What Is The World’s 30 Most Famous Shipwreck?

What Is The World's 30 Most Famous Shipwreck - Merchant Navy Info - blog

Shipwrecks are often full of mystery and tell stories of adventure, courage, and sometimes tragedy. Over the years, many famous ships have met an untimely end. They went to the bottom of the sea. Leaving behind the story of their journey and also the events that led to its end.

In this article, we explore how many ships have sunk. And also introduce you to some of the most famous ship wreck that have been discovered. From the Endurance lost under the ice floes of the Weddell Sea to a RMS Titanic. These shipwrecks have captured the imagination of people around the world. The United Nations (U.N.) estimates that approximately 3 million shipwrecks are lost underwater. 

As a result,  several expeditions are underway, both publicly sanctioned by governments and privately funded by organisations and foundations. The objective is to search the open sea for sunken ship and also lost historical underwater treasures. Gold, silver, and other valuable artifacts worth $4.444 trillion have been discovered and are still being discovered.

For many historians, searching for shipwrecks has even become a hobby. Some notable shipwrecks can be found stranded on the shore, deep on the ocean floor, or also lying on solid ground. Get ready for an underwater journey exploring the most tragic and famous shipwrecks and their historic treasures. Learn about how many ships have sunk.

How Many Cruise Ships Have Sunk?

RMS Titanic

RMS Titanic was a luxury steamship of the White Star Line. On April 15, 1912, a British luxury liner sank on her maiden voyage from Southampton, England, to New York. The famous ship hit an iceberg and also sank, killing about 1,500 of her passengers and crew, with 700 surviving. The Titanic was the world’s largest ship at the time, but its captain ignored warnings about ice on the way.


Battleship Bismarck was one of the largest battleships built for the German Navy. She was launched on February 14, 1939. Was attacked by the Royal Navy and sunk in the North Atlantic near France on May 27, 1941. She was the most impressive battleship of her time. With a displacement of 52,600 tons, 8 15-inch guns, and a speed of 30 knots. While on her maiden voyage under the command of Admiral Günther Lütjens. Bismarck was spotted by a British reconnaissance plane off the coast of Bergen, Norway. His death toll in Germany is over 2,000.

SS Rio Grande  

SS Rio Grande was a  German blockade runner during World War II and was sunk by two U.S. Destroyers in the Atlantic Ocean in January 1944, when she was 85 miles from the coast of Brazil. In, the crew of the Rio Grande abandoned their ship and also her cargo and deliberately attempted to sink her. The wreck of  SS Rio Grande was the deepest shipwreck. At a depth of 18,904 feet (5,762 meters) until the discovery of a USS Johnson in 2019.

RMS Lusitania

RMS Lusitania is a British ocean liner launched by Cunard Line in 1906. At one time, she was the largest passenger ship in the world, making her famous for winning the Blue Ribbon Award in 1908 as her fastest transatlantic crossing. She was torpedoed and sunk by a German submarine on May 7, 1915, en route from New York to Liverpool. This event indirectly contributed to the United States’ entry into World War I.  Sinking resulted in  1,198 people drowning, including 128 Americans.

SS Baron Gauçu  

SS Baron Gauçu was a luxury Austro-Hungarian steam yacht that hit a mine and sank off the coast of Croatia on August 13, 1914. This sinking occurred early in World War I and killed all passengers and crew.

USS Arizona  

USS Arizona was a battleship built for the United States Navy in the mid-1910s. She sank during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. Four thousand four hundred forty-four people and more than 1,170 crew members lost their lives. The USS Arizona now has a concrete monument erected over her wreck.

MV Doña Paz 

MV Doña Paz was an passenger ferry that sank on December 20, 1987, after colliding with an oil tanker named Vector.  This ship was built in Japan and registered in the Philippines, and her passenger capacity was 608 people. This disaster is considered the deadliest maritime disaster in peacetime.

MV Wilhelm Gustloff 

MV Wilhelm Gustloff was sunk by Soviet submarine S-13 in the Baltic Sea while the Red Army was evacuating civilians and military personnel from East Prussia, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, and Estonia in 1945. It was a German military transport ship. She was part of Operation Hannibal and was the first ship built for the German Labor Front’s “Strength Through Joy” program, which was subsidized leisure activities of a German workers. It was 684 feet long and weighed over 25,000 tons.

MV Salem Express 

MV Salem Express is a roll-on/roll-off passenger ferry that has been in service for 25 years, connecting Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and Safaga, Egypt. She sank after colliding with her one at Hindman Reef on December 11, 1991. The shipwreck is located off the coast of Safaga and she is one of the most controversial shipwrecks in the Red Sea.

RMS Empress of Ireland 

RMS Empress of Ireland is a British-built ocean liner and transatlantic passenger ship.  Sank in the St. Lawrence River near Rimouski, Quebec, on May 29, 1914, after crashing into the  Storstad mine in Norway in heavy fog, killing more than 1,000 of the 1,477 people on board. She is considered one of the worst maritime disasters in history.


Endurance is her three-masted Birkentine used by Sir Ernest Shackleton and his 27-man crew on the  Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition of 1914-1917. Originally called Polaris, she was built in Norway in 1912, and she was eventually crushed by sea ice and sank to the bottom of the Weddell Sea in 1915.

