Famous shipwrecks still missing and some that have been found

Editor’s note: The Monthly Ticket is a CNN travel series highlighting some of the most fascinating topics in the world of travel. In October, we shift our focus to the unusual, highlighting everything from haunted spaces to abandoned places.
(CNN) – In March 2022, the world let out a collective breath when the well-preserved wreck of Ernest Shackleton’s HMS Endurance was discovered nearly two miles beneath the icy seas of Antarctica.

But dozens more sunken ships remain at the bottom of the ocean, waiting to be rediscovered.

Here are some of the world’s most infamous shipwrecks, plus a few you can see for yourself (some without even getting wet).

Santa Maria, Haiti

A small cabin boy took the blame for the sinking of Christopher Columbus’ flagship Santa Maria off the coast of Haiti on Christmas Eve 1492. The inexperienced sailor is said to have taken the wheel after Columbus went to the nap and soon after canceled the boat crashing it into a coral reef.

That’s a theory, anyway. However the Italian explorer’s ship found its destiny, excitement arose in May 2014 when archaeologist Barry Clifford claimed to have chanced upon his lost wreck.

The hearts of maritime history buffs sank after UNESCO threw cold water on the claim, saying the ship that had been found was from a much later period.

Santa Maria is still down there somewhere.

Flower of the Sea, Sumatra

A replica of the Flower of the Sea stands in front of the Maritime Museum in Malacca, Malaysia.

A replica of the Flower of the Sea stands in front of the Maritime Museum in Malacca, Malaysia.

Tim Wimborne/Reuters

This 16th century merchant ship – or “carraca” – made the transfer between India and its home in Portugal. But given her mammoth size — 118 feet long and 111 feet high — she was a difficult beast for the captain to handle.

Perhaps it was only a matter of time before the Flower of the Sea fell, which it did in a heavy storm in Sumatra, Indonesia in 1511.

Most of the crew died and their booty — said to include the entire personal fortune of a Portuguese governor, worth about $2.6 billion in today’s money — was lost.

SS Waratah, Durban (South Africa)

It may not have its own theme song sung by Celine Dion, but the SS Waratah is known as ‘Australia’s Titanic’ and for good reason.

A passenger cargo ship built to travel between Europe and Australia with a call in Africa, the Waratah disappeared shortly after leaving the city of Durban in present-day South Africa in 1909, just three years before the tragedy of the Titanic. As for the cause, theories abound.

The entire liner, with eight cabins, music room and all 211 passengers and crew, was never found. Ninety years after the Waratah went down, the National Underwater and Marine Agency thought they had finally found it, but it was a false alarm.

Said the late thriller writer Clive Cussler, who spent much of his life searching for the wreck: “I guess it’s going to remain elusive for a while longer.”

USS Indianapolis, Philippine Sea

Rotten Tomatoes’ “Tomatometer” might rack up a stale 17% for Nicolas Cage’s 2016 film “USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage,” but in real life, the ship played a late-game role in the Second World War.

The Indianapolis was chosen to transport the uranium core of the “Little Boy” nuclear bomb to the island of Tinian, where the weapon was assembled shortly before it was used to devastating effect on Hiroshima.

The release of the deadly cargo went without a hitch, but on its return trip, the Indianapolis was rammed by a Japanese submarine, with many of the crew dying from shark attacks and salt poisoning.

The warship’s exact whereabouts remained a mystery for decades, but it was finally located by a team led by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen in 2017, 18,000 feet below the surface of the Pacific.

Slave ships, North Atlantic Ocean

A man takes a photo of a block of pulleys, one of several artifacts recovered from the sunken São José.

A man takes a photo of a block of pulleys, one of several artifacts recovered from the sunken São José.

Rodger Bosch/AFP/Getty Images

Not just a wreck, but a whole awful genre of them.

An estimated 1,000 ships now at the bottom of the ocean were complicit in the evil “triangular trade” across the Atlantic, which saw 12 to 13 million Africans forced into slavery.

Many of these ships sank in turbulent times, such as the São José, which went down off the coast of South Africa in 1794.

Others, such as the Clotilda, were purposely sunk by their owners, to cover up evidence of the slave trade, long after the 1807 Act prohibiting the importation of slaves.

The remains of both these ships have now been located: the São José thanks to the work of Diving With a Purpose (DWP), a group of mostly black divers who dive the sites of sunken slave ships and bring people in like rusty handcuffs and iron ballast on the surface.

It’s impossible to recover these objects without also dredging up stories of human suffering, although DWP’s aim is to document the terrible legacy of slavery, using it to educate and enlighten.

Still, these ships are notoriously elusive, and many may never see the light of day again.

Shipwrecks you can visit

Uluburun, Bodrum

Mehmed Çakir was sponge diving off the coast of Yalıkavak, Turkey, in 1982 when he came across the remains of a merchant ship that had sunk here some 3,000 years earlier.

His was the first of many dives — more than 22,400 in fact — that led him to tour the lost treasures of the Uluburun, and what a one it was; 10 tons of copper ingots; 70,000 glass beads and facade; olive oil and pomegranates stored in Cypriot ceramic jars.
Part of the horde can now be seen at the Museum of Underwater Archeology in Bodrum, and although not much of the Bronze Age wreck survives, there is a cross-sectional reconstruction, which gives an idea of how he would have piled up with all these goods, all those centuries ago.

The Vasa, Stockholm

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

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

Anders Wiklund/AFP/Getty Images

Strangely intact, the 17th-century warship Vasa looks more like a prop from the “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise than a ship that first (and last) set sail in 1628.

The Swedish giant made it about 1,300 meters outside the harbor before it fell, and was only exhumed from its slimy grave some 333 years later.

A crew of archaeologists (who took typhoid and tetanus shots to protect against various bacteria) discovered a bristling helmet with 700 sculptures and decorations of mermaids, lions and biblical figures, what has been described as essentially a ” Gigantic billboard for Sweden and Gustav.” II Adolf”, the fearsome king of the country at the time.

Since a dedicated museum opened in Stockholm in 1990, the Vasa has become one of the world’s least elusive shipwrecks, seen by some 25 million visitors to date.

MV Captayannis, River Clyde

Spied from the banks of the River Clyde at Greenock in Scotland, you might mistake the wreck of the MV Captayannis for a recently dead whale.

The black hull of this sugar-laden Greek ship rolled onto its side is the favorite perch of the feathered residents of a nearby bird sanctuary, and has been since the ship capsized in a gale in January 1974

It is said that no one took responsibility for the so-called “Sugar Bag”, which is why it is still sunk on a sandbank, a reminder of the capriciousness of the sea.

Still, it’s a boon to local boat charters like Wreckspeditions, who will bring the sea gummies up close while pouring them hot chocolate.

Chuuk Lagoon, Micronesia

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

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

With most of them still down there, Chuuk Lagoon has become a ghostly underwater museum for divers to look at the barnacle tanks of the San Francisco Maru or the long-abandoned compass and motor telegraphs of the Nippo Maru.

MS World Discoverer, Solomon Islands

“Open 24 hours” optimistically declares Google Maps on the wreck of the MS World Discoverer.

Ever since the cruise ship MS World Discoverer hit something hard and sank halfway off the shores of Roderick Bay in the Solomon Islands in 2000, it has become a tourist attraction for passing ships (all passengers, it should be noted, were helped to safety). ).

Rusting gently, with a list of 46 degrees, the ship appears to have turned on its side and gone to sleep. If nothing else, it will make you count the lifeboats on your own ship as you go by.

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