List of maritime disasters

List of maritime disasters
An advertisement for soap, using RMS Titanic (1912)

A maritime disaster is an event which usually involves a ship or ships and can involve military action. Due to the nature of maritime travel, there is often a large loss of life.


Notable disasters

The sinking of RMS Titanic in 1912 with 1,523 fatalities, is probably the most famous shipwreck.[citation needed] The wartime sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff during World War II, with an estimated loss of about 9,300 people in 1945 remains the greatest maritime disaster ever. In peacetime, the loss of the Doña Paz with an estimated 4,386 dead is the largest non-military loss recorded involving a single ship.

Peacetime disasters

Many maritime disasters happen outside the realms of war. All ships, including those of the military, are vulnerable to problems from weather conditions, faulty design or human error. Some of the disasters below occurred during periods of conflict, although their losses were unrelated to any military action. The listing is in descending order of the magnitude of casualties suffered.

RMS Empress of Ireland in 1908
General Slocum embarking passengers (date and location unknown)
MS Estonia
SS Admiral Nakhimov when she was known as the Berlin III
SS Eastland before 1917
SS Alpena pre 1880
  • MV Doña Paz (Philippines) - On 20 December 1987, the passenger ferry Doña Paz collided with the oil tanker Vector. The resulting fire and sinking left an estimated 4,341 dead.[1][2]
  • SS Kiangya (China) - The Kiangya was a passenger steamship that blew up and sank in the mouth of the Huangpu River 50 mi (80 km) south of Shanghai on 4 December 1948. The suspected cause of the explosion was the Kiangya hitting a mine left behind by the Imperial Japanese Navy during World War II. The exact death toll is unknown, however, it is thought that between 2,750 and 3,920 died with 700-1,000 survivors being picked up by other vessels.
  • SS Mont-Blanc and the Halifax Explosion (Canada) - On 6 December 1917, the city of Halifax, Nova Scotia Canada, was devastated by the huge detonation of the French cargo ship Mont-Blanc, which was fully loaded with wartime explosives, after a collision with the Norwegian ship Imo. The collision happened in "The Narrows" section of Halifax Harbour. About 2,000 people were killed by falling debris, fires or collapsing buildings, over 9,000 people were injured, particularly by flying glass.[3] This explosion is still ranked as the largest accidental explosion of conventional weapons to date.[4]
  • Le Joola (Senegal) - On 26 September 2002, the overloaded ferry Le Joola capsized in rough seas with an estimated death toll of more than 1,800.[5]
  • Tek Sing (China) A junk struck a reef near Indonesia and sank on 6 February 1822, leaving an estimated 1,600 dead.[6]
  • RMS Titanic (Great Britain) - A passenger liner and at the time the world's largest ship. On 14 April 1912, during its maiden voyage, the Titanic collided with an iceberg, buckling a part of the hull and mortally wounding the ship. In total, only 31.8% of the ship's 2,228 passengers and crew survived, leaving 1,523 dead.[7] This disaster was the catalyst for major reforms in safety for the shipping industry and is arguably the most famous maritime disaster of all time, being the subject of countless media portrayals.[8]
  • The Scilly naval disaster of 1707 (Great Britain) - On the night of 22 October 1707, a Royal Navy fleet on their way from Gibraltar to Portsmouth sailed through dangerous reefs west of the Isles of Scilly. Four ships (HMS Association, HMS Eagle, HMS Romney and HMS Firebrand) sank. The exact number of sailors killed is unknown. Statements vary between 1,400[9] and over 2,000.[10] It was later determined that the main cause of the disaster was the navigators' inability to calculate their longitude accurately.
  • Toya Maru (Japan) -A Japanese passenger ferry that sank during Typhoon Marie in the Tsugaru Strait between the Japanese islands of Hokkaidō and Honshū on 26 September 1954. It is said that 1,153 people aboard were killed in the accident. However, the exact number of fatalities remains unknown because some victims managed to get on board the ship unticketed and others cancelled their passage just before the incident.
  • RMS Empress of Ireland (Canada) - On 29 May 1914, the Empress of Ireland sank after colliding with SS Storstad on the Saint Lawrence River claiming 1,012 lives.[11]
  • Al Salam Boccaccio 98 (Egypt) - On 3 February 2006, the ro-ro passenger ferry Al Salam Boccaccio 98 sank in the Red Sea en route from Duba, Saudi Arabia, to Safaga in southern Egypt. The ship was carrying 1,312 passengers and 96 crew members at the time of the disaster. Only 388 persons were saved and over 1,000 were lost.[12]
  • SS General Slocum (United States) - The General Slocum caught fire and sank in New York's East River on 15 June 1904. More than 1,000 people died in the accident, making it New York City's worst loss-of-life incident until the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.[13]
  • SS Kiche Maru (Japan) - Sank during a typhoon in the Pacific Ocean 22 September 1912. It is estimated that more than 1,000 persons lost their lives.[14]
  • SS Hong Moh (Singapore) - On 3 March 1921, the Hong Moh struck the White Rocks on Lamock Island near Swatow (Shantou) on the southern coast of China. She broke in two and sank with the loss of about 1,000 lives out of the 1,100 aboard.
  • MS Estonia (Estonia) - The MS Estonia sank in heavy seas on 28 September 1994. An investigation claimed that the failure of the bow visor door allowed water from the Baltic Sea to enter the ship. The accident claimed almost 1,000 lives. Only 137 survived.
  • SS Eastland (United States) - On 24 July 1915, while moored to the dock in the Chicago River, the capacity load of passengers shifted to the river side of the ship causing it to roll over, killing 845 passengers and crew.
  • HMS Vanguard - (Great Britain) - Just before midnight on 9 July 1917 at Scapa Flow, HMS Vanguard suffered an explosion, probably caused by an unnoticed stokehold fire heating cordite stored against an adjacent bulkhead in one of the two magazines which served the amidships gun turrets "P" and "Q". She sank almost instantly, killing an estimated 843 men; there were only two survivors.
  • MV Bukoba (Tanzania) - The overloaded Bukoba sank on 21 May 1996 on Lake Victoria. While the ship's manifest showed 443 aboard, it is estimated that about 800 people died in the sinking.
  • HMS Royal George - sank while moored at Portsmouth while the ship was being heeled for repairs on the underside on 29 August 1782 with a full crew and a considerable number of visitors on board. The ship heeled too far and began taking water in the gun ports and sank. More than 800 lives were lost including up to 300 women and 60 children as well as the captain.
  • HMS Bulwark (Great Britain) - On 26 November 1914, a powerful internal explosion ripped the Bulwark apart at 7:50am while she was moored at Number 17 buoy in Kethole Reach, 4 mi (6.4 km) west of Sheerness in the River Medway estuary. All of her officers were lost, and out of her complement of 750, only 14 sailors survived; two of these men subsequently died of their injuries in hospital.
  • SS Camorta (Great Britain) - The Camorta was caught in a cyclone and sank in the Irrawaddy Delta on 6 May 1902 with the loss of all 655 passengers and 82 crew. She was en route from Madras, India, to Rangoon, Burma, across the Bay of Bengal.
  • MV Princess of the Stars (Philippines) - On 21 June 2008, the ferry Princess of the Stars capsized and sank in Typhoon Fengshen off the coast of San Fernando, Romblon, in the Philippines. Of the estimated 747 people aboard, only 57 survived.
  • SS Norge (Denmark) - On 28 June 1904 the Norge ran aground close to Rockall on St. Helen's Reef. The final death toll was 635 with 160 survivors who spent up to eight days in open lifeboats before rescue.
  • Ramdas (India) - On 17 July 1947 the Ramdas capsized 10 miles from Mumbai, killing 625 people on board. The disaster only became known as survivors swam ashore.
  • Novorossiysk (Soviet Union) - On 29 October 1955, the Novorossiysk was moored in Sevastopol Bay, 300 meters (1000 feet) from shore and opposite a hospital. At 1:30am, an explosion of undetermined origin occurred. The Novorossiysk capsized and sank with the loss of 608 sailors.
  • Shamia (Bangladesh) - On 27 May 1986, the ferry Shamia capsized and sank during a storm on the Meghna River in southern Barisa, Bangladesh. An estimated 600 people lost their lives.
  • SS Princess Alice (Great Britain) - On 3 September 1878 the Princess Alice was making what was billed as a "Moonlight Trip" to Gravesend and back. The Bywell Castle collided with the Princess Alice off Tripcock Point. The Princess Alice broke in two and sank within four minutes with an estimated 600 people losing their lives.
  • SS Grandcamp (United States) - On 16 April 1947, the French registered ex-liberty ship caught fire and exploded dockside while being loaded with ammonium nitrate at Texas City, Texas. In what came to be called the Texas City Disaster an estimated 581 people, including 28 firefighters, were killed and 5,000 were injured.
