Famous shipwrecks that remain missing — and a few that have been found

Editor’s Note: Monthly Ticket is a CNN Travel collection that spotlights a number of the most fascinating matters within the journey world. In October, we shift our focus to the offbeat, highlighting every little thing from (allegedly) haunted areas to deserted locations.


In March 2022, the world set free a collective gasp when the remarkably preserved shipwreck of Ernest Shackleton’s HMS Endurance was discovered nearly two miles beneath the icy Antarctic seas.

But scores extra sunken vessels remain on the ocean flooring, awaiting rediscovery.

Here are a number of the world’s most infamously elusive shipwrecks, plus a few you’ll be able to see for your self (some with out even getting moist).

A lowly cabin boy shouldered the blame for the sinking of Christopher Columbus’ Santa Maria flagship off the coast of Haiti on Christmas Eve 1492. The inexperienced sailor is alleged to have taken the wheel after Columbus went for a nap, and shortly after wrote off the ship by crashing it into a coral reef.

That’s one principle, anyway. However the Italian explorer’s ship met its destiny, pleasure bubbled over in May 2014, when archaeologist Barry Clifford claimed he’d chanced upon its long-lost wreck.

Maritime historical past buffs’ hearts sank after UNESCO poured cold water on the declare, saying the ship that’d been found was from a a lot later interval.

The Santa Maria continues to be down there, someplace.

This 16th-century service provider ship – or “carrack” – shuttled between India and its dwelling in Portugal. But given its mammoth dimension – 118 feet-long and 111-feet-high – it was an unwieldy beast to captain.

Perhaps it was solely a matter of time earlier than the Flor de la Mar went down, which it did in a heavy storm off Sumatra, Indonesia in 1511.

Most of the crew perished, and its booty – stated to incorporate all the private fortune of a Portuguese governor, price a cool $2.6 billion in in the present day’s cash – was misplaced.

Recently, a fictionalized model of the pirate Zheng Yi Sao went searching for the treasure on an episode of British sci-fi series “Doctor Who,” solely to unleash the dreaded Sea Devils.

It could not have its personal theme music sung by Celine Dion, however the SS Waratah is named “Australia’s Titanic” – and for good purpose.

A passenger cargo ship constructed to journey between Europe and Australia with a stopover in Africa, the Waratah disappeared shortly after steaming off from the town of Durban in present-day South Africa in 1909 – simply three years earlier than the Titanic tragedy. As for the trigger, theories abound.

The total liner, full with eight staterooms, music lounge and all 211 passengers and crew, was by no means found. Ninety years after the Waratah went down, the National Underwater and Marine Agency thought they’d lastly found it, however it was a false alarm.

Said the late thriller author Clive Cussler, who spent a lot of his life trying to find the wreck, “I guess she is going to continue to be elusive a while longer.”

Rotten Tomatoes’ “Tomatometer” would possibly rack up a rancid 17% for the 2016 Nicolas Cage film, “USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage,” however in actual life, the ship performed a game-ending function in World War II.

The Indianapolis was chosen to move the uranium core of the “Little Boy” nuclear bomb to Tinian Island, the place the weapon was assembled shortly earlier than getting used to devastating impact on Hiroshima.

The drop-off of the lethal cargo went with out a hitch, however on its return journey, the Indianapolis was hit by a Japanese sub, with many crew members perishing from shark assaults and salt poisoning.

The precise whereabouts of the warship remained a thriller for many years, however was finally located by a workforce led by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, in 2017 – 18,000 toes beneath the floor of the Pacific.

A man takes a picture of a pulley block, one of several recovered artefacts brought up from sunken São José.

Not only one shipwreck, however a complete ghastly style of them.

It’s estimated some 1,000 ships now on the underside of the ocean have been complicit within the depraved “triangular trade” throughout the Atlantic that noticed some 12-13 million Africans compelled into slavery.

Many of those ships sank in turbulent climate, such because the São José, which went down off the coast of South Africa in 1794.

