There is something eerily and hauntingly beautiful about shipwrecks. All over the world, there are numerous boats and ships left to rust, decay and accumulating sea life right out from under them over the many years. Rustic ships are left on shores with only their skeleton remaining and the ones that have sunken to the very bottom of the sea have sad stories of loss and mystery.
Whether they sway along the shore or have said their last goodbyes while sinking to the ocean floor, the thousands of ships that have been found hold a unique history. Did Mother Nature strike, causing extensive damage to these ships? Was there an error in the craftsmanship, which resulted in a perilous end? From warships to cruise ships, despite their intimidating size, have been left to decay beyond recognition. Today, some of these ships are in such disarray that they have become eerie over the years, sitting on the shore or at the bottom of the deep blue sea abandoned.
There are many reasons why a ship meets its unlucky dire end. Whether a ship loses its battle with Mother Nature or faulty work leads to disaster, shipwrecks provide insight on what happened and how it can be prevented the next time a ship sails the same waters. We've gathered 25 photos of eerie shipwrecks from all across the globe that has been sitting on the coast or in the sea for years.
25 Gytheio, Greece
The Dimitrios shipwreck is located on the sandy beach near Gythio, Greece and is easily accessible, which has made it quite a famous shipwreck. The ship was built in 1950 and was supposedly used to smuggle cigarettes between Turkey and Italy. The ship was seized by the port authorities of Gythio and was later left to be dragged by the sea where it currently sits on Valtaki beach. Dimitrios was then set on fire to hide any evidence of cigarette smuggling and has been stranded on the picturesque beach since December 23, 1981. Another rumor about the ship is that is actually a ghost ship of unknown origins.
24 Oregon, United States
The wreckage of the Peter Iredale in Oregon has become a tourist attraction even though all that remains is its rusted skeleton. The 275-foot sailing ship made it through the mouth of the Columbia River through heavy fog, but was turned around by a strong wind and hitting Clatsop beach so hard, three of its four masts snapped on impact. The ship ran ashore in 1906 and has been admired by many people since it is one of the most accessible shipwrecks of the Graveyard of the Pacific. Over the last 101 years it has been deteriorating and during low tide, visitors can walk right up to the shipwreck.
23 Fuerteventura, Canary Islands
The SS American Star, an ocean liner that first set sail in 1940, was once hailed the most beautiful ships to ever fly the U.S. flag. Today, it is one of the most recognizable shipwrecks when it ran aground off Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands in 1994. Sadly, this amazing ship was left to nature and within 48 hours of tough and pounding surf of the Atlantic, the SS American Star broke in two and the stern section soon collapsing and sinking to the bottom of the sea. In October 2006, the ship had almost completely collapsed into its port side and in 2008, only a small tip of the bow remains above the waterline.
22 Truk Lagoon, Micronesia
Truk Lagoon, also known as Chuuk, a group of tropical islands in Micronesia is a scuba divers paradise. There are more than fifty major shipwrecks from World War II line the seabed. In 1944, Americans launched Operation Hailstone and the bombardment lasted for three days, which wiped out 60 ships and 275 airplanes. Many of the wrecks were left untouched for years because people feared that they would set off thousands of sunken bombs. In many of the shipwrecks, divers have found full cargo holds full of fighter aircraft, tanks, bulldozers, railroad cars, motorcycles, mines, bombs, thousands of weapons and human remains.
21 Giglio, Italy
Off the shore of the island of Giglio, Italy lies the overturned Costa Concordia when it struck an underwater rock on January 13, 2012, resulting in 32 deaths. The ship was just eight years old and was on its first leg of a cruise around the Mediterranean Sea when she struck a rock formation on the sea floor. While we hear the saying, "the captain goes down with the ship," Captain Francesco Schettino left his ship prematurely and was later found guilty of manslaughter in the connection with the disaster and was sentenced to sixteen years in prison.
20 Tobermory, Ontario, Canada
There are multiple shipwreck dive sites in Tobermory, Ontario, Canada. One of the most well-known shipwrecks is the Sweepstakes Shipwreck because it is so easily visible at the harbor and a top attraction. In 1885, the Sweepstakes hit a rock near Cove Island and sank in shallow water close to the light station. She was later towed into Big Tub Harbor but could not be repaired and sank to her present location. The ship is nearly intact and sits in six meters of water. The wreck can be visited by glass-bottom boat tours and is a unique sight to see.
19 Port of Spain Harbour, Trinidad And Tobago
This is just one of many shipwrecks around Port of Spain Harbour in Trinidad and Tobago. Some have called the area an iron graveyard and the country has become somewhat of a dumping ground for ships, according to Trinidad and Tobago Guardian. In recent years, the many shipwrecks have become an issue for the nation as two of these ships have been leaking oil and diesel into the sea. "The EMA (Environmental Management Authority) should also get involved now as there are hazardous fluids coming out of the sunken ships that will cause severe damage to beaches, yachts, marinas, jetties and ocean life," Steven Valdez, a member of the T&T Game Fishing Association told the Guardian. For now, the sea remains an eerie sight of abandoned and decaying ships.
18 Langdon Bay, Kent, United Kingdom
The wreck of the SS Falcon remains in Langdon Bay, Kent, the United Kingdom after she sank in October 1926. The ship was heavily loaded with matches and jute, a rough fiber made from the stems of a tropical Old World plant, used for making twine and rope. The ship caught on fire, and even with an attempt to tow her back to safety, the SS Falcon was a lost cause and with a fear that she would block Dover Harbor, she was towed to Langdon Bay where her remains are in surprisingly good condition. According to UK Shore, "the SS Falcon can be reached by descending a steep zig-zag path down the Langdon cliffs."
17 Ushuaia, Argentina
According to Outside Online, Ushuaia, Argentina is often referred to as "El Fin Del Mundo," The End of the World because of its location. Ushuaia is commonly regarded as the southernmost city in the world, located at 54 degrees south; the port of the Beagle Channel is the jumping off point for Antarctica and the Southern Ocean. Ushuaia is also known as the place where ships go to die. A city is a resting place for many ships, including ST Christopher, first built in 1943 as a U.S. Navy tug and later abandoned in 1957. The weather changes rapidly in the area with Ushuaia getting cold, windy and desolate.
16 Off Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
The Grand Cayman's USS Kittiwake Shipwreck is one of the best-known wreck dives in the Caribbean. Located off Seven Mile Beach in Grand Cayman, the ship lies in shallow waters making it a very popular site for divers. According to ship database site hullnumber.com, the USS Kittiwake is a Chanticleer-class submarine rescue ship during World War II. The 251-foot was first launched in 1945 and decommissioned in 1994. After its 49 years of service, the Cayman Islands decided to add a shipwreck to its world-class scuba diving after asking the United States Maritime Association. The ship was properly cleaned, towed and sunk to the bottom of the site it is now. It is a beautiful ship that is iconic and a favorite among divers, snorkelers and free divers.
15 Homebush Bay, Australia
In a hidden corner of Sydney Harbor is a shipwreck that has been taken over by nature. The wreck of the SS Ayrfield has been completely covered by trees, branches, and barks which have created a green dome over the skeleton of this ship. The shipwreck is described as eerie, however, it's becoming a tourist attraction. The SS Ayrfield is just one of at least seven ships left abandoned close to the heavily wooded banks of Homebush Bay. "At certain times of the day the soundless wrecks take on an altogether different atmosphere, like a flotilla of ghost ships approaching the shore," news.co.su describes.
14 Navagio Bay, Zakynthos Island, Greece
Known as The Shipwreck Beach, this stunning beach with crystal clear blue waters and amazing views is located on the Greek island Zakynthos. What makes this island unique is the rusted shipwreck located literally right on the sand. The beach is an exposed cove, sometimes referred to as "Smugglers Cove" and has become highly popular because of the MV Panagiotis, which ran aground in the waters around Zakynthos Island on Navagio Beach during stormy weather and was abandoned. It is rumored that the ship was used to smuggle contraband like cigarettes, wine, and even women. Today, it’s a popular tourist destination.