  • SS La Bourgogne (France) - The passenger steamer was sunk on 4 July 1898 after a collision in dense fog with the British ship Cromartyshire off Cape Sable, Nova Scotia. At the time of the disaster she was carrying 730 passengers and crew, of whom 565 were lost.[15]
  • RMS Atlantic (Great Britain) - During the ship's 19th voyage, on 1 April 1873, it ran onto rocks and sank off the coast of Nova Scotia, killing 535 people.
  • Ertuğrul (Ottoman Empire) - Sank on 18 September 1890 after striking a reef during a typhoon off Kushimoto, Japan. The maritime accident resulted in the loss of 533 sailors including Admiral Ali Osman Pasha.
  • HMS Sussex (Great Britain) - The Sussex was lost in a severe storm on 1 March 1694 off Gibraltar. There were only two survivors out of a crew of 500.
  • SS Valbanera (Spain) - Sank in the Gulf of Mexico 45 mi (72 km) west of Key West, Florida during a hurricane in September 1919. All of the 488 crew and passengers were killed.
  • HMS Captain (Great Britain) - On 7 September 1870, the Captain capsized and sank in high winds on the Atlantic Ocean. An estimated 480 sailors perished, 18 sailors survived.
  • Cospatrick (Great Britain) - The Cospatrick caught fire south of the Cape of Good Hope on 17 November 1874 while on a voyage from Gravesend, England, to Auckland, New Zealand. Only three of 472 persons on board at the time ultimately survived.
  • MV Salahuddin-2 (Bangladesh) - On the night of 3 May 2002, the ferry Salahuddin-2 sank in the Meghna River south of Dhaka, Bangladesh, killing more than 450 people.
  • SS Central America (United States) - Sank off the Carolinas during a hurricane on 9 September 1857. An estimated 425 out of 578 aboard perished.
  • SS Admiral Nakhimov (Soviet Union) - On 31 August 1986, Admiral Nakhimov collided with the large bulk carrier Pyotr Vasyov in Tsemes Bay, near the port of Novorossiysk, Russian SFSR. 423 of the 1,234 people on board died.
  • MV Nasrin-1 (Bangladesh) - At midnight on 8 July 2003, the passenger ferry Nasrin-1 capsized and sank in the Meghna River near Chandpur, Bangladesh, killing more than 400 people.
  • Reina Regente (Spain) - the cruiser sank in a storm on 9 March 1895, with the loss of all 420 crewmen.
  • Cataraqui (Great Britain) - An emigrant ship bound for Australia, the Cataraqui struck a reef south-west of King Island, Tasmania, on 4 August 1845. The sinking is Australia's worst ever maritime civil disaster, claiming the lives of 400 people.
  • Lady Elgin (United States) - Sunk in a collision with the schooner Augusta of Oswego on Lake Michigan on 8 September 1860 with the loss of about 400 lives.
  • HMS Invincible (Great Britain) - On 16 March 1801, she was damaged in a storm and driven onto a sandbar off the coast of Norfolk. The following day the Invincible drifted off the sandbar and sank in deep water. Over 400 sailors drowned in the disaster, 196 were saved.
  • RMS Tayleur (Great Britain) - In what would come to foreshadow the Titanic tragedy, the Charles Moore & Company clipper ship Tayleur grounded and sank during its maiden voyage. The accident happened off Lambay Island, Dublin Bay, on 21 January 1854. Out of the 652 people on board 380 lives were lost, many of them immigrants.
  • HMS Eurydice (Great Britain) - On 24 March 1878,[16] the training ship Eurydice was caught in a heavy snow storm off the Isle of Wight, capsized, and sank. Only two of the ship's 378 crew and trainees survived, most of those not carried down with the ship dying of exposure in the freezing waters.
  • Arniston - On 30 May 1815, the East Indiaman was wrecked during a storm on the South African coast after a navigational error; 372 lives were lost, with only 6 survivors.
  • HMS Victoria (Great Britain) - Accidentally rammed by the HMS Camperdown and sank on 22 June 1893 during annual summer fleet exercises off Tripoli in Syria (now part of Lebanon) when Admiral Tryon ordered two parallel lines of ships to turn toward each other. Out of a crew of 715 aboard the Victoria, 357 crew were rescued, 358 died. Known as Admiral Tryon's blunder.
  • SIEV X (Australia) - A boat carrying over 400 Asylum seekers to Australia sank on October 19, 2001. 353 people died in the disaster. The Australian government has been strongly criticized for not doing anything to help the survivors for three days.
  • HMS Athenienne (Great Britain) - On the evening of 20 October 1806, she struck a submerged reef on the Esquirques, in the Strait of Sicily and sank. In all, 347 people died, 141 men and two women were rescued.
  • SS Princess Sophia (Canada) - The Princess Sophia ran aground on 23 October 1918. After rescue ships were unable to assist due to the ongoing storm, she sank on the night of 25 October. The only survivor found was a pet dog from the 343 aboard.
  • SS Schiller (Germany) - On 7 May 1875, the Schiller sank after hitting the Retarrier Ledges in the Isles of Scilly. Most of her crew and passengers were lost, totalling 335 fatalities.
  • SS Elbe (Germany) - Sank on 30 January 1895 after a collision with the steamship Crathie in the North Sea. One lifeboat with 20 people in it was recovered out of 354 passengers on the ship.
  • Yoshino (Japan) - On 14 May 1904, the cruiser sank with the loss of 319 lives after a collision. 19 survived.
  • Liberté (France) - battleship that suffered an accidental ammunition explosion in 1911, about 300 people were killed.
  • SS Pacific (United States) - On the evening of 4 November 1875, the Pacific was involved in a collision with the SS Orpheus off the coast of Cape Flattery, Washington. Both vessels continued on their way, the captain of the Orpheus later testified he was unaware of the collision. Only two people survived out of 300 on board.
  • Northfleet (Great Britain) - On the night of 22 January 1873, the Northfleet was at anchor about two or three miles (5 km) off Dungeness. Around 10.30 pm, she was run down by the steamer Murillo that backed off and disappeared into the darkness. In the ensuing panic a total of 293 people were drowned.
  • New Era (United States) - On 13 November 1854, the New Era sank after grounding in a storm at Deal Beach in New Jersey. Of the 427 aboard, an estimated 284 died.[17]
  • USS Maine (United States) - On 15 February 1898, while at anchor in Havana (Cuba) harbor, an explosion of undetermined origin in the ship's magazine damaged and sank the ship. Of the 374 officers and men aboard, 266 died immediately, another eight died later from their injuries. The sinking of the Maine precipitated the Spanish-American War.
  • Great Lakes Storm of 1913 (United States) - A cyclonic blizzard (sometimes referred to as an inland hurricane) on the Great Lakes that occurred between 7 and 10 November 1913. In total 12 ships were sunk with a combined crew loss of 255. An additional seven ships were damaged beyond repair, 19 more ships that had been stranded were later salvaged.
  • Powhatan (United States) - On 16 April 1854, the Powhatan sank off the coast of New Jersey in a severe storm with no survivors. The loss of life was estimated by various sources to be between 250 and 311 people.[18]
  • HMS Avenger (Great Britain) - The Avenger sailed from Gibraltar on 17 December 1847 bound for Malta. On 20 December she ran onto the Sorelle Rocks near Malta. Only eight crew members out of 250 survived.
  • Neva (Great Britain) - The Neva was a convict ship that left Cork, Ireland, bound for Sydney, Australia. On 13 May 1835, the ship was wrecked on a reef near King Island, Tasmania. 224 lives, mainly women and children, were lost.
  • SS Waratah (Great Britain) - Around 27 July 1909, the 500 ft (150 m) steamer Waratah, en route from Australia to London, was lost without trace off Durban on the east-coast of South Africa. All 211 on board were lost. The disappearance of the ship remains one of the most baffling nautical mysteries of all time.
  • Iolaire (United Kingdom) - The Iolaire (Scottish Gaelic for "Eagle") was an Admiralty yacht that hit rocks and sank on 1 January 1919 just off the island of Lewis, carrying soldiers coming home from World War I. At least 205 men perished of the 280 aboard.
  • Sovnarkom - on 10 May 1921 crashed into Novosibirsk railway bridge and sank in the Ob river, resulting in the death of at least 225 (according to other estimates, 400).
  • Brazilian battleship Aquidabã (Brazil) was a Brazilian ironclad warship built in the mid-1880s. On 21 January 1906, the powder magazines of the ship blew up, sinking the ship within three minutes. 212 people were killed.
  • SS Heraklion (Greece) - On 8 December 1966, while en route from the port of Souda to Piraeus in Athens, the RO-RO car ferry capsized and sank in the Aegean Sea. The sinking resulted in the deaths of over 200 people with 47 being saved. It was later determined that an unsecured vehicle had broken through the loading door, which allowed seawater to enter the ship.
  • SS Atlantic (United States) - Sank after a collision with the steamer Ogdensburg off Long Point on Lake Erie on 20 August 1852. It is estimated that between 150 and 200 people lost their lives of the more than 500 persons on board.[19][20]
  • MS Herald of Free Enterprise (Great Britain) - Capsized and sank on 6 March 1987 due to taking on water just minutes after leaving the harbour at Zeebrugge in Belgium. The doors to the car decks were left open by the Assistant Bosun, Mark Stanley, causing the ferry to take on water and quickly capsize. Of the 539 aboard, 193 passengers and crew died.
