By now you probably know the joke about the Titanic. It goes like this, the captain and crew members talk, and one of them says, “Captain, I have good and bad news. The bad news is we will hit an ice break. The good one is we will win 10 Oscars”. Titanic remains one of the most famous shipwrecks to this date, a huge part because of the iconic movie.
But there are many more shipwrecks you need to know about and visit. Silent and hauntingly beautiful, these wrecks have grown into an integral part of the landscape. Some have turned into beaches, others into a fun place to spend time in the sea. Others remain hidden under the sea.
Marine accidents can result in many lives lost. But for generations to come, shipwrecks present a window to their own long history. And that is a history of conflict, survival, destinies, and much more.
These important shipwrecks tell the story of the past, giving us a way to connect the dots in our own history. Think of them as testimonies to the trade and cultural exchanges that happened before us.
Nowadays, enthusiastic travelers try to visit them. And some people even chose the shipwrecks as their resting place. Let’s check them out.
Black Sea Bulgaria
This is one of the oldest intact shipwrecks ever discovered. Located in the Black Sea, some 50 miles off the coast of Bulgaria, archeologists found the 75-foot ship 1.24 miles below the surface.
According to archeologists, the shipwreck got there 2,400 years ago. The lack of oxygen at the depth kept the ship in such a good condition.
Fleet of Kublai Khan
Speaking of popular shipwrecks of old times, we have to mention the legendary Kublai Khan. Two Mongolian invasion fleets attempting to attack Japan got wrecked by storms in 1274 and 1281. The result? Tens of thousands dead.
Centuries later, archeologists and marine experts found artifacts belonging to these vessels. In October 2001, archeologists discovered an entire shipwreck. They claimed it originates from Fujian in south China.
And then in 2015, they found a Mongolian ship in a bay close to the city of Matsuura.
S.S. Yongala, Queensland, Australia
This ship sank off the coast of Queensland during a cyclone in 1911. As a result of the accident, 122 people lost their lives.
Today, the shipwreck rests some 50 miles southeast of Townsville. Encrusted in coral, the shipwreck provides shelter for manta rays, sea snakes, turtles, bull sharks, tiger sharks, and schools of fish. Divers claim it is one of the most beautiful wrecks in the world.
The Black Swan
Many call the Black Swan the greatest discovery of gold treasure in history. Archeologists found the treasure on the remains of the Spanish warship, Nuestra Senora de las Mercedes. The ship sank off Portugal in 1804.
In 2007, the American company Odyssey Marine Exploration, in collaboration with some archeologists, found an enormous amount of gold. The estimated value? Just $500 million.
But the Spanish government declared they have the right to the gold. The case went up to the US Supreme Court. In the end, Spanish authorities got the gold back in 2012. Now, they display it in various exhibitions across the country.
The Spanish Armada
Here is another popular shipwreck with ties to Spain. The Spanish Armada was a fleet of 130 ships. They set sail to England, planning an invasion in 1588. But storms disrupted the mission, destroying many of the ships of the Armada. They got wrecked on the coasts of Scotland and Ireland, killing more than 5,000 soldiers.
In 1985, local divers discovered the wreckage of three vessels of the fleet, including the 32-gun warship La Juliana.
H.M.S. Vixen, Bermuda
Let’s talk about some of the shipwrecks people have turned into popular beaches. The Vixen served as an armored gunboat, protecting the Royal Navy Dockyard in Bermuda.
But it got scuttled off Daniel’s Head in 1895, laying in a narrow gap in the coral reef. The bow is just above the water, serving as a popular relaxing spot for some enthusiasts.
MV Panagiotis, Zakynthos, Greece
Many travel magazines cite this shipwreck as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. And those who have gone there, support the claims. The color of the water there is something you cannot experience in many places in the world.
The wreck lays on the white sand of an exposed cove on the coast of Zakynthos. The ship ran ashore in 1980 during stormy weather. Since then, the ship was abandoned, creating a tourist attraction.
Now, the beach got a new name, Navagio. That is Greek for shipwreck.
RMS Empress of Ireland
This is one of the most recent shipwrecks. Canadian ocean liner RMS Empress of Ireland sank on May 29, 1914, after colliding with the Norwegian collier SS Storstad. Thick fog caused the collision, resulting in more than 1,000 deaths.
Empress of Ireland traveled from Quebec City to Liverpool, with a crew of 420 and 1057 passengers abroad. It remains one of the worst disasters in Canadian maritime history.
Nowadays, the wreck lies in a shallow 130ft of water. Divers have managed to successfully recover many valuables from the ship, including silver bars.
Queen Anne’s Revenge
This 18th-century warship served in the British Navy. But later on, the French captured it. Eventually, pirates captured the boat and used it to pirate the waters from 1717 onwards. Legendary pirate, Blackbeard (Edward Teach), commanded the ship. He used it only for less than a year but managed to achieve some of the greatest prizes during that time.
In 1717, Blackbeard grounded the ship and abandoned it. He managed to escape capture by the British by boarding a smaller ship.
The remains were discovered in 1996, one mile ashore from Atlantic Beach, North Carolina. More than 31 cannons have been discovered, as well as a quarter of a million artifacts.
It is now part of the US National Register of Historic Places.
We finish off the list with the most recent shipwreck, at least for this list. The Estonia ship happened in September 1994. The cruise ferry, MS Estonia, traveled from Tallinn to Stockholm. More than 800 people lost their lives in the horrifying incident.
Divers have yet to uncover the majority of the bodies. There are many theories about the sinking of the ship. But the most plausible is the rough weather conditions.
Some theories go as far as speculating bombs were planted by rival countries. After all, the ship had a history of military involvement.
Relatives of the deceased wanted to raise the ship to give a land burial to their deceased. Some experts also wanted to raise the ship for a detailed inspection. But the Swedish government decided to bury the vessel and questions with it.
Per the Estonia Agreement 1995, the burial site remains a sea grave, prohibiting exploration of the wreckage.
Bonus: Pearl Harbor
We have to mention one of the biggest marine fights in war history, Pearl Harbor. The attack on Pearl Harbor caused the US to enter World War II, completely changing the outcome of the war.
Nowadays, only wrecks of two vessels remain in the harbor, the USS Arizona and the USS Utah. The US government has built a USS Arizona Memorial on the spot, making it a museum that will serve as a history lesson. It also marks the resting place of sailors and marines killed during the Attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941.
More than 2 million people visit the memorial every year. Travelers can access it only by boat.