Shipwrecks can be found all over the ocean. Some scholars believe there are over 3 million shipwrecks resting on the ocean floor at this moment. We do believe that this number is a bit excessive, but nevertheless the truth is that there is an enormous number of shipwrecks in the sea. Some ships have already been found. Some are being actively searched for. And some will forever remain undiscovered.
Shipwrecks have always been fascinating. There’s just something intriguing, mysterious and eerie about them that sparks interest for them. Maybe that’s why some ships have been looked for over hundreds of years and why there are so many movies about finding shipwrecks and hidden treasure. All we know is that we like a bit of mystery and we love the sea. So, this topic came natural to us.
Some shipwrecks date back to BC and the youngest among them are a few hundred years old. In the modern days, there isn't nearly as much shipwrecks as there were back in the days. It is mostly thanks to the fact that water transportation is not as crucial as it was before. Also, water battles are not a thing anymore. Or, at least, they are not as big part of wars as they once were. That’s why a lot of shipwrecks that are being discovered nowadays are usually a few thousand years old.
That is also the reason why it is so hard to find them. The data about lost ships is either non-existent or pretty vague at best. The historians are usually left on their own when attempting to retrieve lost ships. And that is also the reason why there are so many left undiscovered. But, when talking about shipwrecks, we should start from the beginning and explain how they occur.
How do Shipwrecks Happen?
Ships can sink because of many reasons. Some of the most common ones are running aground on rocks and being damaged in a battle. Other reasons may include navigational errors, the weather, effects of age, fire or explosions, equipment failure or improper operation.
Shipwrecks usually happen because a ship runs aground on rocks, on a reef or something else. That punctures a hole in the ship’s body, which then starts taking in the water. It causes the ship to become heavier and heavier which, in the end, results in sinking.
Another way for a ship to sink is in a battle. Sea battles were brutal in the olden days. There were cannons and all sorts of artillery, which could damage the ship pretty badly. The historians have found many ships, which have succumbed to these kinds of damages. Such shipwrecks were usually found around the places where famous sea battles in the history took place.
Why are Shipwrecks Important?
Shipwrecks act like a sort of time capsules. Because of the fact that ships sink very fast and people are focused solely on leaving them as soon as possible, a lot of great items of historical values can be found on shipwrecks. It is not unusual for historians to find interesting items on board.
Primarily, we’re talking about boats from ancient times. Times of Romans and Greeks. On shipwrecks from this period, historians found a lot of ancient maritime tools, coins and even ancient statues the ships were transporting. Other things that can be found on shipwrecks are weapons, recipes, books and clothes. All these items are of great importance to historians because they all help painting the picture of the olden days.
All in all, studying shipwrecks connects us to our cultural heritage, helps us connect with the past and can be a great inspiration and a lesson for everyone.
Even though many sunken ships have already been found, experts believe that the majority still remains undiscovered. Thousands and thousands of ships have been reclaimed from the ocean floor but can you believe that there’s still so many ships to be found? Can you imagine how many knowledge and history can these lost ships provide? So, if you were wondering – yes – there is a great possibility that lost treasure awaits the lucky ones somewhere in the sea.
In short, there are two groups of shipwrecks we’d like to discuss here. The first one being the ships that have been found and the other being the ships that still haven’t been found. So, let’s dig in the essence of this blog article.
The Lost Ones
As we said, the number of lost and undiscovered shipwrecks is vastly greater than the number of ships found. Moreover, there’s many reasons for that. It is possible that wooden ships have completely dissolved in the salt water during thousands of years. Another possibility is that a ship has gone completely off route and ended up somewhere where it can’t be either reached or tracked.
Every year, on average, at least two dozen ships go missing. This only goes to prove that even with the most modern technology you are not completely safe. The best (or worst) example must be Costa Concordia which sunk in 2012. However, because of the same modern technology, the modern ships that sink usually can be found. The lost ships we’re going to talk about here date hundreds, even thousands of years back.
There are ships that are believed to be forever lost while an active search for others is still underway.
Santa Maria is one of the famous three ships that Christopher Columbus sailed on when he discovered the New World. The first two ships, Niña and Pinta made their way back home to Spain while Santa Maria never made it back. As the story goes, on Christmas Eve 1492, an experienced sailor handed the steering wheel to the one of the cabin boys. Not long has passed when he crashed the ship into a coral reef. The ship sunk but all the passengers made it out in time. It all took place somewhere on the territory of the modern-day Haiti. During the course of history, the location of the lost ship was forgotten, however silly that sounds. So, nowadays, the search for Santa Maria is still one of the most active ones.
In 2014 Barry Clifford made the news saying that he found Columbus’s lost ship. Unfortunately, UNESCO’s experts quickly denied his claims saying that this was a ship which sunk in 17th or 18th century.
One of the most famous ships that still remains undiscovered is the Griffin. Back in the 1679 the Griffon became the first boat to sail the Great Lakes. However, on its maiden journey, the ship simply vanished. It is nowhere to be find to this day.
Countless theories exist on where the ship is and how he got lost but none of them has proven right. Some believe the Griffin got attacked by native tribes. The others claim it must have been a violent storm - which is the most plausible theory. However, the ship remains lost. Today, it is still famous and referred to as “the Holy Grail” of undiscovered Great Lakes shipwrecks.