  • SS Portland (United States) - On 26 November 1898, the steamship SS Portland left India Wharf in Boston, Massachusetts, for Portland, Maine, on a regularly scheduled run. She never reached her destination. None of the 192 passengers and crew survived the massive storm that also wreaked havoc on New England's coast — a storm that was later dubbed "The Portland Gale" after the tragic loss of the ship.
  • SS Southern Cross (Canada) - Lost in a storm between 31 March and 3 April 1914. Believed to be in the vicinity of Cape Pine. The entire crew of 173 were lost in the sinking.
  • SS Florizel (Canada) - Sank after striking a reef at Horn Head Point Cape Race near Cappahayden, Newfoundland, Canada, on 23 February 1918. 173 people died.
  • Shiun Maru (Japan) -11 May 1955 Collided in dense fog with sister ship Uko Maru in the Seto Inland Sea and sank with the loss of 166 passengers and two crew members.
  • Madagascar - The full rigged ship disappeared without a trace in 1853 after sailing from Melbourne for London, with the loss of about 110 passengers and about 50 crew.
  • MS Scandinavian Star (Denmark) - caught fire in 1990 on route between Norway and Denmark with the loss of 157 lives.
  • MV Princess of the Orient (Philippines) - On 18 September 1998, the Princess of the Orient, while traveling from Manila to Cebu, sailed into Typhoon Vicky. She capsized at 12:55 pm near Fortune Island in Batangas. Of 388 passengers on board, an estimated 150 perished. Passengers floated in the sea for more than 12 hours before rescuers were able to reach the survivors.
  • SS Larchmont (United States) - On 12 February 1907, the paddlewheel steamship Larchmont sank off Block Island, Rhode Island after a collision with the schooner Harry Knowlton. An estimated 150 persons of the 200 on board died.[21]
  • MS Express Samina (Greece) - On 26 September 2000, the RO-RO ferry Express Samina hit a reef and sank at 23:02 near the island of Paros. 143 people died: 82 of the 473 passengers, plus 61 crew.
  • MV Cebu City (Philippines) - On 2 December 1994, the ferry sank in Manila Bay after colliding with a Singaporean freighter, the Kota Suria. The accident claimed 140 lives.
  • Moby Prince (Italy) - On 10 April 1991, the ferry Moby Prince collided with the oil tanker Agip Abruzzo in Livorno harbour and caught fire, killing 140 people.
  • SS Wairarapa (New Zealand) - On 29 October 1894, the steamship Wairarapa, en route from Sydney to Auckland, ran into Great Barrier Island. She was traveling at nearly full speed through heavy fog. Approximately 140 out of 230 people on board lost their lives.
  • SS Noronic (Canada) - Caught fire at the dockside in Toronto Harbour on 16 September 1949. Estimates ranged from 118 to 139 fatalities. Most of the deaths were from suffocation or burns. However, some died from being trampled or from leaping off the upper decks onto the pier; only one person drowned.
  • SS Koombana - A coastal passenger and cargo steamship in Western Australia which sank at an unknown location during a cyclone on 20 March 1912 with the loss of approximately 138 lives, including 20 crew. Other than some floating wreckage, no trace was ever found of the ship.
  • SS Morro Castle (United States) - In the early morning hours of 8 September 1934, while en route from Havana to New York, the Morro Castle caught fire and burned, killing 137 passengers and crew members out of the 549 on board. The ship was beached near Asbury Park, New Jersey, and remained there for several months until she was eventually towed away and sold for scrap.
  • SS Kuru (Finland) - A steamship that sank after capsizing in high winds on 7 September 1929 in Lake Näsijärvi near Tampere, Finland. It is estimated that between 136 and 138 people lost their lives.
  • SS Valencia (United States) - Shortly before midnight on 22 January 1906, she struck a reef near Pachena Point on the southwest coast of Vancouver Island and sank. Estimates of the number of lives lost in the disaster vary widely, with some sources listing it at 117 while others claim it was as high as 181; according to the federal report, the official death toll was 136 persons. 37 men survived, but every woman and child on the Valencia died in the disaster.
  • Aleksandr Suvorov (near Ulyanovsk, Soviet Union) - on 5 June 1983 Suvorov crashed into a girder of the Ulyanovsk railway bridge. The catastrophe led to 177 deaths yet the ship stayed afloat, was restored and is still in use.
  • Majakovskis (Riga, Soviet Union) - sank in the Daugava on 13 August 1950, 147 perished.
  • RMS Quetta - A British India Line merchant ship, on a regular route between Great Britain, India and the Far East. She was wrecked on the Far North Queensland coast on 28 February 1890. Of the 292 people aboard, 134 perished.
  • MV Princess Victoria (United Kingdom) - Sank on 31 January 1953 in the North Channel (between Scotland and Northern Ireland), during a severe storm with the loss of 133 lives. The sinking of the Princess Victoria was the deadliest maritime disaster in United Kingdom waters since World War II.
  • Bulgaria (near Syukeyevo, Tatarstan, Russia) - sank in the Kuybyshev Reservoir of the Volga river on 10 July 2011 in a storm while when sailing from the town of Bolgar to the Kazan. Of the 201 people aboard 112 perished.
  • HMS Ontario (Great Britain) - The Ontario sank in a storm on 31 October 1780 while under way from Fort Niagara to Oswego. Approximately 130 men perished with the ship,[22] comprising 60 British soldiers of the 34th (Cumberland) Regiment of Foot, a crew of about 40 Canadians and possibly up to 30 American prisoners of war. News of the Ontario's sinking was kept quiet for a number of years to hide the military loss.[23]
  • The Fourth disaster - a boat sank in the Volga near Yaroslavl, Soviet Union on 9 July 1933. At least 98 perished.
  • TSMS Lakonia (Greece) - Caught fire and burned in the Atlantic Ocean on 22 December 1963. 128 people died, of whom 95 were passengers and 33 were crew members. Only 53 people were killed in the actual fire. The rest died from exposure, drowning, and injuries sustained while diving overboard.
  • SS Daphne (Great Britain) - The SS Daphne capsized and sank moments after her naming and launching at a shipyard in Govan,Glasgow, Scotland, on 3 July 1883. When launched, the Daphne had a work crew aboard to continue fitting out the ship. Although 70 people were saved, an estimated 124-195 died, which included many young boys.
  • SS City of Rio de Janeiro (United States) - En route from Hong Kong, this passenger ship sank on 21 February 1901 after striking a submerged reef at the entry to San Francisco Bay, killing more than 135 passengers and crew.
  • SS Bokhara (Great Britain) - A steamship that sank in a typhoon on 10 October 1892, off the coast of Formosa, killing 125 people.
  • SS Hilda (Great Britain) - A steamship on a cross-Channel run that sank in 1905 with the loss of 125 lives.
  • Dunbar - She was wrecked near the entrance to Sydney Harbour, Australia, in 1857 with the loss of 121 lives.
  • SS Yongala (Australia) - The Yongala sank off Cape Bowling Green, Australia, after steaming into a cyclone. There were no survivors of the 122 on board.
  • SS Mohegan (Great Britain) - A steamer that sank off Cornwall after hitting a reef on 14 October 1898, with the loss of 106 lives; 40 were rescued by shore-based lifeboat.
  • SS Gothenburg (Great Britain) - A steamship that was wrecked on the Barrier Reef off the north Queensland coast in a cyclone-strength storm, killing between 98 and 112 persons, 22 survived.
  • SS City of Columbus (United States) - A passenger steamer that ran aground off Massachusetts in January 1884. Approximately 100 people froze to death or drowned, only 29 were saved by land-based rowboats and a revenue cutter.
  • HMS Thetis (United Kingdom) - A T class submarine that sank in Liverpool Bay on 1 June 1939 after inadvertent opening of both doors of a torpedo tube to the sea whilst diving. A total of 99 people died, including shipyard workers who were onboard for sea trials. Raised and refitted, as HMS Thunderbolt the boat was later sunk by Italian A/S forces in the Mediterranean in March 1943.
  • USS Huron (United States) - On 23 November 1877, the Huron departed for a scientific cruise on the coast of Cuba. The Huron encountered heavy weather soon after departure and was wrecked shortly after 1 am on 24 November near Nags Head, North Carolina. For a time her crew worked in relatively little danger, attempting to free their ship but she soon heeled over, carrying 98 officers and men to their deaths.
  • Hans Hedtoft (Denmark) - The Hans Hedtoft, a Danish liner sailing from Greenland, struck an iceberg and sank on 30 January 1959. Besides the 40 crew members, there were 55 passengers on board at the time. There were no survivors. The Hans Hedtoft was on its maiden voyage and was said to be "unsinkable" due to its strong design.
  • [DS Seacrest] Unocal's Drillship "Seacrest" capsized in the Gulf of Thailand on November 3, 1989 during the passage of Typhoon "Gay." 91 of her crew compliment of 97 went to the bottom.
  • SS Yarmouth Castle (Panama) - The Yarmouth Castle was a steamship whose loss in a disastrous fire in 1965 prompted new laws regarding safety at sea. 87 people went down with the ship, three of the rescued passengers later died in hospital, bringing the final death toll to 90.
