Explorers, merchants and travellers alike have said the seas for a millennium, searching for treasures, new lands and new hope. When the seas are kind, they find their journeys are successful, however, the sea is a cruel mistress and can swiftly turn in an instance. Here are some of the most mysterious and intriguing shipwrecks that hide within our planet.
The 600-foot luxury passenger ship was originally named the ‘Marechal Petain’ before she was designed and completed in 1949. In October 1961, after changing hands at least 3 times, she was in port when and explosion ripped through the engine room. Nearly 700 passengers and crew were able to escape as the ship slowly began to sink. After burning for two whole days, her anchor was severed, and a towline was attached to her hull. They managed to tow her 3 miles before storms started and snapped the towline. The Bianca C quickly sank down nearly 160ft before settling on the bottom.
The waters of Lake Michigan off the coast of Milwaukee, USA, have seen many ships over the years, but on one particularly bad year, violent storms claimed many more to the bottom. One of those ships was the Doty, a steam shipped designed for transporting cargo across the great lakes. Doty was one of the last giant steam ships in the USA when she went down in 1898. Doty was believed to be lost and destroyed, but was later destroyed in June 2010 nearly 115 years later. She was 300ft below the freezing waves and largely intact! Which was very surprising for a wooden vessel, the Doty and the cargo were upright when the cargo was found.
After leaving the navy yard at Mare Island in California during 1921, the USS Conestoga was carrying 56 sea-men bound for Pearl Harbour. Conestoga had been in survive for 17 years and had a bit of a reputation for taking on water. However, she passed her inspections and off she went. On her first night of voyage with this crew, gale force winds began to blow as the Conestoga passed Point Bonita near San Francisca, and she and her crew were never heard from again. The navy searched for 11 days when she didn’t arrive at her destination but were unable to find her and declared both her and her crew, lost. It wasn’t until 2009 when a sonar survey 30 miles from San Fran Cisco spotted a 170ft long wreck, 200ft below the surface, 95 years after she disappeared, the navy made a formal announcement that she had been found.
First launched in 1911, the Umbria was a cruise ship that was eventually repurposed by Italy and used to transport troops to the east-African colonies. In May 1940, the newly outfitted ship was boarded by soldier from a royal navy ship whilst sailing the Red Sea and she was surged. At the time, her hold was filled with arms, ammunition rounds, explosives and detonators. Since Italy had no joined WW2 yet, the ship was held in British custody overnight. Early the next morning, the Italian captain received news that the country had formally declared war, and decided he didn’t want the 360,000 bombs and other artillery on board to fall into British hands… he came up with a solution and scuttled the ship. As water began to fill the ship, the Italians abandoned ship. Noticing the water, the British also abandoned their post, leaving the ship to sink 125ft beneath the waves. To this day, the cargo has not be salvaged.
Built in 1867, the Sweepstakes was a 190ft Canadian schooner used for transporting coal. After operating for 18 years, she was damaged in 1885 off Cover Island. She was towed to Big Tub Harbour in the Georgian Bay of Lake Huron but sank before she could be repaired. The two-masted wooden schooner had been transporting coal at the time, so the contents of her hold were removed when she hit the bottom, 20 ft down. Due to the clear water, the wreck is clearly visible from the water’s surface and is believed to be one of the best preserved 19th century schooners.
Owned by the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1921, the Baychimo was a steel-hulled 1322-ton cargo steamer. She was used to trade with Inuit settlements in the northwest territories, but in 1931, she became lodged in the ice. She had just finished a trading run and was transporting traded furs and pelts back to port. Her crew disembarked and ventured to the town of Barrow to take shelter. They returned two days later to find the Baychimo had freed herself from the ice, but trapped herself again a few days later. The company air support to retrieve the crew, but 15 of the 22 men decided to stay and wait-out the winter. Little over a month later, a terrible blizzard struck and the ship disappeared. The captain assumed the ship had sunk in the storm, but a few days later, she was seen floating unmanned by Inuit hunters. For years after, people would still see her, but she was last seen in 1969, 38 years later. Are there any infamous shipwrecks you know about?
Perhaps you’d like to find some on your own? Do leave a comment below and tell me about your experiences!