Flor de la Mar
Flor de la Mar, which is now more than 500 years old, lies lost somewhere in Southeast Asia. Also called the Flower of the Ocean, it was built in 1502 and it was one of the most famous ships that participated in the Battle of Diu in 1509. The ship survived the battle and Portuguese fleet emerged victorious. Flor del la Mar was a big part of the victory.
Ironically, after surviving a fierce sea battle, the ship famously sunk two years later. The scholars believe it was due to the weather that the ship was split in half, causing deaths completely of a big part of its crew. It is believed that Flor de la Mar sunk with the largest treasure to ever have been lost at sea. The treasure contains silver plates, gold goblets, gold coins and gold bullion galore.
On the more modern note, we will mention USS Indianapolis. The famous ship was one of the casualties of the World War II and it sunk in 1945. Being a war ship, USS Indianapolis sunk in the battle. However, some may discuss if it really was a battle.
USS Indianapolis was struck by two torpedoes of Japanese submarine. The attack was violent and quick, leaving the ship torn apart in just mere seconds. 300 men sunk along with the ship while the remaining 900 of them were left alone in the shark infested sea. The rescue mission saved only 317 men from the sea.
USS Indianapolis remains the worst naval disaster of World War II. However, it is oddly interesting that the remains of the ship were never found. They were looked for with a sonar and underwater vehicles but the searches gained no results. Some believe the problem is the immense depth on which the ship sunk which is over 3.5 kilometres deep.
The story of this ship is particularly interesting. It is not just a story about a sunken ship but it also contains a bit of mystery which makes it especially interesting. SS Baychimo was built in 1914 and was soon bought by Hudson’s Bay Company. Under their ownership, it sailed from Scotland to North America, and around Alaska and British Columbia.
However, this ship with an experienced crew took its last journey in 1931. While sailing to Vancouver, Baychimo stumbled upon bad weather and harsh waters. The reports claim that the conditions were so horrifying that the ship was rocking from side to side threatening to collapse on either side any second. The crew decided to leave the ship to save their lives because they believed it would sink any moment.
But, according to the legends, Baychimo didn’t actually sink. And, since there was no witnesses who could confirm that they’ve seen Baychimo sinking, many legends emerged. In the years that followed, numerous allegations seeing Baychimo were made. Amongst others, there were sea captains, fishermen and even Inuits who claimed to have seen the legendary ship. After 1969, the sightings stopped and since then, the people are still looking for this ghost ship.
The Found Ones
Even though the lost ships are under the veil of mystery which makes them so intriguing, the discovered shipwrecks are intriguing to the same extent. In my opinion, the discovered shipwrecks will always be that spark that lights the flame of imagination which makes the lost ships so interesting. And this is because some really interesting stuff has been retrieved from the depths of the ocean throughout the years.
People have been finding golden coins, elephant tusks, statues, cannons, art and all other sorts of valuable things. And, what’s the most important, pieces of great historical importance. So, you were wondering what are some of most famous and most interesting shipwrecks ever found? Here are some.
The Black Sea Shipwreck
Found just recently, the Black sea shipwreck may just be the best preserved shipwreck of all time. Due to the specific conditions in the Black Sea, the shipwreck seems almost intact. It was found 50 miles off the coast of Bulgaria. Scientists and maritime archaeologists believe the ship has been on that exact spot for more than 2400 years.
Over twenty meters long ship will surely help scientist understand ancient shipbuilding techniques and the ways of seafaring.
Maybe the most famous shipwreck of all is the Panagiotis shipwreck. It can be found on the Greek island of Zakynthos, on the beach called Navagio, which is accessible only by boat. This ship has become one of the most iconic sightings in Greece throughout the years.
The Panagiotis was carrying cigarettes, alcohol and, as some say, even humans. All of the goods that could be found on the Panagiotis were being smuggled from Greek island of Kefalonia to Albania. However, almost everyone agrees that the story of how the ship ended up on the beach is not completely clear. Some believe Panagiotis was being chased by authorities, some say it was abandoned and washed ashore while others claim it hit the rocks. Whatever happened, the Panagiotis will remain sunbathing on the beach for years to come.
The Eduard Bolhen Shipwreck
This, almost 100 meters long German cargo ship, ran aground in 1909. This shipwreck is best known because it is the only one located in the middle of the desert. Scholars believe it was originally very near to the coast but during the course of the hundred years it “moved” and is more than 300 meters away from the sea today.
Found in 2004, this ship dates all the way back to the third century. The Roman emperor at the time was Philip the Arab who ruled the empire from 224 to 249 AD. This ship was found around the island of Corsica in the Mediterranean Sea. Amongst other goods, the greatest treasure found on this ship was the statue of the Roman emperor which was over 2 meters tall.
The Baron Gautsch was a steamboat which was used in Austrian-Hungarian empire to carry passengers. The ship was leased by the army in 1914 when it started to carry the soldiers. A mere month after it has been repurposed, the Baron Gautsch ran into a minefield near Brijuni archipelago.
It is believed that between 200 and 400 people perished in the sinking of Baron Gautsch which makes it one of the biggest nautical tragedies on the Adriatic during the World War I. Today, the ship can be found at 40 meters depth, near the coast of Croatian town Rovinj. It is one of the most popular diving spots in Croatia.