Famous Shipwrecks in History

old boat part with decorations

It is fair to say that we here at Offshore Supply are very interested in the history of seafaring. One of the things that fascinate us is the infamous shipwrecks that have occurred throughout history! From the Santa Maria to the Titanic, some of the greatest ships in history have been subject to tragedies that have shocked the world.

But, why did these wrecks happen and what were the repercussions?

The Vasa

Built between 1626 and 1628, the Vasa (Wasa) warship was built in Sweden. However, the vessel only made it around 1,300 metres into her maiden voyage before she sunk. That’s less than one mile! The ship had been firing a salute from its canons when a gust of wind had taken hold and caused it to tip too far. Normally, this would have righted itself with the help of ballast but the ship was too narrow and so it capsized.

An inquest was conducted following the wreck; the King of Sweden was furious as he had needed the ship to aid in his war against Poland. However, no one wanted to take the blame for the sinking of the ship and so ultimately no one was prosecuted. Today, the ship was raised in 1961 and resides in a museum at the Vasa Shipyard. It is the world’s most visited shipwreck.

Santa Maria

When Christopher Columbus set out to discover the New World, he famously did so with three ships and came home with only two. The Santa Maria famously sank when the control of the ship was given to an inexperienced cabin boy on Christmas Eve, 1492, who had promptly steered it into a coral reef. The cargo was recovered but the ship itself sank two days later.

Since then, the exact location of the ship has been lost to the depths of history. Many have claimed to find the Santa Maria, but to this day it is a mystery that sailors and history buffs around the world have failed to solve.

The USS Arizona

America’s most famous and visited shipwreck is undoubtedly the USS Arizona. The ship was sunk during the infamous Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour, which caused the death of 1,117 Navy personnel who were aboard or in the harbour at the time. This was an event that propelled the USA into the Second World War in 1941.

A floating memorial now marks the place that caused such loss of life and horror for the US nation. Many of the ashes of those that died were subsequently interned on the ship, standing guard forever as a monument to the atrocities of war. It is now the most visited shipwreck in the USA as many go to pay their respects.

The Bismarck

One of two full-sized German battleships launched in World War II, the Bismarck only saw eight months of service before it fell to the bottom of the ocean. Launched in August 1940, she was scuttled in May 1941 to prevent the British Navy from seizing her during the bitter conflict.

She was one of the largest and most modern battleships in the world, but the Bismarck fell victim to an obsolete British torpedo bomber. The hull breach from this attack spelt the end for the ship. The same man that discovered the remains of the Titanic also discovered the Bismarck in 1989, where he discovered that the hull of the ship was surprisingly intact.


Perhaps the most famous shipwreck in the history of the world, the Titanic has spawned many movies, books and documentaries that have attempted to depict the true events of the horrific wreck. In the early morning of 15 April 1912, the ship hit an iceberg and sunk to the bottom of the ocean.

It had been destined for New York, carrying some of the wealthiest people from England as well as many emigrants of the lower classes of Europe. The wreck of the ship was not discovered until 70 years after the accident, where it was found on the seabed split into two as a result of its contact with the iceberg. Thousands of artefacts have been recovered from the wreck and placed on display around the world.

Contact us and talk with our friendly team of experienced boat chandlers about your deck and engine or galley needs, we have all the supplies a budding explorer may require. Call us with any enquiries on 01524 862010!