The Beauty and the Mystery of the Wrecked Ships
This article will highlight the most incredible shipwrecks around the world
and maybe prompt a curious expedition or two. Go check them out while they still exist,
daily battered by the wind and merciless waves.
They were proud and beautiful once, confident in the face of anything the sea could throw at them –
and now they haunt the coastlines with their sadness and beauty (but of the different kind):
A Haunted Aircraft Carrier
Let’s start with the biggest.
The majestic USS "Oriskany" – a giant abandoned aircraft carrier –
has become a real treasure for diving adventurers and tour operators
(more images here).
Brought 22 miles off shore and sunk there in 2006, its gutted remains may
have served as a powerful inspiration for some designers in the movie and game industry.
It certainly looks like something that could loom out of the time vortex, in the mist somewhere….
Its sinking was quite a spectacular event: see the fires inside the ship’s hold
(imagine the inferno inside) –
As a literary side note, check out this story by Paul Di Filippo "Shipbreaker"
(available for reading online here). It’s a fantastic account of salvaging huge abandoned (space)ships.
The last of all gun cruisers
Here is another military ship wreck, built in Russia – Battleship "Murmansk", Sverdlov class:
"Murmansk (built 1955) – one of the last all gun cruisers. Lost in 1994 while in tow to India,
and is now aground on Sørøya, Finnmark. It still remains intact, complete with all guns,
5 decks above, water 5 below" – so, get on the diving expedition, what are you waiting for?
Most Photographed (and Beautiful) Shipwreck:
The "American Star" off Hesperides
One of the most evocative, and visually exciting – by the virtue of its location just off
the sandy coastline, and its glamorous past… Just look at the picture of "SS America"
in its heyday in 1943:
The history of the "American Star" is nicely documented on this page.
After long and lustrious career as a luxury liner, it got wrecked at Fuerteventura in 1994
and since became a total loss. This is how the ship looked right after it snapped in two:
Here is a picture set of how the wreck looked in 2000:
Sadly, it was finally claimed by the sea in 2007 – the opportunity to take
awesome pictures of this fascinating wreck is now gone.
Another interesting wreck (this time on the Queensland’s Sunshine Coast)
is Cherry Venture (more info) Perhaps it’s better to say "was" as it was also recently removed…
Get moving now, and explore these rusty behemoths before the nature, or humans, get to them!
Ships in Peril, and Ships Perishing
The following are harrowing, sometimes genuinely frightening photographs of shipwrecks-in-progress, where even the most hardened of ships and crews meet their doom – at the mercy of nature’s elements.
"Victor Karyakin" fishing vessel meets some unforgiving rocks at the Rybachi island. 12-strong crew was in deadly peril, as no other ship could come close to the same rocky shore. The crew was saved by Norvegian Coast Guard "Sea King" helicopter:
Nice t-bone collision:
Another t-bone, but on a much smaller scale:
Sinking of the "Twin Star" near Peru in 2006:
"Franz Halls" ran aground on Le Palais beach in Biarritz:
"Capetan Tzannnis" washed ashore by the storm in La Madrague Beach, Anglet:
Titanic-style sinking in Antarctic waters
Thinking about taking an Arctic or Antarctic cruise? Even in our days of
powerful icebreaker ships (see some awesome examples here) the combination of
extreme weather and unfortunate circumstances can easily become fatal.
"G.A.P Adventures" was arranging the cruises on board of the 1969-built "Explorer"
ship ($9,000 per person), when in 2007 "it struck the ice, took on water
(as 154 passengers and crew members scrambled to safety aboard lifeboats and rafts),
and then sunk to the bottom" (see video) –
And yes, just like the "Titanic" it struck an iceberg, which caused a 10 by 4 inch
(25 × 10 cm) gash in the hull. (more info). The iceberg went unnoticed because
the vessel presumably was going with the unsafe speed…
(Sinking of "Titanic", visualized by Robert Avotin in Soviet TM magazine 1971)
Pasha Bulker – a huge freighter grounded in Australia
A 820-foot-long coal freighter sits aground close to Newcastle, Australia – pushed into
the sand bank by the storm swell and extreme winds. (more info)
Some of the photographs look like they’d been photoshopped – so unreal is
the combination of a beached ship and suburban golf courses and houses.
In the same 2007 storm, three other coal ships had sent distress calls and
were at the risk of being washed up.
More Container Ships in Peril
It seems to happen quite often: there is a large website Container Shipping
which documents such events:
What happens when containers from the lost ship wash up on the nearby coast?
That’s easy to predict! (especially under the cover of night… more info)
MSC Napoli grounded near Branscombe beach
Plundering the Loot: This SUV looks pretty useless, but there are some motorbikes
in working condition:
Perhaps some problems can be avoided? See for example, this deeply wrong loading of cars:
Aftermath: the buses and the trucks seem to be hanging in the air:
Shipwrecks claimed by the desert
Most of these pictures are from Namibian Skeleton Coast:
The shipwrecks of the Aral Sea (which lies between Uzbekistan & Kazakhstan,
former Soviet-Union republics) are just as numerous, but less known.
The Aral Sea is catastrophically disappearing (shrunk more than 80 percent in its volume)
since the 1960s…
Rest in Pieces
Ship graveyard near Lisbon, beautifully rendered in HDR by Pedro Vidigal –
can haunt your imagination for days, if you let it. Probably the best environment
for exercises in apocalyptic photography.
See the whole gorgeous set here. Antonio Vi also took photographs of this mesmerizing place:
Another ship graveyard:
And here’s a historic photo of Saddam Hussein’s private yacht "Al Mansur" in 2003
The Sadness & The Beauty
A couple more haunting, almost painting-like photographs from Donibane Sanjuan: