Top 10 Famous Shipwrecks

For thousands of years ships have been destroyed by war, natural disasters and in some occurrences even human error. Here is a Top 10 list of what I feel are the greatest and the most famous shipwrecks/disasters that have ever happened.


1. Titanic


The most famous ship in the world. Possibly the most remembered maritime disaster of the 20th century.  The British cruise liner was the biggest passenger ship ever built in that period. It sank on April 15h 1912 carrying 2,224 passengers, 1,502 people died.  Many people don’t know that the ship had 2 sister ships, the Olympic and Britannic, the Britannic also sunk due to hitting a mine. The ship was sailing from Southampton to New York where it hit an iceberg and sunk in 2 hours and 40 minutes. The remains lie on the seabed, split into two pieces, 12,415 feet below the surface.


2. Sultana


The least remembered disaster, but one of the deadliest, killing over 1800 people.  It was the greatest maritime disaster in the whole of American history. Four of the boilers exploded making a huge fireball engulf the whole ship killing 80% of all the people on board. The disaster was overshadowed in the press due to president Lincolns assassination was the day before.  The ship was only intended for 85 people, but was carrying an estimated 2,400 people. The wreckage lies near Memphis, Tennessee.


3. Uss Oriskany

Uss Oriskany

This ship, nicknamed the mighty o, was one of the 24 huge Essex class ships that was commissioned for the us navy. The ship has seen many battles in many locations from its first commission to Guantanamo bay, Cuba to the Vietnamese war. In 2004 the ship was transferred into an artificial reef and has been hugely successful at becoming a home for millions of fish.  It is widely considered one of the best diving sites of the world.


4. L.R. Doty

L.R. Doty

This ship was launched in 1894 in Michigan, west Bay City, U.S. it went through a terrible storm which caused it to sink, killing all 17 crew members on-board.  The wreck was found 111 years after the sinking, it is 300ft below the surface of Lake Michigan; the cargo of corn is still intact, it is considered one of the eeriest dive sites due to its murky waters.


5. Whydah Galley

Whydah Galley

This is one of my favourite ships, due to the history behind it. It served firstly as a slave trade ship, but then in late February 1717, a pirate named “black sam” bellamy captured the vessel and claimed it his own.  For a year of owning the ship, he used the Whydah galley to take control of over 50 ships stealing the loot. The ship came under huge gale force winds causing the main mast to fall and caused the ship to capsize claiming all pirates on board. The ship was discovered over 250 years after its disappearance along with the loot in just 14 feet of water, this was the first authenticated pirate ship to ever be discovered.


6. Mv Joola

Mv Joola

This is thought to be the second worst maritime disaster that is not related to war. The disaster claimed at least 1,863 lives.  The ship was designed to only carry 500 passengers, but at the time of the accident it was carrying well over 2,000 passengers.  The ship capsized after entering a storm in as quickly as five minutes.  Rescue crews did not arrive until the morning following the incident, a huge majority dies in the water awaiting rescue.  The wreck is still missing.


7. Costa Concordia

Costa Concordia


The most recent cruise ship wreck of this nature. Although it is only a partial sinking, it did claim the lives of 34 passengers. The disaster has received a huge amount of press due to the reason why it has sunk. The captain, captain schettino, tried to do a really good looking drift into port. To do this he turned off the ships navigation system which stated how close the ship is too the rocks beneath. It hit a large rock and water started to fill the ship, therefore making it capsize. Costa Concordia  cruise ship  is still situated in Isola Del Giglia, Tuscany and has become a huge tourist attraction; plans for tis removal are underway.


8. Rms Rhone

Rms Rhone

Quite possibly the most beautiful shipwrecks in the world. The British packet ship was wrecked off the coast of salt island, British Virgin Islands on the 26th October 1867. The ship went straight into a hurricane that decimated the ship and caused the lives of 123 people. It is now a Caribbean wreck diving site and is absolutely stunning. The wildlife have took to the ship like a duck to water, the whole ship is covered in coral, eels, fish and even sharks have claimed this ship their home.


9. Mont-Blanc

Mont Blanc

Mont Blanc was made famous as being the ship to cause the Halifax explosion. The ship was en route to France from New York carrying a vast amount of ammunition and explosives. The ship was not too old for the year, but was extremely slow, due to the weight of it. It stopped off at Halifax, Nova Scotia to meet up with a convoy heading to France. Whilst heading into the port the ship was struck by another ship, the SS Imo. The collision caused a fire and ignited the explosives on board. The force was 2.9 kilotons which was the largest recorded non-nuclear explosion ever. Over 2,000 people were killed and 9,000 others were injured.


10. The sweepstakes

The Sweepstakes

The Sweepstakes are extremely popular with divers due to the wildlife and scenery that this shipwreck has caused.  Laying in big tub harbor the schooner ship can be seen at water level. The ship was damaged off Cove Island in august 1885; the boat was luckily toed back to port by a little tugboat named Jessie. The schooner had suffered extreme damage and was not repairable therefore sunk in the port itself. The huge cargo of coal was luckily retrieved after the boat sank.

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