There are many monuments and museums across the world that attract millions of tourists every year, who have come to marvel at these works of art. But there are also some man-made structures that are unique in the sense that they have become a popular attraction because they have been destroyed and now lay on the bottom of the ocean floor.
The seas are unpredictable, and perhaps that’s part of the reason why there is an interest in shipwrecks, and the stories of how they came to be. And the world is filled with shipwrecks, some of which are famous, and others that are just as interesting, albeit lesser-known.
These shipwrecks offer a glimpse into the past; some date as far back as the 16th century, yet are beautifully preserved and reveal more about the ships of the time, while others will forever remain in the minds of people because of the sad tales of how the vessel was lost at sea. Below are 20 images of fascinating shipwrecks which have become dive spots or places of interest, and appeal to those who are looking for an adventure -- and one that is not always easy to come by.
20 The Sweepstakes Lies Just 20 Meters Below The Surface Of An Ontario Lake
Arguably one of the most beautiful shipwrecks in the world is the Canadian schooner known as the Sweepstakes, and perhaps that’s because it can be found just 20 feet below the surface of an Ontario lake. According to Daily Mail, the vessel has become a popular tourist site, with people interested in seeing more of the ship that sunk in 1885.
The Sweepstakes was hauling coal in the summer of 1885, but sunk because her hull was damaged on shoals near Cove Island.
19 RMS Lusitania Was Sunk By A German U-Boat During WWI
Many shipwrecks offer a glimpse into the past, and the RMS Lusitania is a fine example of this. The British ocean liner was sunk by a German U-boat in 1915 (during World War I) according to Britannica. The ship sunk within 20 minutes off, and the majority of its passengers drowned.
At the time it was built, it was considered to be the largest ship in the world and measured 240 meters in length. The ship was also celebrated for its speed and not long after its maiden voyage, it won a shipping award for the fastest Atlantic crossing.
18 Giannis D Found Itself Perched Upon A Coral Reef Before Falling To The Ocean Floor
The Giannis D was a cargo ship which was originally built in Japan as the Shoyo Maru, but was later sold to the Dumarc Shipping and Trading Corporation in Greece and renamed the Giannis D, Red Sea Wreck Project reports.
The ship was 99.5 meters in length and ran aground on the northwest edge of the Sha’ab Abu Nuhas Reef (in the northern Red Sea). It was unable to be repaired and remained on top of the reef for weeks before a storm broke it up and sunk it beneath the ocean.
17 The Frigate 356 In Cayman Brac Is A Spot Favored By Divers
The Soviet-built, 330-foot Frigate 356 has become a tourist attraction in the northwest coast of Cayman Brac, where eager divers go to explore the wreckage.
According to Cayman 27, The Cayman Islands government purchased the frigate from Cuba, and it is considered a cold war relic. The Cayman Islands website expanded on this, revealing that the ship had been built for the Cuban Navy, but after being purchased by the Cayman Islands government for tourism, it was renamed MV Captain Keith Tibbetts in honor of a dive operator.
16 The German U-Boat U576 Met Its Fate During WWII
Earlier on this list, we mentioned a ship that sunk because of a German U-Boat, but now we bring you the wreckage of one; the German U-576. According to Daily Mail, the wreck can be found 30 miles off the coast of North Carolina and was sunk during a battle in 1942 (during World War II). Despite sinking then, it was only located in 2014, using sonar devices.
The area where it sank was the same place where the Germans sunk multiple merchant ships and disrupted trade routes.
15 Australia's S.S Yongala Was Not Seen For More Than 50 Years
The S.S Yongala was a passenger ship that sank off the coast of Queensland, Australia, in 1911, Yongala Dive reports. The vessel was sunk during a cyclone and was not found again for almost 50 years, finally being located in 1958.
Now, it has become a popular dive site and is considered to be Australia’s most famous wreck dive. It is also believed to be one of the best because of the diverse marine life that surrounds the wreck, including schools of barracuda, giant marble rays, and turtles.
