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Under The Sea: 10 Majestic Shipwrecks You Should See In Person

Shipwrecks are the physical embodiment of history locked in real time. They are proof of way of life from as far back as the twelfth century. These wrecked fossils hold artifacts that help historians narrate timelines that are fascinating subjects for cultural history. Some of these shipwrecks remain cemented to the sea floor, while others have found their way onto the shores of beaches.

Travelers who are drawn to these magnificent structures can visit them by land or by guided deep sea excursions. Some of these you may have heard of, while the story behind these other shipwrecks still remains a mystery.

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10 Mar Sem Fim

This one is more of a yacht that a ship, which makes it all the more fascinating. Shipwrecks are typically associated with military vessels or long-forgotten pirate ships, but this modern transport can be seen in the Antarctic.

Below the icy surface, the Mar Sem Femsitrs idly in Maxwell Bay. The 76-ft boat is owned by a Brazilian journalist by the name of João Lara Mesquita. He, along with a crew of three other researchers, was onboard after the collision. Thankfully, they were rescued by the Chilean Navy.

9 Nuestra Señora de Atocha

In 1622, a fleet of ships sank amongst the forces of a hurricane near the Florida Keys. The most popular of which is the Nuestra Señora de Atocha. This ship was set to carry tons of invaluable treasure to Havana, Cuba. The load was so immense, that it took over two months to load and document everything. During the storm, all 265 passengers were killed, except for a handful who managed to survive by holding onto the mizzen mast.

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A group of American treasure hunters eventually went down to the ship to extract its treasures, which would be worth a hefty sum by today’s standards. It took some bargaining and a court battle with the State of Florida, by the pioneers were awarded the full ownership of the treasure they resurrected from Nuestra Señora de Atocha.

8 Queen Anne’s Revenge

Captained by the legendary pirate, Blackbeard, Queen Anne’s Revenge is a well-known 18th-century ship that was used primarily as a merchant (mostly slave-trading) boat until it was commandeered by Blackbeard in 1717.

The ship was discovered by the Intersal Inc crew off the coast of North Carolina in 1996. The revived over 250,000 artifacts including canons, treasures, and parts of the ship. Divers can visit the wreckage today if they are up for a 28-foot underwater excursion.

7 U.S.S. Kittiwake

This military ship is located in the Cayman Islands and is readily accessible for amateur divers. This ship has five levels, but all of its hazards have been removed including all of the ship's doors and hinges.

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Before its demise, the U.S.S. Kittiwake was a rescue ship, namely the Auxiliary Submarine Rescue vessel (ASR-13). It weighed over 2,000 tons and reached 251-feet in length. Its services were used for nearly fifty years before she was artificially sunk in the Caribbean for divers to explore.

6 Bessie White

Bessie White acted as a Canadian coal schooner in the early 1900s. She wrecked sometime near 1920 on the shores of Fire Island Wilderness due to heavy fog. The crew escaped before Bessie was flooded with the ocean water.

The devastated ship still lies in ruins between the sheets of sand, though there is still some debate about whether or not this is the true skeleton of The Bessie White.

5 HMHS Britannic

Part of White Star Line’s Olympic class of luxury cruise liners, the Britannic is the sister ship of the world-renowned Titanic. That’s right—two of these high-quality ships failed to safely transport their passengers as promised.

Instead, while serving as a hospital ship in World War I, the Brittanic was met with a naval mine explosion off the coast of the Greek island of Kea. Only thirty of the 1,065 passengers were killed in this instance however. The ship readily sunk after this encounter and has since become the largest ship to lie on the sea’s floor.

4 Mary Rose

For over 400 years, Mary Rose was lost beneath the surface of the sea. Researchers had dived for centuries trying to discover what happened to Henry VIII's warship after it was lost in 1545. Their answer came in 1971 when it was found by the devoted investigator, Alexander McKee.

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No one knows for sure what caused her to sink, but investigators hypothesize that the size of the ship, along with the various heavy artifacts found inside, caused her to capsize. Part of Mary Rose has been taken out of the sea, along with her historical devices, and she can be seen at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.

3 SS Maheno

This ocean liner navigated under the command of the New Zealand Union Company. She mostly sailed the Tasman Sea in early 1900. During World War I, Maheno dropped off casualties (it briefly acted as a hospital ship) through the Eastern seas. After this brief career, she was given back to her owner for commercial use. Maheno was stationed at a shipbreaker yard around 1935 when the towline holding her and various other ships to the shore broke off during a cyclone.

Maheno and a crew of eight were caught in it and they drifted off to sea. Thankfully, the ship was found just a few days later with an unharmed crew. They were able to leave, but the SS Maheno sits beached and corroded on the beach of Fraser Island to this day.

2 Vasa

In 1628, the Vasa capsized and sank near Stockholm, Sweden. She spent over 300 years at the bed of the sea before she was salvaged and preserved for a museum in Scandinavia. Tourists can see the glorious 17-century ship and learn her history as well as learn how such a large ship was able to be salvaged.

Before she sank, Vasa acted as a warship between 1626 and 1628. However, she had unreliable stability. She was poorly constructed and, as such, was subject to capsizing. That’s exactly what happened in 1928 while sailing against brazen winds. Her sails pulled her down and the aggressive waves took her down into the depths of the Baltic.

1 Titanic

The story of the Titanic is legendary. While some people believe the whole situation to be a ruse in order to garner insurance money, the number of lives lost in 1912 and said it will forever be remembered in history. The Titanic lies at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean off the southeast coast of Newfoundland.

For years Titanic enthusiasts were able to sail down into these watery deaths in order to see the shipwreck route ruins of the passenger liner. Expeditions to see this ship have been delayed recently but dives are set to be resumed in 2019 for anyone who wishes to see the epic Titanic ship. 

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