On April 14, 1912, the "unsinkable" RMS Titanic hit an iceberg, split in two and plunged to the bottom of the Atlantic. While this may be the most famous and deadliest shipwreck in history, an estimated 3 million more lie in ruins on the ocean floor. Some of these vessels met tragic endings. Others were retired from service and sunk with good intentions or abandoned on beaches and left to rot. Though it's been long since they've traveled the seas, these 20 shipwrecks are among the most haunting in the world.
The Corpach Wreck was originally known as the MV Dayspring. The fishing boat was built in 1775 and decommissioned circa 2000, when it was anchored near Fort William, Scotland. Eleven years later, a violent storm ripped it from its mooring. The vessel drifted 4 miles up the Caledonian Canal to the village of Corpach, where it rests on Loch Linnhe beach today.
As the story goes, the Dimitrios (built in Denmark in 1950) was once used to smuggle cigarettes between Turkey and Italy. In 1980, the cargo ship made an emergency docking in Gythio, Greece, because the captain was seriously ill. Due to issues with the crew's finances and the boat's engine, Dimitrios was seized by port authorities and eventually set free. The sea carried the now-famous freighter to its permanent home ashore on picturesque Valtaki Beach.
The Eduard Bohlen was a German-built cargo ship. In 1909, after 18 years of service, it sailed into a thick fog and wrecked at Conception Bay on the coast of Namibia. It currently exists among the sands of the hellish Skeleton Coast with more than a thousand other ill-fated vessels.
Garðar BA 64
This large ship was built in Norway in 1912 (the same year the Titanic sank) and used for whaling in Icelandic waters. In 1981, Garðar BA 64 was deemed unsafe for service and left to rust on a beach in Skápadalur Valley.
The Shoyo Maru was built in 1969 in Imabari, Japan. It was later renamed Markus, and then Giannis D. The ship's final excursion began in Rijiek, Yugoslavia, in 1983. Giannis D was transporting lumber via the Suez Canal to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and Hodeidah, Yemen. The crew abandoned ship early morning on April 19 after the vessel veered off course and struck the northwest edge of the Abu Nuhas. It remained above the reef for several weeks before a storm broke it in two and sank it to the bottom of the Red Sea.
In the summer of 1984, the Hilma Hooker was docked in Kralendijk, Bonaire, in the Caribbean due to engine problems. Local authorities found 25,000 pounds of marijuana smuggled on board, so they detained the entire crew and boat for evidence. Hilma Hooker remained tied to the pier for months before it was anchored out at sea. Due to neglect, it took on tons of water and inevitably capsized.
The Mediterranean Sky (previously City of York) was built in England in 1952. It maintained service as a cruise liner for 44 years until its last voyage from Brindisi, Italy, to Patras, Greece. A deserted Mediterranean Sky took on water in Eleusis Bay for three years before it was towed to a shallow area. In 2003, it fell on its side and sank. Only half of the wreck is submerged.
The MV Panagiotis is one of the world's most famous shipwrecks. Rumor has it that in 1980, the freighter was carrying contraband cigarettes from Turkey when a storm forced it aground white sands off the coast of Zakynthos, Greece. The crew was being pursued by the navy for smuggling, so they abandoned ship. The cove, called Navagio (Greek for "shipwreck") is now a popular tourist attraction and one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world.
MV Salem Express
The MV Salem Express was a roll-on, roll-off passenger ferry that operated between Safaga, Egypt, and Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, until 1991 when it collided with the Hyndman Reefs, right off the coast of Egypt. Water rushed onboard through the damaged bow and the boat sank in minutes. It's estimated that 470 people died and 180 survived.
In the Pesuta's early years, it operated as a steam ship. In the early 1900s, it was converted to a log barge and in 1928 it sailed into a winter storm in the Hecate Strait, where it consequently ran aground the shores of British Columbia, Canada. Most of the vessel has eroded over time, but the bow remains intact.