14 The Khanka, Or Russian Wreck, Is Now A Place Of Interest And Diverse Marine Life
The Khanka, or the Russian Wreck, as it’s most commonly referred to, was a Russian surveillance ship, Red Sea Wreck Project reports. The wreck can be found 24 meters below the surface in the western bay of Zabargad Island, and the publication states that it is believed to have sunk prior to 1985, although the reason for its sinking seems to be unclear.
Like many other shipwrecks featured on this list, the Russian Wreck has also become a place of interest for those who want to see marine life, as well as the remains of a spy ship.
13 The Mars Warship Was The Leader Of The Swedish Navy
The Mars (or Makalös as it is also referred to) is a Swedish warship that was named after the Roman god of war, and dates back to the 16th century, Ancient Origins reports. At the time of its creation, it was one of the biggest battleships around and the leader of the Swedish Navy.
The vessel is believed to have sunk in the Baltic Sea after it caught flames during a battle between Swedish and German sailors in 1564, National Geographic reports. Despite its age, The Mars is “the best-preserved vessel of its kind.”
12 Bad Weather Conditions And Poor Visibility Sunk The SS Lina
The SS Lina is another shipwreck that is worth mentioning and according to Krnica Dive, it sunk in the Kvarner bay, close to the coastline, because of bad weather conditions. The year was 1914, and in thick fog, the vessel lost its way and hit the shore of Cres island. At the time, the SS Lina had been carrying wooden cargo.
According to Dive Booker, it sunk quickly, and the average depth of the site where the vessel now lays is around 18 meters, with a maximum depth of 57 meters.
11 During World War II, The SS Thistlegorm Was Sunk By A 'Surprise Attack'
The SS Thistlegorm was lost to the seas in 1941, and according to Dive Magazine, it is the “world’s most dived wreck.”
Putting the diving appeal of this wreck aside for a moment, there are many other interesting things to know about the vessel, which is considered an armed freighter. Facts about it include that it weighed as much as 4,900 tonnes and was part of a fleet of ships on their way to Alexandria to resupply the British army at Tobruk, Libya. On its way, it was sunk by a “surprise attack” from two German bomber planes.
10 The Mar Sem Fim Looked Hauntingly Beautiful As It Appeared To Glow In The Cold Waters
Of all of the shipwrecks on this list, it is the Mar Sem Fim that looks the most haunting because it almost looks as though it is glowing beneath the water. The 76-foot long vessel was a Brazilian research vessel that got into trouble in Antarctica when it became stuck in ice during severe weather conditions, Sometimes Interesting reports. Although the crew managed to get to safety (helped by the Chilean Navy), the vessel was not as lucky and ended up sinking below the waters of the shallow Maxwell Bay.
9 A Storm Claimed The RMS Rhone, Which Lay Undiscovered For More Than A Century
Many people have extreme excitement when they are waiting for a parcel to arrive, and if it goes missing in the post then that joy suddenly turns to disappointment. A lot of people must have been feeling that way when the UK Royal Mail Ship, known as the RMS Rhone, sunk in 1865, although what happened was far worse than just a few letters being lost at sea.
According to The British Virgin Islands Tourism website, the vessel was carrying mail and passengers from England to the Caribbean when it was caught up in a terrible storm and crashed into Salt Island. The publication notes that it split into two, and sunk, lying forgotten for almost 100 years.
8 The SS President Coolidge Still Contains Pieces Of Interiors That Once Existed
The SS President Coolidge has been lying under water for over 75 years, and according to Daily Mail, it was sunk in 1942, during World War II. The vessel was a luxury liner aimed at tourists wanting an adventure but later became a troopship, helping to evacuate those injured during Pearl Harbor. It met its fate when it ran into two mines, and ended up sinking off Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu.
One of the most interesting things about this shipwreck is that it’s not just the outer shell of the vessel that remains, but also pieces of the interior, including bottles and pots.
7 Bianca C Is Also Referred To As The 'Titanic Of The Caribbean'
The Bianca C was a passenger ship that sank off the island of Grenada in 1961, and according to ScubaTech, it is sometimes referred to as the “Titanic of the Caribbean.” It sank after an explosion in the engine room, which caused a fire to spread throughout the vessel, although all except two people made it off alive.