  • SS Home (United States) - On 7 October 1837, the Home struck a sandbar off the New Jersey coast. Unaware of the extent of the damage, her captain proceeded on schedule toward Charleston when she encountered the 1837 Racer's Storm. The Home started taking on water as she rounded Cape Hatteras and was put aground to ride out the developing storm. Before rescue operations could be effected the next day, the Home was torn to pieces by the surf and 90 lives were lost.
  • SS Rohilla - On 30 October 1914 Rohilla struck Whitby Rock, a reef at Saltwick south of Whitby. Many of the 229 people on board were saved, but 85 died in the disaster.
  • Metropolis (United States) - On 31 January 1878, the wooden steamer Metropolis sank off the North Carolina coast with 85 dying in the accident.[24]
  • HMAS Voyager (Australia) - On the evening of 10 February 1964, while undergoing post-refit exercises, the destroyer HMAS Voyager was rammed and sunk off Jervis Bay, New South Wales, by the aircraft carrier HMAS Melbourne, which was also carrying-out post-refit exercises.[25] 82 of the 314 personnel aboard Voyager were killed;[25] the largest loss of military life in Australia's peacetime history.
  • Currach Fishing Tragedy (Ireland) - On 11 February 1813, 200 currachs were fishing off Bruckless Bay, Donegal. The shoal of herring moved out to sea, followed by the fragile boats. A sudden storm capsized most of them. Over 80 fishermen drowned [26]
  • Alpena (United States) - The Alpena was a sidewheel steamer that capsized and sank on Lake Michigan in the "Big Blow" storm of 15 October 1880. An estimated 80 people lost their lives in the sinking.
  • SS Stella - English passenger ferry that was wrecked on a submerged reef on 30 March 1899, 78 were people lost of the 190 passengers and crew on board.
  • MV George Prince (Louisiana, United States)- On October 20, 1976, a small automobile ferry crossing the Mississippi River capsized and sank when it collided with the tanker SS Frosta. Of the 96 passengers and crew aboard the ferry, 78 died.
  • SS Penguin (New Zealand) - On 12 February 1909, the inter-island ferry Penguin hit a rock near the entrance to Wellington Harbour, sinking then exploding when water entered her boiler room. Of the 105 people on board, 75 died.
  • HMS Affray (United Kingdom) - an Amphion class submarine which disappeared on 16 April 1951, during a training exercise in the English Channel with the loss of all 75 lives. She was the last Royal Navy submarine to be lost at sea.
  • USS Frank E. Evans (United States) - In the early morning of 3 June 1969, while operating as a plane guard for the Australian aircraft carrier HMAS Melbourne during the SEATO training exercise Sea Spirit, the destroyer crossed the bows of the carrier and was rammed and sunk.[27] Of the 273 aboard Evans, 74 died.[27] The handling of the inquiry into the collision was seen as detrimental to United States-Australia relations.[27]
  • SS Naronic (Great Britain) - The ship was lost at sea after leaving Liverpool on February 11, 1893 bound for New York, with the loss of all 74 people on board. The ship's fate is a mystery that remains unsolved to this day.
  • STV Royston Grange (United Kingdom) - The British cargo liner Royston Grange was destroyed by fire after a collision with the petroleum tanker Tien Chee in the Rio de la Plata on 11 May 1972. There were no survivors from the 72 aboard.
  • HMS M1 (United Kingdom) - A submarine that sank with all hands (69) on 12 November 1925 after being struck by the Swedish ship SS Vidar while submerged in the English Channel.
  • HMS Cobra (1899) (United Kingdom) - HMS Cobra was a turbine-powered destroyer of the Royal Navy. Her short career came to an end when she broke her back and sank near Cromer on 18 September 1901. Twelve men were saved; 67 drowned.
  • HMS Truculent (United Kingdom) - A T class submarine that sank in the Thames Estuary on 12 January 1950 after colliding with the Swedish oil tanker Divina. A total of 64 people died, most in freezing cold mid-winter conditions after escaping the collision.
  • HMS K5 (United Kingdom) - A British K class submarine, lost with all hands (57) on 20 January 1921 when she sank en route to a mock battle in the Bay of Biscay.
  • Lucy Walker (United States) - On 23 October 1844, the sidewheel steamboat Lucy Walker was en route from Louisville, Kentucky; to New Orleans, Louisiana, when her three boilers exploded, the boat caught fire and sank mid-stream in the Ohio River, about four miles below New Albany, Indiana. Pieces of boat and humanity were washed up on both the Indiana and Kentucky banks of the river. Since passenger and crew lists were lost, estimates of deaths range from 50 to 100 persons killed, with some 50 survivors. The boat may have been engaged in a race with another vessel, her captain driving the Lucy Walker's engines too hard.
  • Clallam (Canada) - A steamboat which on January 9th, 1903 sank in a storm with the loss of 56 lives.
  • SS Mackinac (United States) - late in the afternoon of 18 August 1925, the 162-foot excursion ship was passing the Naval Station off Newport, Rhode Island, when its boiler exploded, killing 55 passengers. The ship was on a day cruise from Pawtucket, Rhode Island, to Newport, [Harbor] Rhode Island, in order for passengers to enjoy the sites and beaches of the city. The bulk of the injuries and deaths were due to burns and smoke or steam inhalation, although some jumped overboard, none died from drowning. Many boats came to the rescue, while the ship remained afloat. Over 600 passengers survived the melee, many without injury. The ship's skipper was Captain George W. McVey, who had also been captain of the SS Larchmont when she was involved in her own drama (see above), which occurred in an area less than 20 miles away, in 1907. []
  • TEV "Wahine ( New Zealand) The "Wahine", an inter island ferry, foundered on Barrett Reef at the entrance to Wellington harbour and capsized near Steeple Rock. Of the 610 passengers and 123 crew on board, 53 people lost their lives.
  • SS Andrea Doria (Italy) - On 25 July 1956, approaching the coast of Nantucket, Massachusetts, bound for New York City, the Andrea Doria collided with the eastward-bound MS Stockholm. 1,660 passengers and crew were rescued and survived, while 46 people died as a consequence of the collision. In what became one of history's most famous maritime disasters, the loss of the Andrea Doria generated great interest in the media and was responsible for many lawsuits.
  • Dix (steamboat) (United States) On November 18, 1906 Dix sunk after a collission with the loss of over 45 lives.
  • SS Elingamite (Australia) - The ship was wrecked in 1902 off the north coast of New Zealand carrying a large consignment of gold with the loss of 45 lives. Now the Elingamite wreck is a favourite site for adventurous divers because of the drama associated with it, and wild tales of lost treasure.
  • MV Derbyshire (United Kingdom) - Lost on 9 September 1980, south of Japan, during Typhoon Orchid. All aboard (42 crew and 2 spouses) perished. At 91,655 gross tons she was, and remains, the largest UK ship to have ever been lost at sea.
  • SS Islander (Canada) - On 15 August 1901, while sailing down the narrow Lynn Canal south of Juneau, the Islander struck what was reported to be an iceberg that stove a large hole in her forward port quarter. The Islander sank quickly, with 40 lives lost out of the 172 on board.
  • Sechelt (steamboat) (United States) - Sank On Friday, March 24, March 1911 under mysterious circumstances with the loss of 37 lives.
  • Carl D. Bradley - Sank on Lake Michigan in a 18 November 1958 storm with the loss of 33 crewmen.
  • MV Demas Victory - a Dubai-based supply steamer capsized 10 nmi (12 mi; 19 km) off the coast of the Qatari capital city of Doha in rough seas on Tuesday, 30 June 2009, at 6:30am local time. The disaster resulted in over 30 missing.[28]
  • Lake Superior gale on 10 November 1975 in 530 ft (160 m) of water. There were no survivors from her crew of 29.
  • Superior City (United States) - Sank in 1920 in Whitefish Bay on Lake Superior after a collision with the Willis L. King with the loss of 29 lives. The boiler exploded as the vessel sank.
  • SS Daniel J. Morrell (United States) - A Great Lakes freighter that broke up during a strong storm 29 November 1966 on Lake Huron. Of the 29 crewmen aboard, 28 died.
  • HMS Gladiator (Great Britain) - Sank off the Isle of Wight on 25 April 1908 with the loss of 27. The Gladiator was heading into port when she struck the outbound SS Saint Paul.
  • Charles K. Buckley - Lumber schooner destroyed by high speed winds on 5 April 1914. Only one man from the crew of eight survived.[29]
  • Finance - Outbound to Panama sank off Sandy Hook on 26 November 1910 after being rammed by the White Star freighter Georgic. Four died.[30]
  • Eleanor Lancaster (Great Britain)- was wrecked in a gale on Oyster Bank, Newcastle, New South Wales, on 7 November 1856. She was on passage from Newcastle to Melbourne with 640 tons of coal, under the command of Captain James McLean. All fifteen crew were rescued by a Mr. Skelton, who rowed out to them three times from the shore. The event is described in the anonymous 19th century poem "The Perilous Gate".
  • Andrea Gail (United States) - Sank on October 1991 with a crew of six during "The Perfect Storm".

