians were targeted by an army.
The iconic German battleship Bismarck used to strike terror in the hearts of the naval units of the allied forces. It was a highly accomplished and well-equipped vessel. However, on May 27, 1941, in the North Atlantic, it met its final fate as it engaged in a prolonged battle with several battleships of the British Royal Navy. In the face of constant firing from the Royal Navy, the Bismarck went down after putting up a brave fight. And with the battleship, more than 2,000 German soldiers also perished. The remains of the Bismarck were recovered by deep-sea divers from more than 15,000 feet in the ocean.
MV Dona Paz
Among the worst maritime disasters in the history of mankind, the Philippines-registered MV Dona Paz collided with MT Vector, an oil tanker, on December 20, 1987. A huge explosion and fire ensued. Almost 4,400 passengers were charred to death. This harrowing incident has been dubbed as “Asia’s Titanic” and also was a pointer to the lack of safety arrangements on board certain ocean liners. Only 24 people survived this disaster.
This was another massive disaster at sea. In December 1948, in the days of the Chinese Civil War, several thousand boarded the SS Kiangya to escape Shanghai as the People’s Liberation Army was about to capture the city. The ill-fated ship struck a mine from the days of World War II near the mouth of the Huangpu River. There was a massive explosion and the ship sank within minutes, taking down more than 4,000 passengers with it.
Also, read amazing Facts about the Black Sea.
One of the worst disasters in US maritime history, the SS Sultana was carrying repatriated prisoners of war from the American Civil War. These prisoners were eager to return home, and corrupt steamship operators – after the handsome carriage fees that would be paid to them by the federal government – employed defective vessels to carry these people back home. One such doomed vessel was the SS Sultana. The ship’s boilers were leaking and it was carrying passengers several times its acceptable capacity. The boiler erupted and the ship sank in the Mississippi River. The incident killed more than 1,800 passengers.
The sinking of the USS Arizona is among the landmark events in the history of the 2nd World War. It was the result of the infamous Pearl Harbor bombings by the Japanese air force. These aircraft wreaked havoc on the harbor on December 7, 1941, taking the US Navy there completely by surprise. More than 1,170 soldiers aboard the USS Arizona perished in the attack, apart from almost a thousand more elsewhere in the harbor. This incident prompted the US government to formally enter the war.
The Germany-built MS Estonia was traveling from Tallinn to Stockholm when disaster struck it. It happened on September 28, 1994. The exact cause for the disaster was never really found out, though rough weather conditions were thought to be the most likely reason. More than 800 passengers died in this terrible accident, and the worst part is – most of the bodies were never recovered.