Peter Iredale (named after its owner) was transporting ballast from Salina Cruz, Mexico, to Portland, Oregon, in the fall of 1906 when high seas and strong winds dragged the ship ashore on Clatsop Beach in Oregon. There were plans to rescue the ship, but after waiting out unfavorable weather for weeks on end, the Peter Iredale got stuck in the sand. The bow and some framework are all that exist today.
The sinking of the RMS Titanic is one of the most famous and deadliest of all time. The British passenger liner met its fate in 1912 after hitting an iceberg on its maiden voyage from Southampton to New York City. More than 1,500 people died and an estimated 705 were rescued. The deteriorating wreckage lies 12,000 feet beneath the Atlantic Ocean, about 370 miles off the southeast coast of Newfoundland, Canada. You've likely seen James Cameron's 1997 blockbuster "Titanic," but what you may not know is that there are 20 differences between the movie and the real story.
Wikimedia Commons/Courtesy of NOAA/Institute forExploration/University of Rhode Island
In 1969, the Israeli navy paid France for 13 missile ships that were never delivered due to an embargo spurred by severed diplomatic relations. So, Israeli secret service disguised themselves as dock workers and sneakily infiltrated the Cherbourg shipyard. They were able to secure six vessels (one being Satil) and successfully sail them across the Mediterranean. In 1994, Satil was retired, deliberately sunk and repurposed as a training ground for divers in the Red Sea.
SS Francisco Morazan
The SS Francisco Morazan was built in 1922 and served as a cargo ship until 1960 when it sailed through a snowstorm and ran aground in Lake Michigan about 300 yards from the shore. Although the ship was in no immediate danger of sinking, it wasn't salvageable. The captain and crew were rescued in the coming days, while the elements weathered the SS Francisco Morazan and began to break it apart. What's left of the boat remains in the same space today.
The SS Maheno was an ocean liner that crossed the Tasman Sea between Australia and New Zealand; it also sometimes sailed to Vancouver and during World War I, it was converted to a hospital ship used in Europe by the New Zealand Naval Forces. When the war was over, it was returned to its owner to resume commercial service. In 1935, a cyclone dragged the vessel ashore Fraser Island. Attempts were made to refloat the boat - all of which failed - so its parts were stripped and sold for scrap. The leftovers have been rusting on the beach ever since.
SS Point Reyes
The SS Point Reyes is an old fishing boat that was marooned on a sand bar in Inverness, California. It never suffered an actual wreck; the owner took it to dry land with plans to make repairs, but he never got around to the project. Sooner than later, the land was obtained by a wetlands restoration firm that wanted to remove the SS Point Reyes, but local photographers fought to keep the wreck where it is.
The SS Thistlegorm was a British Merchant Navy ship that made just three successful trips before its demise. In 1941, the ship set sail from Glasgow, Scotland, to Alexandria, Egypt. After detouring around South Africa in a convoy, Thistlegorm and other nearby ships anchored at Sha'ab Ali to await clearance of the Suez Canal, where a tanker had struck a mine. German intelligence looking for troop carriers stumbled upon the moored vessels and bombed them, sinking Thistlegorm to the bottom of the Red Sea.
Sweepstakes was a schooner built in Burlington, Ontario, in 1867. It suffered damage after hitting a rock off Cove Island in 1885 and was towed to Tub Harbor in Lake Huron. Because it was unable to undergo repairs, it sank that year. Today, the boat is very much intact and is only submersed in 20 feet of water, making it highly visible to passersby above.
USS Kittiwake (ASR-13)
The USS Kittiwake (ASR-13) was a submarine rescue ship employed by the U.S. Navy. After nearly five decades of service, it was retired and docked in Virginia until 2009 when it was donated to the Cayman Islands and sunk as an artificial reef.
USS Spiegel Grove
The USS Spiegel Grove was a dock landing ship used by the U.S. Navy. It was named after former president Rutherford B. Hayes' home and estate, Spiegel Grove, in Fremont, Ohio. The wartime vessel was decommissioned in 1989, and in 2002 it was intentionally sunk on Dixie Shoal in the Florida Keys to create an artificial reef and recreational space for divers. If these haunting ships haven't deterred you from taking to the ocean blue, set sail for the any of the 19 best cruise destinations around the world.
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