Wartime disasters

SS Sultana in April, 1865
Imperator Aleksander III

Disasters with high losses of life occur during times of armed conflict. Shown below are some of the known events with major losses.

Pre World War II

  • Spanish Armada - On 8 August 1588, Philip II of Spain sent the Armada to invade England. Spain lost 15,000-20,000 soldiers and sailors.
  • HMS Revenge (Great Britain) - After being captured in battle, the Revenge was lost in a storm near the Azores in 1591. An estimated 200 Spanish sailors who captured her lost their lives in the sinking.
  • Kronan (Sweden) - During the Battle of Öland in 1676, the Kronan capsized while turning. Gunpowder on board ignited which resulted in an explosion. Of the estimated 800 on board, 42 survived.
  • HMS Birkenhead - The troopship struck a rock near Cape Town on 26 February 1852 while ferrying troops to the 8th Xhosa War. The ship sank with the loss of 450 men.
  • Indomptable (France) - Sank in a storm on 22 October 1805 during the Battle of Trafalgar. Of the 1,200 sailors aboard, 1,050 were killed.
  • Troopships Rochdale and Prince of Wales - Bound for the Napoleonic war were caught by a storm in Dublin Bay and lost on 19 November 1807. Over 400 lives were lost.
  • SS Sultana (United States) - A Mississippi river paddlewheeler being used as a troop transport. On 27 April 1865, one of the ship's four boilers exploded, setting the ship on fire and leaving an estimated 1,800 dead and 500 injured.
  • During the Battle of Tsushima, the decisive naval battle of the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905, two-thirds of the Russian fleet was destroyed. The Russians suffered 4,380 killed and 5,917 captured, including two admirals; 1,862 were interned. The battleships Knyaz Suvorov, Imperator Aleksander III, Borodino and Oslyabya were sunk.
  • Petropavlovsk (Russia) - During the Russo-Japanese War, the Russian battleship was sunk on 31 March 1904 after striking two mines near the Port Arthur naval base. A total of 18 officers, including an Imperial vice admiral and 620 men were lost.
  • Hatsuse (Japan) - A Japanese battleship that hit a mine on 15 May 1904 and sunk 496 men.
  • Takasago (Japan) was a 2nd class protected cruiser of the Imperial Japanese Navy, the Takasago struck a mine and sank off Port Arthur on 13 December 1904, with the loss of 273 officers and crew.
  • Takachiho - (Japan) A Naniwa class cruiser, she was torpedoed and sunk on 17 October 1914 with the loss of 271 officers and men.
  • Yashima (Japan) - A Japanese battleship that hit a mine on 15 May 1904 and sunk under tow with nearly 200 of its crew.

World War II

  • MV Wilhelm Gustloff (Germany) - The German KdF flagship, constructed by the Blohm & Voss shipyard, sank after being hit by three torpedoes fired by the Soviet submarine S-13 on 30 January 1945, with the loss of over 9,000 lives. Most of them were German refugees – the greatest loss of life in maritime history.
  • Goya (Germany) - The German transport ship Goya was torpedoed and sunk by a Soviet submarine on 16 April 1945. An estimated 7,000-8,000 civilians and German troops died, 183 were rescued.
  • Junyō Maru (Japan) - She was a "Hell ship" sunk by the Royal Navy in September 1944, 5,620 Dutch POWs and Javanese slave labourers died.
  • SS Thielbek - sunk by British planes on 3 May 1945 with the loss of 2,750 lives.
  • Montevideo Maru (Japan) - On 22 June 1942, after the fall of Rabaul, Papua New Guinea the Japanese ordered 845 Australian POWs (prisoners of war) and 208 civilian internees to board the unmarked Japanese ship, Montevideo Maru, for transport to Japan. On 1 July, the US submarine USS Sturgeon attacked and sank the ship near the northern Philippine coast. Of the ship's total complement of about 1,140 (including 88 crew), there were reportedly only 18 survivors (all crewmen).
  • RMS Nova Scotia (28 November 1942) - sunk near South Africa by a (German submarine U-177), she was carrying 1,000 people, there were only 192 survivors.
  • SS Indigirka (Soviet Union) - the Gulag ship was transporting released scientists to help in the war effort when she sank in a blizzard off the Japanese coast on 13 December 1939, with the loss of 741 lives.

Wartime sinkings of passenger ships, troopships or POW-ships

This section lists ships that were current or former passenger ships at the time of their sinking.

During World War I

  • RMS Lusitania (Great Britain) - The Lusitania, designated an Armed Merchant Cruiser for the Royal Navy was torpedoed by the German submarine U-20 on 7 May 1915. The ship sank in just 18 minutes 8 mi (13 km) off the Old Head of Kinsale, Ireland killing 1,198 of the people aboard.
  • HMT Royal Edward (Great Britain) - Royal Edward was a passengership used to transport troops. It was sunk 13 August 1915 by a submarine with the loss of 935 lives.
  • SS Persia (Great Britain) - The Persia was torpedoed and sunk without warning off Crete on 30 December 1915 by German World War I U-Boat ace Max Valentiner (commanding U-38). The Persia sank in five to ten minutes, killing 343 of the 519 aboard.
  • Provence II (France) - The French auxiliary cruiser was torpedoed in the Mediterranean Sea on 26 February 1916. An ocean liner in peace-time, the La Provence was refitted for troop transport during World War I. She was transporting troops from France to Salonika when she was sunk by the German submarine U-35 south of Cape Matapan. Nearly a thousand French soldiers and sailors died in the sinking.[31]
  • SS Ancona (Italy) - An Italian passenger steamer which was sunk on the 8 November 1915 by the German U-Boat U 38, causing an diplomatic crisis. About 200 persons perished.
  • HMHS Britannic (Great Britain) - After conversion into a hospital ship, the Britannic was either stuck by a mine or torpedoed on 21 November 1916 off the coast of Greece with the loss of 30 people in a lifeboat were killed during an attempt to escape the ship in a lifeboat without the captain's knowledge. It was sucked into the still moving propellers of the ship and destroyed.
  • SS Laurentic (Great Britain) - The Laurentic struck two mines off Lough Swilly in the north of Ireland on 25 January 1917 and sank within an hour. 354 aboard were killed in the disaster, 121 survived.
  • SS Mendi (Great Britain) - On 21 February 1917, the Mendi was transporting members of the 5th Battalion, South African Native Labour Corps, to France. At 5:00am, while under the escort of the destroyer HMS Brisk, the Mendi was struck and cut almost in half by the SS Darro. Of the 823 on board, 646 died.
The 90th anniversary of the sinking of RMS Leinster commemorated in 2008 in Dún Laoghaire
  • SS Cameronia (Great Britain) - The Cameronia was torpedoed on 15 April 1917 by the German submarine U-33 while en route from Marseille in France to Alexandria in Egypt. She was serving as a troopship at the time and contained approximately 2,650 soldiers. The ship sank in 40 minutes, 150 mi (240 km) east of Malta, taking 210 lives.
  • SS Transylvania (Great Britain) - The Transylvania was torpedoed and sunk in the Gulf of Genoa on 4 May 1917 by the German U-boat U-63. At the time of her sinking she was carrying Allied troops to Egypt; she sank with the loss of 412 lives.
  • HMHS Llandovery Castle (Canada) - On 27 June 1918, the Canadian hospital ship HMHS Llandovery Castle was torpedoed off southern Ireland by U-86. When the Llandovery Castles crew took to the lifeboats, U-86 surfaced, ran down all the lifeboats except one and shot at the people in the water. Only the 24 people in the remaining lifeboat survived. They were rescued shortly afterwards and testified to what had happened. In total, 234 were killed.
  • RMS Leinster (United Kingdom) - The Leinster was torpedoed and sunk by the German submarine UB-123 on 10 October 1918, while bound for Holyhead. Over 500 people perished in the sinking — the greatest single loss of life in the Irish Sea.

