It seems to be the cornerstone of every disaster movie and the cause for every seemingly unnatural fear we have of the water: Shipwrecks. Tales from the depths tell us that these things happen and, while ships are significantly safer nowadays, it doesn't stop them from falling prey to open ocean.
Titanic spawned many a fear and hesitation for those who were looking forward to cruises in the future and, unfortunately, it was not the first ship to go down and wouldn't be the last.
While it's one of the most notable, there are many other shipwrecks throughout history that were drawn to demise via harsh weather conditions, unexplained rogue waves, fires abroad, or simply just human negligence.
Here are some of the world's worst maritime disasters, many rivaling Titanic.
20 In 1915, The RMS Lusitania, One Of The Most Infamous Wrecks
The sinking of the Lusitania was the unfortunate outcome of the first World War. It was sunk by a German submarine and the entire thing went down in roughly 18 minutes, leaving little to no time for escape or awareness of what had even happened.
19 In 1987, The MV Doña Paz, A Passenger Ferry With A Tragic Fate
The Doña Paz, one of the more recent wrecks over the last few decades, had the misfortune of colliding with another vessel. The ship also had a number of problems on that voyage, including being severely overpacked as well having no radio or available life jackets. This contributed to it being one of the worst maritime disasters in history with 4,386 lives lost.
18 In 1945, The MV Goya, Sunk By Torpedo
Surmounting the previous wreck, the sinking of the MV Goya by a Soviet ship was one of the biggest maritime War disasters. About 6,700 lives were lost on this ship, while the only survivors totaled 183. The ship was sunk via two torpedoes that hit the ship in the middle of the night. The vessel sunk in roughly four minutes.
17 In 1937, The MV Wilhelm Gustloff, Lies 80 Feet Under The Sea
The number total of wartime ship sinkings is quite high and would surprise most people. The Wilhelm Gustloff is part of that total, with 9,434 lives lost, 5,000 of which were children. With frozen torpedo boats as well as some frozen lifeboats, there was not much the crew could have done while the ship sunk, on her side, in roughly 40 minutes.
16 In 1994, The MS Estonia, One Of The 20th Century's Worst Maritime Disasters
In contrast to the others, the Estonia became one of the larger wrecks to occur during peacetime on the open sea. What brought this liner down was rapidly degrading weather conditions. With waves that measured 20+ feet, the Estonia was rolled onto her side, the ship instantly taking on water.
15 In 1996, The MV Bukoba, An 'Accident Waiting To Happen'
Many believe that the total number of those lost on the MV Bukoba was something close to 1,000. The sinking of this passenger ferry led to public outrage, as safety measures were not routinely kept in regards to nearly every aspect of the ship. It capsized out at sea and not only were rescue efforts slow, they were also woefully unprepared.
14 In 1921, The SS Hong Moh Split In Half Following A Rocky Collision
The SS Hong Moh was another unfortunate victim of poor weather conditions, but that wasn't the sole cause of its sinking. This, combined with navigation becoming nearly impossible, led the ship to crash into the rocky shoreline en route to Amoy. No electricity prevented other ships from seeing her, and the ship split in half before sinking.
13 In 1914, The RMS Empress of Ireland Fell Victim To Dense Fog
The Empress of Ireland remains Canada's worst maritime disaster. With poor visibility in foggy conditions, this ship collided with another on the Saint Lawrence River. Despite having more than enough lifeboats, the ship sunk in a matter of only 14 minutes, not allowing much time for rescue; 1,012 passengers out of 1,477 perished.
12 In 2006, The MS al-Salam Boccaccio 98 Became A Scuba Destination
The MS al-Salam Boccaccio 98 is known to have been brought down by a fire that started in the engine room. While trying to extinguish this, the ship took on too much water via the crew's efforts to extinguish it, leading to a tragic catch-22. The ship sank in ten minutes as the fire started up again despite efforts to contain it.
