Shipwrecks Lost & Found


Robert Butler

Oh to be a pirate sailing the seven seas, or an explorer traveling across the Earth’s vast oceans, attempting to uncover its many mysteries. The secrets that lie within the confines of the world’s bodies of water have mesmerized curious adventurers for centuries and allowed for some astonishing discoveries.

Whether it be lost treasure, historical finds, or tragic tales of lost lives, there seems to be an endless number of possibilities, especially when it comes to discovering shipwrecks.

After the Endurance–a wooden ship which sank to the Antarctic floor over a century ago–was finally discovered by scientists this past month, it got the Rebellion staff thinking about what other shipwreck discoveries have a unique story to tell.

Shipwrecks provide a chance to peer into the past, and learn about humanity’s rich history. Everyone knows about the Titanic, but there are plenty of other shipwrecks that have their own intriguing tales. 

Here are a few of the most fascinating shipwrecks.

World Trade Center Shipwreck

In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, a surprising discovery was made at Ground Zero. 

In 2010, during the excavation for a new parking garage, a wooden ship was found buried 20 feet underground. Additionally, after researchers studied the remains of the ship, they found out it was from the 18th-century.

The ship is believed to have originated from Philadelphia during the Colonial times. The wood used to craft the ship was likely the same wood used to build parts of Independence Hall, which is where important documents like the Declaration of Independence were signed.

After 20 or so years on the open water traveling along the east coast, the ship was buried by debris in Manhattan, where it remained for around 200 years. 

Now, the wreckage has rightfully been put on display in the New York State Museum. 

Dokos Shipwreck 

Coming in at over 4000 years old, the Dokos shipwreck takes the cake for being the oldest shipwreck ever discovered. After it was discovered in 1975, the shipwreck was believed to have dated back to 2700-2200 B.C.

The wreckage was found off the coast of Greece near the island of Dokos. 

Although the remains of the ship were reduced to nothing, the cargo on board was found resting on the sea bed. It is believed the merchant ship was delivering a wide variety of goods, including cups, kitchenware, urns, and other pottery pieces to the many islands in the area. 

When they excavated the site in 1989 to 1992, they recovered thousands of artifacts from the wreckage. It was the first of many full-scale excavations of ancient shipwrecks in Greece.

San Jose Shipwreck

When the San Jose went down in 1708, so did billions of dollars worth of treasure: somewhere around $17 billion. 

After the Spanish galleon was shot down by a fleet of English warships, around 600 men lost their lives, and the treasure sank to the bottom of the ocean, off the Columbian coast. The “Holy Grail” of shipwrecks lay at the bottom of the ocean for over three centuries. 

The San Jose shipwreck is quite possibly the most expensive shipwreck ever with 200 tons of treasure including gold, silver, emeralds, and tons of other artifacts.

The shipwreck was discovered in 2015, but many parties have staked their claim on the wreckage including Columbia, Spain and an indigenous group from Bolivia, which has prevented the discovery from being excavated. 

The loot still lays in the ocean till this day. 

The Vasa Shipwreck

In 1628, there was not a ship quite like the Vasa. It was the most technologically advanced ship ever created when it first set sail on its maiden voyage. 

Boasting 64 bronze cannons, the warship was the prized possession of the Swedish navy, and the Swedish King, Augustus Adolphus. The heavily armored Vasa would be used to wage war against Poland-Lithuania. 

However, when the day came for the Vasa to set sail, horror ensued amongst the crew on board, and the public who watched from afar. After a measly 20 minutes, and two strong gusts of wind, the Vasa sank to the bottom of the ocean along with 30 or so crewmembers. 

Due to the top-heavy design, the Vasa was exceedingly unstable. Ultimately, the poor design skills and decision making of Adolphus led to the ship’s demise. 

The ship sank into the harbor, where it lay until it was recovered in 1916. It is now on display in Stockholm.

The MV Dona Paz Shipwreck 

On Dec. 20, 1987, roughly 4,300 passengers boarded the MV Dona Paz in an attempt to make it home for the holidays.

However, while traveling to the capital of the Philippines, tragedy struck. The passenger ferry collided with the MT Vector, an oil tanker, carrying 8,800 barrels of highly flammable oil and gasolene. 

After the collision, both ships were quickly engulfed in flames, and the passengers onboard began to panic. Left without power, and proper survival equipment, people began jumping overboard in an attempt to escape the burning ship, only to be burnt alive in the boiling waters below. 

Those who were lucky enough to survive, staved off exhaustion, and swam for nearly an 

hour before being rescued with severe burns.  Of the thousands of passengers onboard, only 26 survived. 

To date, the MV Dona Paz shipwreck  is still one of the deadliest maritime disasters ever.