13 Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu
The SS President Coolidge was a luxury liner that was later turned into a troopship from 1941 until 1942 during World War II. The ship is the largest and most accessible shipwrecks in the world that sank as a result of hitting two mines. A large military based was established on Espiritu Santo and protected by a number of mines. Information on how to get in safely was left omitted from the sailing orders and so, fearing Japanese submarines and not knowing about the mines, a mine struck the ship in the engine room and another mine hit her near her stern. Captain Henry Nelson ran the ship aground and ordered troops to abandon ship. The SS President Coolidge went to her side, sank and slid down into the channel.
12 Off The Coast Of Newfoundland, North Atlantic Ocean
The most famous shipwreck, the RMS Titanic sank in 1912, when she struck an iceberg while on a maiden voyage from Southampton, England to New York City. The Titanic was believed to be unsinkable, but sadly on April 14, 1912, she sank and more than 1,500 people lost their lives. It has been over a century since the infamous sinking and today, the Titanic is covered with what looks like rusty icicles, formations that eat away at ship's iron and give the appearance that the ship is melting reports Ocean Today. Deep-sea bacteria are steadily consuming the ship with experts predicting that the ship will last a little more than 20 years, according to the BBC.
11 Honolulu, Hawaii
The Sea Tiger wreck in Honolulu, Hawaii is a former Chinese trading vessel named Yun Fong Seong No. 303. The Sea Tiger is at a depth of 80-110 feet and is surrounded by stunning marine life, including white tip reef sharks, six-foot sea turtles, moray eels, eagle rays and schools of fish swimming through the ship. According to Scubadiving.com, the ship was confiscated in the early 1900s for carrying more than 90 illegal immigrants into the state of Hawaii. It was cleaned up and later sank in 1999 as part of a dive enrichment effort. There are minor decaying on the ship, but it is still unbelievably well intact and a must visit for expert divers.
10 Fraser Island, Australia
The corroded remains of the SS Maheno sit washed ashore on Fraser Island in Australia where it has been since July 1935. The ship was an ocean liner with routes to and from New Zealand and Australia, was used as a ship by the New Zealand Naval Forces during World War I, and as His Majesty's New Zealand Hospital Ship No. 1, when the New Zealand Government was asked to contribute a hospital ship to the allied war effort, reports the New Zealand Maritime Museum. The ship was initially built for comfort, but when the war broke out, her dining rooms were made into hospital wards, until she got lost in a severe cyclone and was found three days later beached on the shore of Fraser Island.
9 Red Sea
The Salem Express has considered Egypt's most controversial wreck dives in the Red Sea because of the tragic loss of lives when she sank just an hour away from her destination to Safaga, a town in Egypt. The Salem Express sank on December 17, 1991, when she hit the Hyndman Reef and began to sink quickly in the middle of the night. According to Dive Zone, many people refuse to dive this particular wreck because they see it as a tomb that shouldn't be touched. However, if drivers decide to explore the Salem Express, they are asked to be very respectful and not to touch anything.
8 Lake Michigan, United States
In Lake Michigan, in the shallow waters of Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore people can see one of the most obtrusive shipwrecks clearly from land. The Francisco Morazan is an eerie sight that is slowly rusting away in the lake. With the owners of the ship mysteriously never found, the ship has been abandoned off South Manitou Island since 1960. Wanting to make one last trip before winter, the ship set sail from Chicago and was bound for Holland loaded with 940-tons of cargo. However, strong winds left the decks awash and she was blinded by heavy fog and snow and ran aground in November of 1960, reports the National Park Service.
7 Pearl Harbor, Honolulu, Hawaii
The USS Arizona was a battleship built for the United States Navy in the mid-19110s. The battleship was bombed on December 7, 1941, fifteen minutes into the attack on Pearl Harbor and over one thousand sailors and Marines lost their lives, reports the National Park Service. Today, the battleship rests where she fell, and a memorial has been created around and on top of her, located on the southern end of the island of Oahu, Hawaii. The memorial honors the memory of the crew of the USS Arizona and all lives that were lost in the attack.
6 Cape Charles, Virginia
Off of a Virginia pier in Cape Charles, nine out of 24 concrete ships ever made in the United States have been left to decay. According to Atlas Obscura, the Concrete Fleet, also known as the Kiptopeke Breakwater, consists of several ships made from concrete lined end to end. There are currently nine ships crumbling off of Cape Charles, which were contracted by the U.S. Maritime Commission during World War II. Some of the ships have holes so large, smaller boats can pass through and see the inside of these large structures. If you want to get up close to these ships, you can rent a kayak and discover them yourself.
5 Nouadhibou, Mauritania
The city of Nouadhibou has been nicknamed the world's largest ship graveyard with ships brought from all over the world to practically be dumped here, left in shallow waters and decay slowly as the years go by. Atlas Obscura reports that the coast of Mauritania's Bay of Nouadhibou is littered with abandoned ships since it was cheaper to leave them here to rust than to correctly take them apart. The city of Nouadhibou is somewhat poor and dismantling a ship can be costly, so for a "small bribe" owners of ships abandon them here. You can find numerous types of ships here, including fishing trawlers, cargo vessels, and naval cruises.
4 Batumi, Georgia
Finding a shipwreck above the surface can be quite eerie. Take the Özlem shipwreck in Batumi, Georgia for example with its rusted exterior and its broken center; it sits in the waters peacefully. Özlem, which is Turkish for "Desire" rests at the shore of Batumi, Georgia's main coastal town. Atlas Obscura reports that the Turkish tanker ran ashore near the Black Sea port, and stayed in its exact location where it "sank" for years. As seen from the photo, the ship's center has broken, leaving its middle part sank into the waters and leaving its ends jutting out. The shipwreck has become a small tourist attraction for visitors, however, it's been reported that local authorities removed the wreck, which is quite a shame.
3 Cape Verde, Africa
Located off the coast of Cape Verde sits the rusty shell of the M/S Cabo Santa Maria. The Spanish cargo ship was carrying gifts from Spanish dictator Francisco Franco when, unfortunately, it ran aground in 1968. While the crew on board made it all out safely, it took a year to remove all of the cargo off the ship, which included, sports cars, machines, medicine, clothing, food, and beverages, which were to be given to the dictator's supporters. After fifty years, the ship sits on the shores with waves constantly crashing into it and dismantling it.
2 The Skeleton Coast, Namibia
The northern half of Namibia's coastline is known as the "Skeleton Coast" because of the thousands of shipwrecks and whale carcasses scattering the shore. One of the eeriest shipwrecks is the Dunedin Star, which is pictured above. According to AFK Travel, the 530-foot long British liner crashed on the shore in 1942, with some people blaming a reef, while others blamed a German U-boat. The rescue effort took approximately 26 days because of the violent surf so there were a number of failed attempts. Today, the ship remains in the sand and its massive shell is quite spooky. Due to the terrible conditions, many companies have refused to take their boats near Namibia's coastline.
1 The Baltic Sea
According to estimates, there are over 100,000 shipwrecks at the bottom of the Baltic Sea. However, a mysterious ship was recently found by accident in 2003 and named the Ghost Ship. Ancient Origins reports that the ship is almost intact even though investigators believe the ship was from the 17th century AD, around 1650, and that it was a merchant ship developed by the Dutch. Many of the shipwrecks in the Baltic Sea have been preserved quite well because while larger oceans typically have a salinity of 3.5%, the Baltic Sea has a salinity of 0.06-0.15%. "The low salinity of its water means that the Baltic Sea is not a suitable habitat for the shipworm, animals that are responsible for causing major damage to wooden vessels," reports Ancient Origins. You'll find many old ships in the Baltic Sea still preserved, which makes them all the more hauntingly beautiful.