11 In 1904, The SS General Slocum Caught Fire In The East River
Yet another maritime tragedy ending in flames was the SS General Slocum. This steamboat dates back to its construction in 1891 but didn't last past 1904 due to a fire that broke out on board. The ship sunk in New York's East River and remains the state's second-largest maritime disaster.
10 In 2002, The MV Joola Capsized And Was Unable To Be Saved
On the MV Joola's last voyage, the ship encountered a brutal storm which the vessel could not handle. Due to the storm's chaotic nature and high winds, the ship was tossed about until it capsized, throwing passengers and cargo in its wake. While some were rescued, many others remained trapped in the ship until it became fully submerged.
9 In 1948, The SS Kiangya Was Destroyed In An Explosion And Rebuilt
This ship led a hectic history, starting with an internal explosion that nearly destroyed the vessel in 1948. The explosion was believed to have been caused by a seabed mine, possibly in place during the Second World War. Since the ship may have been holding stowaways, the total loss of life is believed to be much higher than reported.
8 In 2012, The Costa Concordia Was Sunk After Hitting An Underwater Rock
The Costa Concordia is one of the more recent maritime disasters and while not the biggest, still resulted in the loss of many a life. The ship hit an undetected rock which gouged a hole in the hull of the ship. Thinking it was an electrical system issue, the crew was unaware until the ship tilted so suddenly on its side that lifeboat rescue became nearly impossible.
7 In 1991, The Andrea Gail Inspired The Perfect Storm
Most people are familiar with this shipwreck even if they don't know that the film of the same was inspired by a true story. The Andrew Gail got caught in a massive storm around Halloween, off the coast of MA. The captain reported waves of 100 feet which remain unconfirmed to this day, but waves of nearly 40 feet were recorded. The ship was never recovered.
6 In 1968, The USCGC White Alder Collided With Another Ship
The USCGC White Alder sinking remains a military tragedy, as it collided with another vessel in the Mississippi River in 1968. While roughly half the crew was rescued, the other half perished as the ship sunk in roughly 75 feet of water. The ship was buried in the riverbed too quickly for rescue efforts to continue.
5 In 1975, The SS Edmund Fitzgerald Is The Great Lake's Most Well-Known Wreck
We often hear of strange weather on the great lakes, but the SS Edmund Fitzgerald actually fell victim to it. The vessel began taking on water in the middle of a storm that drastically reduced its visibility, and when it sunk, the entire crew perished with it. It's still the largest Great Lakes shipwreck to this day.
4 In 1985, The Rainbow Warrior, Blown Up In The Harbor
The Rainbow Warrior, a Greenpeace ship, was unfortunately brought down due to a bombing in the harbor it was docked at. Its sinking took the life of Fernando Pereira, a photographer at the time. The rest of the crew, including the captain, were thrown during a second explosion or were able to off-board with only seconds to spare.
3 In 1987, The MS Herald Of The Free Enterprise Capsized Only Moments After Leaving Port
The sinking of this vessel was mostly due to a mistake that could have been avoided. The bow-door of the ship was left open, allowing it to take on water from the moment it left port. The ship sunk quickly after that, and 193 people lost their lives in the process. While the ship was refurbished, the original negligence led to the implication of several crew members.
2 In 1999, The New Carissa, Responsible For The Worst Oil Spill In Oregon
The New Carissa was caught in a storm on her last voyage off the Oregon coast. Due to deteriorating conditions, the ship was pushed ashore before its captain had enough time to re-route or counteract its direction. When the ship ran ashore, it began leaking oil from its fuel tanks which quickly covered the shoreline.
1 In 2007, The MV Levina 1 Caught Fire, Despite A Forewarned Crew
The MV Levina 1 caught fire while at sea which is the initial cause for its sinking. Unable to extinguish the blaze, the ship rolled on its side and while lifeboats were deployed, they were severely overcrowded. Efforts to find survivors were unsuccessful, and it's still unclear how many lives were lost due to an inaccurate passenger log.