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Top 10 Shipwrecks Frozen in Time

Thousands of people have become victims of horrendous shipwrecks with their stories resting deep down the water on the ocean surface. Those who have survived these disasters were left in nothing but destitute. The oceans have witnessed nearly three million such disasters till date. Studied carefully many of these shipwrecks have revealed important information of historical events and this is one of the reasons that they have captivated the minds of maritime archaeologists for a long time. These alluring shipwrecks that none wish to witness are remains of a deadly disaster where thousands of people were either burnt to death in the mid oceans or engulfed by the ruthless water tides. Here is a list of top 10 shipwrecks frozen in time:

10. MV Wilhelm Gustloff (1945)

The wreck resulted in the highest number of casualties recorded in the history of shipwrecks with around 9000 people losing their lives. There were about 1,230 people who survived the calamity. The ship was vacating civilians, military personnel and Nazi officials who were encircled in East Prussia by the red army. The ship was hit by three torpedoes in Baltic Sea; the one that hit her on the right side (starboard) caused it to drown in less than 45 minutes. The victims were left in the ice-cold, freezing water of Baltic. Many tried to desperately grapple the life boats but only a few were able to do so in the stampede that followed. Few hours after the wreck dead bodies were seen floating on the water with corpses of young children in over sized life jackets often floating upside down. One of the miracle survivors of the wreck was an infant who was discovered by the officer who came with a small patrol boat, some seven hours after the sinking of the ship.

9. The Sweepstakes Shipwreck (1885)

Lake Huron, Superior, Michigan, Erie and Ontario are the five great lakes of the world. They have been used for sailing since 17th century and have said to have witnessed many shipwrecks since then. One of the most popular sunken ships is the ‘Sweetstake’ which is 50 yards from the TubHarbor and despite of lying about 20 feet underwater is still visible and completely intact even today. The Sweepstakes was built in BurlingtonOntario in 1867, she was towed to the BigTubHarbor in September 1885 to be repaired, where she sunk and lies till date.

8. SS Eastland (1915)

On 24th July 1915 the SS Eastland, which was tied to a dock in Chicago River rolled over due to an absurdly unsafe structure and being overloaded with 2000 passengers. The Eastland was to take its passengers to a picnic in Michigan City, Indiana. The reasons for the ship going topsy-turvy are believed to be its absurdly unsafe structure and the fact that it was overloaded with 2000 passengers. The passenger who were in the top deck were thrown over in the river while the ones trapped in lower compartments died either by drowning or being crushed by heavy furniture such as refrigerator, pianos etc. The disaster was the most deleterious calamity that occurred in the USA during 20th century.

7. Umbria, the Red Sea (1911)

The Umbria Shipwreck is one of the finest shipwrecks found in history and is often described by divers as ‘the best shipwreck in the world’, this is because the Umbria is still found to be almost in its original condition. The Umbria was introduced as a cruise ship in December 1911 and was eventually purchased by Italy for ferry troops to East African colonies. It was found by the British troops during the Second World War, full of arms and explosives. But as Italy had not declared war at this time the ship couldn’t be captured. With Italy’s declaration of war the ship’s captain destroyed the ship with 360,000 bombs on board.

6. MS Estonia (1994)

MS Estonia was sixteen years old when it drowned in the Baltic Sea in 1994. The cruise set out for Stockholm, Sweden from Tallin, Estonia. Due to the ship’s doors not being closed properly the water started entering the ship from the time it set out on the seabed. Power failure prevented crew from making broadcasts for help resulting in 852 people including crew members losing their lives. It is alleged that the ship was designed for coastal waters rather than Baltic Sea. The Shipyard in Germany that had built the ship claimed that the sinking was due to poor maintenance. A treaty was signed that declared the site as official burial ground.

5. General Slocum Paddle Steamer (1904)

The ship was built in 1891 and was carrying 1358 passengers along with the crew at the time when caught IN fire and burnt down on East river of New York City, in June 1904. The Victims of the disaster were either burned to death or drowned in the sea. There were however 321 people who survived the disaster. The dead bodies of victims were found floating on the shore even days after the disaster. It is alleged that the life vests and life boats were dilapidated and the crew was not efficient enough to manage the panic resulting in greater number of deaths. It was the New York’ worst calamity until 9/11.

4. USS Indianapolis (CA-35) (1945)

This shipwreck is termed as the greatest loss of life in the history of US navy. The vessel, which was constructed in Campden, New Jersey, was abolished by a Japanese Navy Submarine I-58 on 15th July 1945, shortly after delivering important parts of the first atomic bomb. The Vessel sank in about 12 minutes, taking with it 300 lives down into the water. There were about 1,196 crewmen on board at the time. The Navy learned about the sinking of the ship four days later, during this time many men faced dehydration, exposure and shark attacks that began with dawn. There were only 317 sailors who survived the wreck.

3. RMS Titanic (1912)

The most famous shipwreck of the history, which almost everyone knows about, is RMS Titanic that sunk on 14th April 1912 taking with it 1,517 lives down the freezing cold water of Atlantic Ocean. The ship was termed as the ‘unsinkable’ by its owner. It was the second largest ship built by Star Line and it took around three years to build the exceptionally luxurious vessel. The ship set off from Belfast on 10th April hitting an iceberg on 14th in the Mid Atlantic it drowned in two hours and forty minutes. It is known as one of the worst sea disasters in the history of mankind. After the sinking of the great ship, safety regulations regarding ships were increased drastically.

2. SS Kiangya (1948)

The Chinese steamship that was carrying about 5000 passengers, most of whom were refugees of the Chinese civil war, exploded by striking a mine (believed to be left behind by imperial Japanese Navy) and sank in The Huangpu River near Shanghai on 4th December 1948. The exact numbers of casualties are still not known. It is however estimated that about 3900 people lost their lives in the wreck. There were many survivors, around 700-900, who were rescued from the sea. The ship had 2,150 people on board while the official carrying capacity of the ship was 1,186 thus making it overloaded.

1. RMS Empress of Ireland (1914)

It was the 96th, and unfortunately the last crossing of the Empress Ireland of The Atlantic. The ship departed from Quebec City on 28th May 1914 and was carrying 1,477 passengers along with the crew members. The ship was under the command of Henry George Kendell and was heading to the pilot station at Rimouski when another ship Norwegian collier SS Storstad, that was moving in the opposite direction, collided with it. The accident resulted in the death of 1012 people. Dense fog and early morning hours are believed to be the causes of the collapse. This was termed as one of the worst shipwrecks in Canadian history and the first of our top 10 shipwrecks frozen in time list.

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