Gold, artefacts, and mysterious ancient weapons are things that are sometimes found on famous shipwrecks. The UN estimates that there are 3 million shipwrecks out there. Most of them are innocuous, but some of them are famous for going down in a blaze or for something amazing being discovered inside the wreck. This is a list of 10 famous shipwrecks you won’t believe.

Nuestra Senora De Las Mercedes

famous shipwrecks Four_frigates_capturing_Spanish_treasure_ships_(5_October_1804)_by_Francis_Sartorius,_National_Maritime_Museum,UK

Imagine finding a Spanish ship filled with gold worth $500 million dollars. Now imagine you went to court had to return it to the country it came from. In 1804 a Spanish ship called the Nuestra Senora de las Mercedes, set off from Spain with a giant horde of gold. They ran into in the British along their journey, a country who they were currently at peace with. However, Brigadier Jose Guerra felt that they were still at war, for whatever reason, and ordered his men to attack the enemy ship.

The British completely out-gunned, and outnumbered them, and with just one shot they sent the Spanish ship to the bottom of the ocean. The treasure was lost for hundreds of years until it was finally discovered by a company called Odyssey Marine Exploration. After finding the gold in what must have been an expensive operation they were forced to return it to the Spanish.

MS World Discoverer

Passenger’s lives were put in grave danger when the MS World Discoverer crashed into a rock at the Soloman Islands. Those aboard managed to escape before the ship went down, and board another passenger ferry. The Captain stayed aboard and attempted to sail it to Roderick Bay before it sank completely. Captain Oliver Kruess managed to ground the ship before it sank. The Shipwreck lay there throughout the Soloman Islands Civil War. The war, as well as some looting, left the ship badly damaged, and it was never able to salvaged. Nothing of value is left on the ship, but it does act as a tourist attraction. It’s one of the most famous shipwrecks in recent history.

Steamship S.S. Republic


While this ship was sailing to South America, to help it rebound after it’s destructive civil war, it was caught in a devastating storm and wasn’t seen again for hundreds of years. The ship was bursting with gold and silver. It will have been a blow to the South to lose a valuable ship when they needed it. It wasn’t found until 2003, 100 miles off the coast of Georgia. The ship is worth $180,000,000. An amazing assortment of 19th century artefacts were discovered on the ship. Every single one of the passengers managed to escape on the four lifeboats, and a raft they had to quickly make. For 48 hours they had to cling on to these boats for dear life, as 40 foot waves crashed down on top of them. Eventually they made it to safety, when the passenger’s were found by the sailing ship Horace Beals.

MV Dona Paz

The MV Dona Paz was sihpping over 8,000 barrels of gasoline and petroleum, making it almost a giant bomb, just waiting to be set off. In December 20, 1987 the ship crashed into the MT Vector. What resulted was one of the deadliest maritime disasters in history. The crash caused the Vector to catch fire, a fire which quickly set the MV Dona Paz alight as well. The passengers escaped as quickly as they could but there were still 4,400 casualties. One of the passengers revealed that all the sea around the ship had caught fire, and so passengers had no choice but to jump into a sea of fire to try and escape. The blame was put on the Vector which was unseaworthy, and operating without a license. Only 26 people survived.

The Titanic


Without a doubt the titanic is one of the most famous shipwrecks of all time. It’s story has been adapted into art countless times, from films, to books to video games. The Titanic set off from Southampton on 10 April 1912, before it set off, it was announced that “Not even god could sink this ship.” It’s wreck was discovered 12,415 ft underwater, 70 years after it crashed into an iceberg. The ship was filled with some of the wealthiest people in the world, and many poorer people hoping to make a new life in North America.

The Vasa

The Vasa was the royal ship for the King of Sweden. King Gustavus Adolphus ordered it to be built for the war against Poland-Lithuania from 1621 to 1629. In 1628 the Vasa set sail on it’s maiden voyage and crashed a mile out. In the 17th century most of it’s valuable bronze cannons were salvaged and because of this it fell into relative obscurity. The ship became big news in the 1950’s when it was discovered in busy shipping lane. The ship was salvaged over a period of many years, and was used to create the Vasa museum. It’s become one of the most popular shipwrecks in the world thanks to this museum.

American Battleship U.S.S. Arizona


The USS Arizona is an American battleship which was destroyed in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour. One of the Japanese bombs exploded in a powder magazine and caused the entire ship to blow up violently. Over 1000 people died during the incident. The Ship is still at the bottom of Pearl Harbour, and only parts of the ship were ever salvaged. It was one of the few ships that was damaged so badly it could never be repaired. A memorial was built on top of the ship to honour the men who died on it.



German U-boats destroyed the RMS Lusitania during the early period of world war two, 1915. After being torpedoed the ship went down in 18 minutes. 1,198 people died because of it, only a minority of people were saved. It turned out to be disastrous for Germany, even though they had successfully sunk a British ship. Public opinion all over the world turned against them, and it became one of the main reasons the war was being fought against Germany. Submarine warfare was still a relatively new area to both sides, and tactics for defending against submarine attacks were still primitive.

Queen Anne’s Revenge


This is Captain Blackbeard’s most famous ship even though he only used it for a year. He scored some of his biggest heists using this ship. The ship had quite a life, it was used as a merchant ship by the British, captured by the French a year later in 1711, and then used as a slave ship until it was captured by Blackbeard in 1717. He eventually had to abandon the ship after it run aground as he was escaping from the British. He boarded a smaller ship and escaped on their. The wreck was recently found in North America.

The Bismarck

The Bismarck was Germany’s most famous warship and responsible for destroying the famous British battlecruiser, HMS Hood. This was such a blow to the British that they launched a fierce hunt to sink the Bismarck. Not long later the Bismarck was attacked by 16 torpedo bombers from the HMS Ark Royal, which caused massive damage to the Bismarck. It managed to survive the incident but fell in battle the next day. The shipwreck was eventually discovered in 1989 by Robert Ballard.

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