Others, just like the Clotilda, have been purposefully scuttled by their house owners, to cowl up proof of slave buying and selling, lengthy after the 1807 Act Prohibiting Importation of Slaves.

The wrecks of each these vessels have now been positioned – the São José due to the work of Diving With a Purpose (DWP), a group of largely Black scuba divers who dive on the websites of sunken slave ships, and carry the likes of rusted manacles and iron ballasts to the floor.

It’s not possible to retrieve such objects with out additionally dredging up tales of human struggling, though DWP’s purpose is to doc slavery’s nefarious legacy, utilizing it to teach and enlighten.

Still, such ships are notoriously elusive, and many could by no means see the sunshine of day once more.

Mehmed Çakir was diving for sponges off the coast of Yalıkavak, Turkey in 1982, when he occurred upon the stays of a buying and selling ship that had sunk right here some 3,000 years earlier.

His was the primary of many dives – over 22,400 in actual fact – to carry up the long-lost treasures of the Uluburun, and what a haul it was; 10 tons of copper ingots; 70,000 glass and faience beads; olive oil and pomegranates saved in Cypriot pottery jars.

Some of the horde can now be seen on the Bodrum Museum of Underwater Archaeology, and whereas not a lot of the Bronze Age wreck survives, there’s a cross part reconstruction, which supplies a really feel for the way it might have been stacked with all these items, all these centuries in the past.

The Vasa is now on display at a museum in Stockholm.

Eerily intact, the 17th century warship Vasa seems extra like a prop from the “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise, than a ship that first (and final) set sail in 1628.

The Swedish behemoth made it about 1,300 meters out of port earlier than it went down, and was solely pulled from its silty grave some 333 years later.

A crew of archaeologists (who took typhoid and tetanus jabs to guard themselves from varied bacterias) found a hull bristling with 700 sculptures and decorations of mermaids, lions and Biblical figures – what has been described as basically a “gigantic billboard for Sweden and Gustav II Adolf,” the nation’s redoubtable king of the time.

Since a devoted museum opened in Stockholm in 1990, the Vasa has turn out to be one of many world’s least elusive shipwrecks, ogled thus far by some 25 million guests.

Spied from the banks of the River Clyde at Greenock in Scotland, you would possibly mistake the wreck of the MV Captayannis for a lately demised whale.

The black hull of this Greek sugar-carrying boat, rolled onto its aspect, is a favourite perch for feathered residents of a close by chook sanctuary – and has been, because the ship went down in a squall in January 1974.

It’s stated nobody took accountability for the so-called “sugar boat,” therefore why it’s nonetheless wedged into a sandbank – a gauche reminder of the ocean’s capriciousness.

Still, it’s a blessing for native boat charters like Wreckspeditions, who’ll take maritime rubberneckers up shut, whereas pouring them a scorching chocolate.

If scuba diving is what floats your boat, chances are high you’ve heard of Chuuk Lagoon.

On this sprinkling of islands 1,000 miles northeast of Papua New Guinea, the Japanese arrange their most formidable World War II naval base – that is, till Operation Hailstone was launched in 1944, with Allied forces sending some 60 Japanese ships and plane to a watery grave.

With most of them nonetheless down there, Chuuk Lagoon has turn out to be a mawkish subaquatic museum for divers to gawk at barnacled tanks from the San Francisco Maru or the long-abandoned compass and engine telegraphs of the Nippo Maru.

“Open 24 hours” declares Google Maps optimistically in regards to the shipwreck of the MS World Discoverer.

Since the cruise ship MS World Discoverer struck one thing onerous, and half-sank off the shores of Roderick Bay within the Solomon Islands in 2000, it’s turn out to be a vacationer attraction for passing ships (all passengers, it ought to be identified, have been helped to security).

Gently rusting away, at a 46-degree record, the ship seems prefer it turned on its aspect, and went to sleep. If nothing else, it’ll have you counting the lifeboats by yourself vessel as you sail by.

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