Mary Rose  

Mary Rose is an English warship commissioned during the reign of  Henry VIII, from 1509 to 1511, and built-in Portsmouth, England. As flagship of the fleet, she fought in the wars with France and Scotland and served in the Royal Navy for 34 years before being sunk in 1545. She was discovered in 1971, and she recovered in 1982 as part of the complex and expensive  Mary Rose Her Trust Maritime Salvage Project. The remaining parts of the ship and the artifacts recovered are a valuable Tudor time capsule. Currently on display at Portsmouth Historic Shipyard.


The wreck of  Vasa is a Swedish warship that sank during her maiden voyage in 1628 and lay in Stockholm harbor in the late 1950s. The ship was salvaged in 1961 with an almost intact hull but was found to be top-heavy and unstable due to a weight of the second gun deck and the huge sculpture on the bow. Over 40,000 of her items were recovered from her hull.

 RMS Rhone  

RMS Rhone was a British Royal Mail Steam Packet Company passenger and cargo ship that was sank in a hurricane off the British Virgin Islands on October 29, 1867. Despite her attempts to ride out the storm, her ship was engulfed by strong winds and waves and eventually sank. Although many passengers and crew survived, more than 130 people lost their lives. She is one of the most famous shipwrecks in the Caribbean and is now a popular diving spot.

Flor Do Mar  

Flor do Mar was a Portuguese carrack built in Lisbon in 1502, primarily used to transport troops, officials, missionaries, and settlers between Europe and Asia. It was used by the Portuguese on their voyages to India. She weighed 400 tons and was considered one of the most beautiful ships of her time. Ship sank somewhere off the coast of Sumatra, possibly in the Strait of Malacca, while carrying a large amount of treasure on her voyage back to Portugal.

M.S. Estonia  

MS Estonia is a cruise ferry built in 1980 and used on the ferry route between Finland and Sweden. This ship sank in the Baltic Sea on September 28, 1994, while sailing from Tallinn to Stockholm, killing 852 people.

M.S. World Discoverer  

MS World Discoverer is a German-built luxury expedition cruise ship launched in 1984. This ship was operated by several companies, and she sailed to remote and exotic destinations, including the Antarctic and  Arctic. This ship ran aground on a reef in the Solomon Islands in 2000, sustained severe damage, and was later dismantled.

SS Andrea Doria  

SS Andrea Doria was an Italian passenger ship that sank in the Atlantic Ocean after colliding with Stockholm in 1956. She was the flagship of the Italian route. Her gross tonnage was 29,100 and she could accommodate approximately 1,200 passengers and 500 crew, making her the largest, fastest, and probably the safest ship in Italy at the time.

SS Maheno  

SS Maheno is a luxury liner that was built in 1905 by the Union Steamship Company of New Zealand. This ship was used as a hospital ship during World War I, after which she was decommissioned, and she ran aground on Fraser Island, Queensland, Australia, in 1935. Her 4,444 attempts to refloat the ship failed, and she has been abandoned on the shore ever since, becoming a popular tourist destination, and a landmark on the island.


Sultana was a 260-foot-long wooden steamboat built in Cincinnati in 1863. She transported passengers and also cargo between St. Louis and New Orleans on the Mississippi River. On April 27, 1865, the ship experienced the worst maritime disaster in U.S. History when three of her four boilers exploded and caught fire.

USS Maine  

USS Maine was an American battleship that sank in Havana Harbor, Cuba, in 1898. She sank in due to an explosion, but the cause is unknown. Some believe it was an external attack, such as a landmine, while others believe it was an internal failure, such as a fire in a coal bunker. The exact cause of the explosion is unknown. The ship’s sinking contributed to the outbreak of the Spanish-American War.

The White Ship 

The White Ship was a large ship that sank in a Channel while transporting nobles and their to the English throne from France to England in 1120. It was built of clinker brick, resembled a Viking longship, and was powered by 50 oarsmen.

SS Thistlegorm  

SS Thistlegorm was sunk by a German bomber in the Red Sea on October 6, 1941.  The ship was transporting war supplies such as vehicles, ammunition, and motorcycles and was a target for the Luftwaffe during World War II, but within a few minutes, a bomb hit the ship’s hold and caused a huge explosion. The ship sank within a short time. Shipwreck is now a popular diving spot.

SS Eastland 

The SS Eastland, a passenger ship used for tours based in Chicago, capsized on July 24, 1915, killing 844 passengers and also crew. This was the largest loss of life from a single shipwreck in the Great Lakes.

USS Spiegel Globe Shipwrecks

USS Spiegel Globe (LSD-32) was a U.S. Navy amphibious landing ship docking station from 1955 until 1989. After she was decommissioned and moored in the James River Reserve Fleet, she was sunk as an artificial reef off the coast of Key Largo, Florida, in 2002. Although the sinking was initially unsuccessful, she eventually sank upright on the ocean floor. Eventually, this is the largest ship ever intentionally sunk to create an artificial reef.

Santa Maria Shipwrecks

The  Santa Maria is one of the ships Christopher Columbus used on his first voyage to America in 1492. She was the largest of her three ships in the expedition, along with the Pinta and also Niña.  Santa Maria ran aground on December 25, 1492, near present-day Cap-Haitien, Haiti, due to a navigational error when Columbus and also his crew attempted to anchor offshore.

The ship was unable to refloat and also was eventually abandoned by Columbus and his crew, who used its wood to build a fort on the island. The exact reason for the navigational error is unknown, but it may have been caused by a combination of factors, including strong currents, wind, and Columbus’s unfamiliarity with the sea.

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