During World War II

  • SS Athenia (Great Britain) - On 3 September 1939, just hours after Britain declared war on Germany, U-boat U-30 sank Athenia mistaking her for an armed merchant cruiser. Of the 1,103 civilians the passenger liner was carrying, 118 passengers and crew were killed.
  • HMS Rawalpindi (Great Britain) - While on patrol, the Rawalpindi encountered two German warships and was sunk on 23 November 1939. Out of a crew of 276, 238 men died.
  • SS Nerissa (Canada) - The Nerissa was a passenger and cargo steamer which was torpedoed and sunk on 30 April 1940 by the German submarine U-552. She was the only transport carrying Canadian troops to be lost during World War II with 207 people, soldiers and civilians, being lost.
RMS Lancastria sunk on 17 June 1940
  • RMS Lancastria - sunk by German aircraft in June 1940, with an estimated 4,000 deaths (2,477 survived and 1,738 known dead).
The Arandora Star, which was sunk in 1940
  • Arandora Star (Great Britain) - On 2 July 1940, the Arandora Star, which was being used to transport German and Italian POWs and internees, was sunk by U-47 commanded by U-Boat ace Günther Prien. Of the 1,673 aboard, over 800 people were killed.
  • SS City of Benares (Great Britain) - The City of Benares was sunk by U-48 on 17 September 1940. Out of 407 people, 260 were lost, including 77 children of the Children's Overseas Reception Board (CORB) program. The loss of the ship caused the CORB program to be cancelled immediately.
  • Patria (France) - An ocean liner carrying around 1,770 Jewish refugees from Europe and 134 other passengers, sunk by a bomb just outside the port of Haifa on 25 November 1940, while en-route to Mauritius. The refugees on board had been transferred to the ship at Haifa (in British-Mandate Palestine) after being denied entry to the country. The bomb, planted there by members of the Jewish Haganah in the hope of disabling the ship, ended up sinking the vessel instead. 260 were lost (209 bodies recovered), 172 injured. The surviving refugees were allowed to remain in Palestine.
  • Refah (Turkey) - A cargo steamer carrying 171 Turkish military personnel (150 seamen and 21 airmen) and 28 crew from Mersin to Egypt was sunk on June 23, 1941 by a torpedo fired by a Vichy France submarine. The vessel belonging to neutral Turkey was mistook for a vessel of Free France. Only 32 people survived the disaster.
  • Armenia - (Soviet Union) A hospital ship that was sunk on 7 November 1941 by German torpedo-carrying He 111 aircraft. The ship was evacuating refugees, wounded military personnel and staff from several of the Crimea’s hospitals. An estimated 7,000 people died in the sinking, 2,000 of whom are believed to have been unregistered passengers. Only eight survivors were picked up by an escort vessel.
  • Iosif Stalin (Soviet Union) - On 3 December 1941, struck three mines with 5,589 people aboard near Hanko in the Baltic Sea. While the crew tried to repair the ship, Finnish coastal artillery opened fire and the Iosif Stalin took a hit aft from a 12 in (300 mm) shell, which caused a large explosion in the ammunition storage. Only 1,740 men were rescued from the sinking ship by the escorting minesweepers, (Nos. 205, 211, 215 and 217) and a further five patrol boats from the convoy escort.
  • RMS Lady Hawkins (Canada) - On 19 January 1942, the Lady Hawkins was torpedoed and sunk by U-66 130 mi (210 km) off the North Carolina coast. An estimated 251 people were killed in the sinking.[32]
  • Struma (Romania) - On 23 February 1942, with its engine inoperable, the Struma, while carrying Jews attempting to escape the Holocaust and sail to Palestine, was towed from Istanbul through the Bosporus and into the Black Sea by the Turkish authorities with its refugee passengers still aboard, where it was left adrift. Within hours, she was torpedoed and sunk by the Soviet submarine Shch 213 (on 24 February). There was only one survivor; 768 men, women and children died.
RMS Laconia was sunk on 12 September 1942
  • RMS Laconia (Great Britain) - On 12 September 1942, 130 mi (210 km) north-northeast of Ascension Island, the Laconia was hit and sunk by a torpedo fired by U-156. The U-boat commander realized that Italian prisoners were among of the ship's passengers and ordered an ill-fated rescue effort in what came to be called the Laconia Incident. This episode also led to Germany's 'Laconia Order' regarding assistance to the survivors of sinking ships. In all an estimated 1,649 persons died.
  • SS Caribou (Canada) - A passenger ferry, torpedoed by the German submarine U-69, sank in the Cabot Straits during the night of 14 October 1942. Losses: 46 sailors and 206 civilian and military passengers.
A propaganda poster calling for Australians to avenge the sinking of AHS Centaur
  • MS Palatia was sunk on 21 October 1942 by a Royal New Zealand Air Force torpedo bomber, while carrying Sovjet prisoners of war. In total, 986 people have later reported killed.
  • AHS Centaur (Australia) - A hospital ship attacked and sunk by a Japanese submarine on 16 May 1943 off Queensland, Australia. Of the 332 medical personnel and crew aboard, 268 died. It was not until 1979 that the attacking submarine, I-177, was identified.
  • Gaetano Donizetti (Italy) - sunk by the destroyer HMS Eclipse on 23 September 1943, carrying some 1,800 Italian POW's captured by the Germans in Rhodes. No survivors.
  • Mario Roselli (Italy) - sunk in Corfu Bay by an allied bomber on 10 October 1943, killing 1,302 Italian POW's.
  • HMT Rohna - sunk by the Germans in November 1943. An estimated 1,138 deaths, 1,015 of them Americans, this still constitutes the largest loss of US soldiers at sea.
  • SS Petrella - torpedoed by the submarine HMS Sportsman, while transporting 3,173 Italian POW's from Crete to the mainland. 2,670 men drowned.
  • SS Oria (Norway) - On the night of 12 February 1944, while carrying under Germany's flag, 4,096 Italian POWs (after Italy left the Axis), from the Dodecanesse Islands to Athens, Oria entered a thunderstorm some 50 mi (80 km) from her intended destination, Pireaus harbor. The ship cracked and sank; 4,025 Italians, 44 German soldiers (guards) and five crew, an estimated total of 4,074 souls, died in the accident. Only 28 people (combined) were saved.
  • Mefkure (Romania) - Mefkure was a motor schooner chartered to carry Jewish Holocaust refugees from Romania to Palestine, sailing under the Turkish and Red Cross flags. On 5 August 1944, while crossing the Black Sea, she was torpedoed by the Soviet submarine SC 215 and sunk, killing 305 people. 11 survived {five passengers and six crew}.[33]
  • Tsushima Maru (Japan) - The Tsushima Maru was torpedoed and sunk by the American submarine USS Bowfin on 22 August 1944. The sinking claimed the lives of 1,484 civilians including 767 schoolchildren.
  • Hansa (Sweden) - On 24 November 1944, she was torpedoed and sunk between Nynäshamn and Visby by a Soviet submarine. The ship sank within a few minutes, leaving 84 people dead; two survived.
  • SS Leopoldville (Belgium) - Sunk by a torpedo on 24 December 1944 in the English Channel. Of the 2,235 American servicemen on board, approximately 515 are presumed to have gone down with the ship. Another 248 died from injuries, drowning or hypothermia.
  • Awa Maru (Japan) - On 1 April 1945, the Awa Maru was intercepted and sunk in the Taiwan Strait by the American submarine USS Queenfish which mistook her for a destroyer. Only one person of the 2,003 aboard survived.
Wilhelm Gustloff in Danzig harbor
  • Wilhelm Gustloff (Germany) - On 30 January 1945 while evacuating civilian refugees, German soldiers and U-boat personnel, the Gustloff was sunk by a Russian submarine in the Baltic Sea. 5,348 are known dead but it has been estimated that up to 9,400 died as a result of this disaster.
  • SS General von Steuben (Germany) - The Steuben was torpedoed and sunk on 10 February 1945 by a Soviet submarine. An estimated 3,400 died out of the 4,267 people aboard.
Cap Arcona burning shortly after the attack in May, 1945
  • SS Cap Arcona (Germany) - On 3 May 1945 the prison ship Cap Arcona was attacked by the British Royal Air Force (RAF). The ship caught fire and capsized, leaving an estimated 5,000 dead.
  • SS Thielbek (Germany) - On 3 May 1945 the prison ship Thielbek was attacked by the RAF. The ship caught fire and capsized, leaving an estimated 2,800 dead.
  • Ukishima Maru (Japan) - Exploded and sank on 22 August 1945, on entering the port of Maizuru, killing 549 people, mainly Koreans.

Warships sunk

In some cases more than one ship was lost, but they are classed as one disaster. An example of this is the Battle of Midway where four Japanese aircraft carriers were sunk. Entries are shown in descending order of lives lost.