The vessel is 180 meters long and located in 50 meters of water. It has been named by dive magazines as being one of the best shipwrecks to explore, Cruise Line History reports.
6 Titanic Is One Of The Most Well-Known Shipwrecks (With The Saddest History)
No list of shipwrecks would be complete without a mention of the most famous one of all, the Titanic. Since it sunk in the North Atlantic Ocean in 1912, the Titanic has been the subject of much media attention, and although the stories of what happened to the people onboard are real tearjerkers, more recently the shipwreck has been making headlines for another reason. It may disappear.
According to News.com.au, the wreckage lies 3800m below the surface and is being eroded. Scientists estimate that the wreckage will be destroyed completely by 2030.
5 The Sea Tiger Didn't Meet The Same Fate As Many Vessels, Rather It Was Sunk On Purpose
The Sea Tiger shipwreck can be found on the south shore of Oahu near Honolulu, and according to Oahu Diving, it is very easy to access for those interesting in diving and exploring the wreckage. The site also notes that the vessel was Chinese owned and was in the water illegally (transporting illegal immigrants), resulting in it being confiscated by the United States Coast Guard.
Unlike many other wreckages on this list, the Sea Tiger didn’t meet its fate in the open waters, rather it was auctioned off, and then purposefully sunk and left in the location.
4 A 19th Century Shipwreck Off The Gulf Of Mexico Was Found Over 200 Years Later
Sometimes it's the oldest shipwrecks that are the most interesting because they have the best stories, or, in the case of this 19th-century shipwreck located in the Gulf of Mexico, it is the air of mystery that surrounds it that makes it all the more appealing.
According to Huffington Post, the wreckage is believed to be around 200 years old, with artifacts found on it including glass bottles and a ceramic plate, the latter of which is believed to have been popular between 1800 and 1830. The vessel was only discovered in 2011, by Shell Oil Company, who located it quite by chance during a gas survey in the area.
3 A Collision With Another Ship Sent The RMS Republic To The Ocean Floor (Along With A Fortune)
The RMS Republic sunk off the coast of Nantucket after it collided with another vessel, the Italian steamship, Florida. According to History, during the heavy fog, Florida had steered off course, puncturing the hull of the Republic and causing it to sink.
At the time, the vessel had been thought of as unsinkable and was celebrated for being an incredibly advanced passenger vessel for its time, History reports. It was also favored by many wealthy passengers, and here’s where the really interesting part of the vessel's history comes into play; it is believed to have been carrying a fortune for Russia’s Czar Nicholas II. This fortune consisted of “mint-condition American Eagle gold coins,” which today, would be worth the equivalent of over $1 billion.
2 The Captain Of The Umbria Would Rather Sink His Ship Than Let The British Have Its Cargo
The Umbria was an Italian cargo ship, measuring 153 meters long, which was carrying 360,000 aircraft bombs when it sunk 20 miles from Port Sudan in the Red Sea, BBC notes. Interestingly, the captain chose to sink his own ship, rather than have the British acquire the cargo.
You may notice that this is not the first entry on this list involving the Red Sea, and that’s because, as noted by BBC, it served as an important route during World War II.
1 Queen Anne's Revenge Is Famously Known As Blackbeard's Ship
Queen Anne's Revenge is one of the most famous shipwrecks in the world, according to History, and many people may know of it because it was headed by the pirate, Blackbeard.
The publication notes that the vessel was a warship, that was the first part of the British Navy but was later captured by pirates. It was Blackbeard’s for a year, which he used to pillage until he ran aground with it in 1718. He is believed to have been fleeing from the British and abandoned the ship for a smaller one, which he used to aid his escape.
References: Daily Mail, ScubaTech, Cruiseline History, News.com.au, Britannica, Red Sea Wreck Project, Cayman Islands, Ancient Origins, National Geographic, Dive Magazine, Huffington Post, History, BBC, History