Help Us Uncover the World's Greatest Shipwrecks

There is something haunting, evocative, and downright iconic about a shipwreck. Both beautiful and sad, they are eerie reminders that even the grandest human constructions, vessels that dare ply the alien landscapes of our world’s waterways, can be brought low. Also, they’re cool. It’s also true that since many ships are just too large to dispose of in any economically and environmentally sound way, shipwrecks tend to just be abandoned in place, often rotting away for years. They can become tourist attractions like the wreck on Navagio Beach in Greece. They can survive longer than the waters they once plied like the seemingly desert-locked Eduard Bohlen shipwreck in Namibia. Or they even grow their own little forests like the remains of the S.S. Ayrfield in Australia. All over the world, there are incredible, unforgettable shipwrecks like these, and now we want to hear about the most amazing ones that you’ve ever discovered!

(Image: Casey Horner/Public Domain)

In the thread below, tell us about the most incredible shipwrecks that you’ve ever encountered on your travels or learned of. Tell us where they are, what makes them so special, and if you got to actually visit them, what they were like up close! And if you have pictures of your favorite shipwreck, we want to see those as well. Your submission might be included in an upcoming round-up article on Atlas Obscura!

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The wreck of the clipper King Philip lies buried in the sands of San Francisco’s western shore, Ocean Beach. However, just as San Francisco’s symbol is the Phoenix, King Philip rises up out of the sands occasionally, making appearances in 1982, '83, '84 and '85, 2007, 2010 and 2011.
In a city that was famously built out of sunken and abandoned ships, the King Philip stands out as the most well preserved of them all, with over 40% above the keel remaining. It wrecked in 1878 and remained on the beach until it was deliberately buried during roadway construction in 1910.
KPCOGS
Photo Wikimedia Commons

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The 54 year old luxury liner S.S. American Star wrecked in the Canary Islands in 1994 while being towed to a life as a floating hotel (it had a very interesting life during wartime and afterwards.) It presented quite a stunning image as it disintegrated over the next 15 years. It ran aground, broke in half, the stern disappeared and the bow rotted out from the keel up, presenting a precariously perched wreck. It’s completely gone, now.

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The GA Koehler shipwreck on Hatteras Island. It’s not always visible, but when it is it’s spectqcular. It’s burnt from when the islanders lit it on fire for the war effort.

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On a 40-hour ferry trip in Southern Chile we went past this hulk emerging from the fog. Been sitting there for 50 years. Thanks to this post I now learned the story. “Wreck of a former cargo ship carrying bagged sugar from Santos, Brazil, the CAPITÁIN LEONIDAS - IMO 5542705, ran aground on April 7, 1968 in the fjords of Canal Messier (Messier Channel), north of Angostura Inglesa (English Narrows) and the town of Puerto Eden.Ship is shown on March 14th, 2019, sitting firmly on the flattened top of a submerged mountain called Bajo Cotopaxi (Cotopaxi Bank). The water is 200 meters deep just 100 meters from this wreck positioned at 48°46’19.826” S 74°27’9.606" W." First Photo by Gordon Leggett. (By Gordon Leggett - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, File:2019-03-14 CAPITÁIN LEONIDAS - IMO 5542705.jpg - Wikimedia Commons) Close-up by me.

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I’ve enjoyed diving the SS Sapona in the Bahamas several times over the years. It is a relatively safe wreck for competent SCUBA divers without any special training because the entire ship is open to the surface, no overhead environments. Wikipedia has an article on this particular wreck which has an interesting history.

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Not one of the world’s greatest shipwrecks, just an old friend we pass each year in Pender Harbour, British Columbia. It will be removed next year and, oddly, we will miss sailing by it!

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I was in Ushuaia in Jan 2019. I saw this wreck in the harbor. Upon investigation it was a US navy WWII Rescue tug that was sold to Argentina and abandoned in the 1956. Strange that it has sat for so long and has not been salvaged.

Photo By Gabriel Resende Veiga - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, File:HMS Justice W140 (St. Christopher).jpg - Wikimedia Commons

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Off the sandy coast of Lanai Island in Hawaii lies a “shipwreck “ that’s been there for decades. Why “Shipwreck” ? This ship was towed to this location back in the day to moor for eternity. Article below explains the situation.

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Mahena%202007 Mahena%202013
I visited 75 Mile Beach on Fraser Island Australia in 2006. We were told that there were six decks below the sand. It was hard to believe by now that I see how much further the Mahena has settled, I can. (Thanks to Wikipedia for the pictures.)

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The wreck of the Peter Iredale.
A four masted steel barque that ran aground on Oct. 25 1906 on the Oregon coast on it’s way to the Columbia River.
The ship was coming up from Mexico to Portland, and a heavy Northwest squall drove her aground on Clatsop Spit quite uneventfully. all 27 on board evacuated safely.

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Hi Eric,

I authored this piece on the former USS Sachem/USS Phenakite: Queen City Discovery: The "Ghost Ship"

TL:DR - It was a private yacht pressed into service during WW1, carried Thomas Edison for a bit, went back to private life, was pressed into service once more during WW2, eventually gave tours around New York Harbor, was in the back of a Madonna music video, and is now abandoned in a creek not far from Cincinnati. The photographs at the above link are mine (unless otherwise credited/noted). If you use any of them, please provide a link back/credit.

Cheers.

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Not sure if this is technically a shipwreck, but the paddle wheel graveyard outside of Dawson City, Yukon is amazing!

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These are some awesome photos everyone! :beers::beers::beers:

In Kolonia, Pohnpei, Micronesia, there are loads of capsized ships all around the harbor. There are a couple ghost ships moored up as well. Unfortunately I don’t know the story behind them, but I got up at dawn and got some good shots. More on my IG @cpmaverick3 … please credit if photos are used anywhere. I love shipwrecks :slight_smile:

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Been to the Sapona quite a few times, but apparently the stern has fallen off since then. Cool wreck.

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WHOA. Those are gorgeous!

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Indeed! Thanks everyone for the beautiful photos and fascinating stories.

These are so cool! One of my favourites is the SS Maheno on Fraser Island in Australia.

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There’s also this one in Orkney, Scotland, which is one of the many blockships that were sunk in WW1 to stop submarines coming into Scapa Flow and blowing up the British fleet. So lots of interesting history, and in fact one used to be on a beach and I used to play on it all the time! Sadly that’s long gone now, but this one is still really well preserved and I used to drive past it every day to get to school.

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