During World War I

HMS Queen Mary
Takachiho on a 1905 postcard
  • HMS Queen Mary (Great Britain) - a battlecruiser which exploded and sank during the Battle of Jutland on 31 May 1916, with the loss of 1,245 men.
  • HMS Invincible (Great Britain) - a British battlecruiser which exploded and sunk during the Battle of Jutland on 31 May 1916; 1,026 men were lost, there were six survivors.
  • HMS Indefatigable (Great Britain) - Battlecruiser, she sank during the Battle of Jutland on 31 May 1916, with the loss of 1,015 men, there were only two survivors.
  • HMS Defence (Great Britain) - Armoured Cruiser, exploded during the Battle of Jutland on 31 May 1916, 903 men were lost, there were no survivors
  • HMS Good Hope (Great Britain) - She was sunk on 1 November 1914 off the Chilean coast along with HMS Monmouth in the Battle of Coronel by the German armoured cruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau (Germany) - The entire complement of 900 hands were lost.
  • HMS Black Prince (Great Britain) - Armoured Cruiser, was sunk during the Battle of Jutland on 31 May 1916, with the loss of 857 men, the entire crew.
  • SMS Pommern (Germany) - Pre Dreadnought, she was torpedoed by Battle of the Falkland Islands by the British battlecruiser HMS Inflexible (1907), taking all 860 occupants on board, including Admiral Maximilian von Spee.
  • SMS Gneisenau (Germany) - A sister ship of SMS Scharnhorst, she was sunk during the same battle where her sister went down, by British cruisers, taking 596 men with her.
  • HMS Monmouth (Great Britain) - Sunk on 1 November 1914 off the Chilean coast along with HMS Good Hope in the Battle of Coronel. There were no survivors of the ship's complement of 678.
  • Prinz Adalbert (Germany) - On 2 July 1915, the British submarine Gotland Island. On 23 October 1915, Libau. The magazine exploded and the ship sank with the loss of 672 crew. There were only three survivors.
  • Suffren (France) - The Suffren was returning to Lorient for a refit when on 26 November 1916, off the Portuguese coast near Lisbon, she was torpedoed by U-52. The torpedo detonated a magazine and Suffren sank within seconds, taking the crew of 648 with her.
  • Bouvet (France) - Sunk by a mine in the Dardanelles Campaign on 18 March 1915. The Bouvet capsized and sank within two minutes, taking over 600 crew with her.
  • Pallada (Russia) - On 11 October 1914, the Pallada was torpedoed by the German submarine U-26. The exploding torpedo set off the ship's ammunition and within a few minutes the cruiser disappeared along with the entire crew of 597. The Pallada was the first Russian warship sunk during World War I.
  • HMS Goliath (Great Britain) - On the night of 12–13 May 1915, Goliath was anchored in Morto Bay off Cape Helles when she was torpedoed. Goliath began to capsize almost immediately, she rolled over and began to sink by the bow, taking 570 of the 700-strong crew to the bottom.
  • HMS Formidable (Great Britain) - On 1 January 1915, the Formidable was torpedoed by the German U-boat U-24, she capsized and sank in the English Channel. The loss of life was 35 officers and 512 men out of a total complement of 780.
  • Action of 22 September 1914
  • SMS Cöln (Germany) SMS Cöln was a light cruiser. It sunk during the Battle of Heligoland Bight, 28 August 1914 with the loss of 485 lives.
  • HMS Otranto (Great Britain), was a rebuilt ocean streamer which worked as a troopship. On the 5 August 1914 it collided with another liner turned troopship, in poor visibility in the rough seas. The stricken ship then hit rocks and became grounded. With the heavy seas pounding her continually against the rocks the ship eventually broke up and sank with the loss of 431 lives
  • SMS Yorck (Germany) - was a German cruiser which accidentally 4 November 1914 went into an German minefield and sank with the loss of several hundred lives.
  • HMS Hampshire (Great Britain)
  • HMS Hawke (Great Britain)
  • HMS Natal (Great Britain)
  • Takachiho (Japan) - The Takachiho was struck by three torpedoes launched by an Imperial German Navy S90 torpedo boat on 14 October 1914 during the Battle of Tsingtao. It sank with the loss of 271 men
  • SMS Leipzig (Germany) was a light cruiser which was sunk in action at the Battle of the Falkland Islands, 8 December 1914 with the loss of 268 men.
  • Heireddin Barbarossa (Ottoman Empire) - The Heireddin Barbarossa was sunk on 8 August 1915 in the Dardanelles by the British submarine E 11 with the loss of 253 men.
  • USS Cyclops (United States) - The loss of the ship and 306 crew and passengers without a trace sometime after 4 March 1918 remains the single largest loss of life in US Naval history not directly involving combat. The ship's fate is still a mystery that remains unsolved to this day. No wreckage of the vessel was ever found.
  • HMS Irresistible (Great Britain) - Sank after striking a mine while engaged in battle in the Dardanelles on 18 March 1915. The Irresistible lost 150 crew members in the sinking.
  • HMS Amphion (Great Britain) - The first British loss in WWI, striking a mine while chasing a minelayer. 150 lives were lost.
  • RMS Moldavia

During the Spanish Civil War

  • Almrante Ferrándiz - sunk by Spanish cruiser Canarias on 29 September 1936; 130 killed.
  • Baleares - sunk by the Lepanto on 6 March 1938. 765 seamen died.
  • SS Castillo de Olite - sunk by costal artillery on 7 March 1939 near Cartagena Harbor; 1,476 killed.

During World War II

Please add the loss of HMTS "Lancastria" on the 17th June 1940 in the Loire estuary with the loss of at least 4000 lives. Still subject of a D notice. Britains largest maritime disaster ever.

HMAS Sydney with her 645 crew
  • Yamato (Japan) - The largest battleship ever constructed, Yamato was sunk on 7 April 1945 by torpedo planes from the aircraft carrier USS Hornet and others. Only 280 of the Yamato's 2,778-man crew were rescued. This was the greatest loss of life in a single warship in World War II.
  • Bismarck (Germany) - After being hunted by British forces following the sinking of HMS Hood, the Bismarck was herself sunk three days later on 27 May 1941. Of the 2,200 crewmen aboard, 1,995 sailors lost their lives.
  • Scharnhorst (Germany) - Lost in the Battle of North Cape on 26 December 1943, being outgunned by HMS Duke of York, and later finished off by British destroyers. Of the 1,968 crewmen, 36 survived.
  • HMS Glorious (Great Britain) - The aircraft carrier, with escorting destroyers HMS Ardent and HMS Acasta were sunk by the German battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau off Norway, 8 June 1940; 1,519 men were lost.
  • HMS Hood (Great Britain) - The battlecruiser HMS Hood was attacked and sunk by the German battleship Bismarck on 24 May 1941. Of the 1,418 crewmen aboard, only three survived.
  • Fuso (Japan) - On 25 October 1944 as a result of torpedoes launched by USS Melvin in the Battle of Surigao Strait, causing the loss of possibly all of her crew of 1,400.
  • Yamashiro (Japan) - A sister ship of the Fuso, she was also sunk in the Battle of Surigao Strait, with only around 10 survivors out of 1,400.
  • Shinano (Japan) - Meant to be the third Yamato-class battleship, but completed as an aircraft carrier instead, she was sunk on November 29, 1944 by the U.S. Navy submarine USS Archer-Fish with the loss of 1,400 of her crew and shipbuilding workers, as she had not yet been completely outfitted for duty, and had only been commissioned ten days before her sinking. The Shinano is the largest-ever warship ever sunk solely by a submarine in naval warfare history.
  • Kongō (Japan) - Sunk with torpedoes by the submarine USS Sealion II on the 21 Nov 1944 in the Formosa Strait with the loss of 1,200 of her crew.
  • USS Indianapolis (United States) - The heavy cruiser Indianapolis was sunk by a Japanese submarine on 30 June 1945 while sailing to the Philippines from Guam, after delivering components for the "Little Boy" Hiroshima atomic bomb. Of the 1,196 sailors, 300 died on board and 317 were rescued. The others died from exposure and shark attacks, (reported to be the largest number in history). The survivors were floating, some just in life jackets, for four days before being rescued.
  • USS Arizona (United States) - While docked in Pearl Harbor, the battleship was attacked by Japanese torpedo and dive bombers on 7 December 1941. 1,177 crewmen were lost out of a complement of 1,400. The wreck continues to lie on the bottom of the harbor as a memorial to all those who perished on that day.
  • Musashi (Japan) - Sister ship of Yamato, sunk by US aircraft on 24 October 1944 during the Battle of Leyte Gulf, with a loss of 1,023 of her crew of 2,399.
  • Tirpitz (Germany) - Tirpitz was attacked by RAF Lancaster bombers from 9 and 617 Squadrons armed with 'Tallboy' bombs on 12 November 1944. The battleship sank west of Tromsø, Norway, with the loss of 1,000 of her crew of 1,700.
  • Bretagne (France) - The super-dreadnought battleship and pride of the French navy, exploded and sank on 3 July 1940 in the Battle of Mers-el-Kébir as a result of gunfire from the British warships Hood, Valiant, and Resolution; 977 men were killed.
  • HMS Barham (Great Britain) - On 25 November 1941, in the eastern Mediterranian north of Sidi Barrani, Barham capsized, exploded and sank two and a half minutes after being hit by three torpedoes fired by the German submarine U-331. 861 lost their lives. There were 450 survivors.[34] The sinking was filmed.[35]
  • Zuikaku (Japan) - Aircraft carrier, sunk on 24 October 1944 during the Battle off Cape Engaño, with a loss of 842 lives out of 1,704.
  • HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse (Great Britain) - On 10 December 1941, three days after Pearl Harbor, the two capital ships were sent to intercept Japanese landings in Malaya, but were sunk by Japanese aircraft based in Saigon. 840 sailors were lost, 513 on the battlecruiser Repulse and 327 on the battleship Prince of Wales. Winston Churchill said when he heard about the sinkings: "In all the war, I never received a more direct shock...".
  • HMS Neptune (Great Britain) - light cruiser mined and sunk off Tripoli on the night of 19–20 December 1941, with the loss of all but one of her crew of 767 men; an additional 73 men died in the sinking of HMS Kandahar mined while attempting to assist.
  • HMS Royal Oak (Great Britain) - During one of the earliest successes enjoyed by the German Navy in World War II, the veteran battleship HMS Royal Oak was torpedoed and sunk while anchored at the Royal Navy base at Scapa Flow in the Orkney Islands, on the morning of 14 October 1939, with the loss of 833 lives, by U-47 commanded by Lieutenant Commander Günther Prien.
  • Blücher (Germany) - Sunk by Norwegian shore defences at the Battle of Drøbak Sound on 9 April 1940, killing 830 of 2,202 troops and crewmen on board.
  • Kaga (Japan) - Aircraft carrier, sunk on 4 June 1942 during the Battle of Midway, with the loss of 811 lives out of 1,708.
  • Chiyoda (Japan) - sunk with her entire crew of around 800 in 1944, possibly the largest vessel to be lost with all hands in World War II, since there is uncertainty about whether there were survivors from Fuso (see above).
  • HMS Gloucester (Great Britain) - On 22 May 1941, Gloucester was attacked by German Stuka dive bombers and sunk during the Battle of Crete with the loss of 722 men out of a crew of 807.
  • Sōryū (Japan) - Aircraft carrier, sunk on 4 June 1942 during the Battle of Midway, with a loss of 711 lives from a complement of 1,103.
  • USS Juneau (United States) - Sunk at the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal in November 1942. Juneau's 100+ survivors (out of a total complement of 697) were left on their own in the open ocean for eight days, before rescue aircraft belatedly arrived and found only 10 survivors.
  • Mikuma (Japan) - Heavy cruiser, sunk on 5 June 1942 during the Battle of Midway, with the loss of 650 of her crew.
  • HMAS Sydney (Australia) - The light cruiser was sunk by the German ship Kormoran on 19 November 1941 with the loss of all 645 sailors on board, making it the largest allied vessel to be lost with all hands during World War II.
The survivors of Z27, T25 and T26 interned in the Curragh Camp, Ireland, in 1944
  • Z27, T25 and T26 (Germany) - In the Bay of Biscay, on 28 December 1943, Z27, a Kriegsmarine destroyer and two torpedo boats, T25 and T26 were waiting to escort Alsterufer, a blockade runner which had come from Japan. The Royal Navy knew the German positions and had already sunk the Alsterufer. The cruisers HMS Glasgow and HMS Enterprise shelled and sank Z27, T25, and T26 from over the horizon. In one of the most extraordinary rescues of the war, the 142 ft (43 m) neutral Irish coaster MV Kerlogue rescued 168 survivors from the three ships' 700 crew.
  • HMS Courageous (Great Britain) - The aircraft carrier Courageous was torpedoed on 17 September 1939. She capsized and sank in 15 minutes, with the loss of 518 of her crew.
  • Yahagi (Japan) - On 7 April 1945, the cruiser Yahagi was badly damaged, capzised and sank after being attacked by aircraft from United States Task Force 58. Of her crew of 736 on board, 445 were killed.
  • HMS Dunedin (Great Britain) - On 24 November 1941, HMS Dunedin was in the Central Atlantic northeast of Recife, Brazil when she was sunk by two torpedoes from the German submarine U-124. Only four officers and 63 men survived out of a crew of 486.
  • HMS Dasher (Great Britain) - Royal Navy escort aircraft carrier which sank in 1943 after an internal explosion, killing 379 out of a crew of 528.
  • HNLMS De Ruyter (Netherlands) - On 27 February 1942, HNLMS De Ruyter along with HNLMS Java and other allied cruisers and destroyers led a sortie against Japanese warships in an attempt to stop the Japanese invasion fleet in the battle of Java Sea. 345 of their crews lost their lives.
  • Ilmarinen (Finland) - On 13 September 1941, mines became entangled in the Ilmarinen's paravane cable. When the vessel turned, the mines hit the ship and detonated, sinking her in seven minutes. Only 132 of the crewmen survived, 271 were lost.

During the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971

  • INS Khukri (India) - On 9 December 1971 the Indian frigate INS Khukri was torpedoed and sank by the Pakistani submarine PNS Hangor with the loss of 194 lives. This was the first submarine kill since WWII.

During the Falklands War

ARA General Belgrano
  • ARA General Belgrano (Argentina) - On 2 May 1982 the Argentinian light cruiser ARA General Belgrano was torpedoed and sank by British submarine HMS Conqueror with the loss of 323 lives. This was the first time a warship had been sunk by a nuclear submarine.
  • HMS Sheffield - On 4 May 1982 the British guided missile destroyer HMS Sheffield was struck by an Argentinian Exocet missile. The ship sank with a loss of 20 lives.

See also


  1. ^ "Maritime disasters of the 20th and 21st centuries". CNN. 2006-02-06. Retrieved 2008-12-14. 
  2. ^ The World Almanac and Book of Facts 2008: 140th Anniversary Edition. United States: World Almanac Education Group Inc.. 2008. pp. 301. ISBN 1-60057-072-0. 
  3. ^ CBC - Halifax Explosion 1917
  4. ^ Jay White, "Exploding Myths: The Halifax Explosion in Historical Context", Ground Zero: A Reassessment of the 1917 explosion in Halifax Alan Ruffman and Colin D. Howell editors, Nimbus Publishing (1994), p. 266
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ "SUMMARY OF PASSENGERS AND SURVIVORS". Retrieved 2009-07-06 
  8. ^ "28- Time for Reflection and Reform — after the Wreck of the Titanic". Retrieved 2009-07-06 
  9. ^ biography of Cloudesley Shovell, retrieved 2010-01-08.
  10. ^ Sir Clowdisley Shovell and The Association, by Peter Mitchell, on 4 July, 2007
  11. ^
  12. ^ "Egypt ferry probe raps officials". BBC News. 19 April 2006. Retrieved 8 May 2010. 
  13. ^ Kleinfeld, N. R. (2007-09-02). "A Debate Rises: How Much 9/11 Tribute Is Enough?". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-09-02 
  14. ^
  15. ^ "La Bourgogne". Shipwrecks of Nova Scotia. Retrieved 9 December 2008. 
  16. ^ West, Jenny (1973). The Windmills of Kent. London: Charles Skilton Ltd.. pp. 51. ISBN 0705000656. SBN 284-98534-1. 
  17. ^ "APPALLING SHIPWRECK OF THE NEW ERA". The Monthly Nautical Magazine, and Quarterly Review. Vol. I. pp 223-224.. [April to September, 1855]. Retrieved 8 December 2008. 
  18. ^ "The Powhatan Tragedy". Retrieved 8 December 2008. 
  19. ^ "Vessel Profile". Shipwreck Central. Retrieved 22 November 2008. 
  20. ^ Egidius, Nanna; Trond Austheim & Børge Solem (April 2001). "Disaster on Lake Erie in 1852". Great Disasters Main Page. Norway-Heritage (hands across the sea). Retrieved 22 November 2008. 
  21. ^ "Block Island, Rhode Island Larchmont Disaster February 1907". The Washington Post. 14 February 1907. Retrieved 8 December 2008. 
  22. ^ Some sources say 172, William Wood (1915). Chronicles of Canada: Part IX National Highways All Afloat - A Chronicle of Craft and Waterways. Toronto: Glasgow, Brook & Company. 
  23. ^ "HMS Ontario (Post-Revoluntary War Great Lakes British Brig-Sloop of War)". Doran Bay Ships. Retrieved 15 June 2008. 
  24. ^ Means, Dennis R. (1987). "A Heavy Sea Running: The Formation of the U.S. Life-Saving Service, 1846–1878". United States Lifesaving Service. Retrieved 8 December 2008. 
  25. ^ a b Frame, Tom (2005). The Cruel Legacy: the HMAS Voyager tragedy. Crows Nest, NSW: Allen & Unwin. pp. 1–15. ISBN 1741152542. OCLC 61213421. 
  26. ^ Bourke, Edward. Shipwrecks of the Irish Coast. 1. p. 213. ISBN 0952302705. 
  27. ^ a b c Frame, Tom (1992). Pacific Partners: a history of Australian-American naval relations. Rydalmere, NSW: Hodder & Stoughton. pp. 126–8. ISBN 034056685X. OCLC 27433673. 
  28. ^ Schreck, Adam (July 1, 2009). "Up to 30 feared dead after ship capsizes off Qatar capital Doha in rough Persian Gulf waters". Associated Press. Washington Examiner. Retrieved 2009-07-02. 
  29. ^ [1]
  30. ^ [2]
  31. ^ Paul G. Halpern, A Naval History of World War I (Routledge, 1994), p386
  32. ^ "Aviation Machinists Mate 1/c Donald F. Mason "Sighted Sub - Sank Same"". Footnotes in History From the Last Week of January 1942. Retrieved 8 December 2008. 
  33. ^ [3]
  34. ^ Diary of the Sinking HMS Barham Association Website
  35. ^ HMS Barham, British Pathe Newsreel at YouTube

External links

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