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4 of the Most Intriguing Mysteries, Myths & Stories of Shipwrecks in the Ocean

Updated on August 2, 2011
Fraser Island Shipwreck.
Fraser Island Shipwreck.

The Wonders of the Sea

Shipwrecks have been speculated about and fascinated over for years and years. With many ships having sunk, been found and investigated, there are many stories to share as a result of this.

Some stories surrounding famous shipwrecks and ships lost at sea continue to garner attention from all around the globe and there are still some mysterious losses and incredible stories that continue to be told and remembered.

From shipwrecks that have a story behind them to those that leave us wondering, there is much to learn about from the mysteries at sea.

Some have clear explanations as to what exactly happened at that precise moment when failures occurred, whereas others hold a giant question mark in their place. With no true explanation as to what happened, will anybody ever know the real truth?

Artist's impression of the Titanic sinking.
Artist's impression of the Titanic sinking.
The RMS Titanic in full working order.
The RMS Titanic in full working order.
The Titanic as it sunk.
The Titanic as it sunk.
Many posessions were found after the sinking of the ship.
Many posessions were found after the sinking of the ship.
The famous Titanic shipwreck that sunk on April 10th 1912.
The famous Titanic shipwreck that sunk on April 10th 1912.

The RMS Titanic

The RMS Titanic is probably one of the most famous and talked about ships of all time. This despicable disaster is one that will not be forgotten for a long time to come. Named as the 'unsinkable ship', this disastrous piece of history has even been made into a motion picture to detail the scale of this unfortunate event.

About the Titanic

The construction of the RMS Titanic began on 31 March 1909. By 31 March 1912, the ship was complete. The RMS Titanic was a luxurious passenger liner that could hold up to 3,547 passengers and crew. She was designed by experienced engineers who used the most prestigious and advanced technology and safety features of their time.

The entire length of the RMS Titanic was 882 feet 9 inches and she was equipped with two reciprocating four-cylinder steam engines and a single low-pressure Parson's turbine. Each of these drove a propellor. A total of 29 boilers were on board, fired by 159 coal burning furnaces that would make speeds of up to 26 mph possible.

Her interior was one to take your breath away, with exquisite designs, architecture, expensive furnishing and an outstanding layout. On the ship was a barber shop, a library, and a telephone system. Split into classes, the First-class area consisted of a Turkish Bath, a swimming pool and gymnasium, a squash court, electric bath and Verandah Cafe. Ornate wood panelling covered the interior of First-class rooms, and this all came at a hefty price. The Titanic was to be one of the most impressive and sought after ships of its time.

How she sunk

The ship sunk on April 14th 1912 after she hit an iceberg. The iceberg caused six narrow gashes that resulted in water slowly seeping into the ship. The stern of the leviathan stood upright in the air as the ship was weighed down by the waters of the Atlantic ocean, and finally the vessel disappeared under the water where she now lies, 12,460 ft beneath.

Overall, the RMS Titanic took just under 3 hours to sink where the ship then broke into two pieces from the strain as the ship went into a 45 degree angle, crashing into the sea floor. The two pieces of the Titanic sit 1800 ft apart under the sea and each year the tragedy is remembered for the 2,223 people on board, 1,517 of whom died due to the lack of lifeboats.

Computerised plan of the Yongala on the ocean floor.
Computerised plan of the Yongala on the ocean floor.
The S.S Yongala before she sunk.
The S.S Yongala before she sunk.
Captain William Knight
Captain William Knight
The S.S Yongala wreck is used as a popular diving area.
The S.S Yongala wreck is used as a popular diving area.

S.S Yongala

The S.S Yongala was a passenger ship that sunk during a cyclone off the coast of Queensland, Australia on 23 March 1911. Despite it being underwater for 100 years now, it's still very well preserved and is used as a diving site for people all over the world who visit The Great Barrier Reef to see this sunken ship that is still very much in tact.

About the S.S Yongala

The S.S Yongala was built in Newcastle Upon Tyne in England and was launched on April 19th 1903. The ships name 'Yongala' was named after an Australian town which means 'Good water'. The ship reached a top speed of 29 km/h but she proved to reach 17 knots which was equal to 31 km/h. Up to 67 tonnes of coal were burnt per day aboard the S.S Yongala and in 1906 the ship travelled 5,000 km from Brisbane to Fremantle which was the longest inerstate journey of its time.

How the S.S Yongala sunk

Her final voyage was to be on March 14th 1911, commanded by Captain William Knight. Embarking upon her 99th voyage in Australian waters, 72 passengers were aboard at the time of leaving Melbourne. The journey's intent was to travel to Cairns and just 2 of the 72 passengers were to remain on board after reaching the destination of Brisbane.

Munical Wharf in Brisbane was where the S.S Yongala arrived on the morning of March 20th. The captain was one of the company's most able men, at the age of 62. Serving at the Adelaide Steamship Company for 14 years he had never encountered such an incident as to what was preparing to happen.

Passengers, a large cargo and 'Moonshine' a racehorse were all loaded on board and inspection was in good order for the ship to leave the Wharf. On the morning of March 23rd, The Yongala made its way into Mackay to discharge and receive passengers and cargo. The total amount of passengers on board was now 122. At 1.40pm, she departed.

A telegram warning of a cyclone was seen in the area of the S.S Yongala between Townsville and Mackay. Five hours following this, the lighthouse keeper in the location of Dent Island saws the S.S Yongala steam past in worsening and worrying weather. This was the last known sighting of the ship and it is thought that the ship, crew and passengers sheltered overnight until the following day where a storm broke, leaving a trail of devastation.

The Yongala's late arrival did not cause an immediate concern until some other ships arrived that had also sheltered from the storm. The ship was listed as missing on March 26th and no bodies were ever found, apart from that of 'Moonshine' the race horse. Wreckage washed up on various shores and years later the ship was traced from a safe that posessed a serial number that was tracked down to the S.S Yongala. The Yongala is now used as a popular dive spot with many types of marine life present.

Items underwater from the Thistlegorm's cargo.
Items underwater from the Thistlegorm's cargo.
The S.S Thistlegorm before the damage was done.
The S.S Thistlegorm before the damage was done.
The famous wreck of the S.S Thistlegorm in the Red Sea.
The famous wreck of the S.S Thistlegorm in the Red Sea.
A motorcycle still on board the wreck.
A motorcycle still on board the wreck.
Deteriorated equipment under the sea.
Deteriorated equipment under the sea.

S.S Thistlegorm

The S.S Thistlegorm was a British Merchant Navy ship whose sinking was as a result of a German bomb. Based underwater in The Red Sea, the wreck is used as one of the most popular dive sites in the world, with much fascinating parts to swim among.

About the S.S Thistlegorm

The S.S Thistlegorm was built in Sunderland, England in the year of 1940. Joseph Thompson & Son were the creators of this ship and she was powered by a triple expansion steam engine. The Thistlegorm was partly funded by the British government and was known as an armed freighter.

Armed with an anti-aircraft gun and a calibre machine gun, she was just one of a number of 'Thistle' ships of its time. Four vessels were owned and operated by the Albyn Line at the outbreak of World War II. Three vessels were achieved after the launch of the S.S Thistlegorm until the fourth would be the final voyage.

How the S.S Thistlegorm sunk

The fourth voyage took place on June 2nd 1941, from Glasgow. The destination was to be Alexandria, Egypt. The vessel's cargo contained many things including:

  • BSA motorcyles
  • Norton 16H motorcycles
  • Bren guns
  • Universal Carrier armoured vehicles
  • Bedford trucks
  • Cases of ammunition
  • Radio equipment
  • Wellington boots
  • Aircraft parts
  • Steam Locomotives

The items in the cargo were for the Egyptian Railways and the Allied forces in Egypt. Two bombs were released over the Thistlegorm's bridge and both bombs penetrated the No 5 Hold which was containing the ammunition. This ripped into a huge explosion and the vessel began to sink almost immediately.

The crew quickly abandoned the ship, most jumping into the deep sea. However, one man was aboard with injuries and so a crewman named Angus McLeay jumped aboard, tying rags around his feet to protect from the red hot floor surface. He saved the endangered man and for this won an award for bravery. The ship today is explored by divers from all areas of the world.

The dislay of the USS Arizona wreck.
The dislay of the USS Arizona wreck.
A close view of the historical shipwreck.
A close view of the historical shipwreck.
The damage of the attacks at Pearl Harbour
The damage of the attacks at Pearl Harbour

Pearl Harbour Fleet Of Ships in Hawaii

The well-known attack on the U.S Navy base at Pearl Harbour leaves behind the underwater debris of some intriguing and fascinating shipwrecks.

This incident claimed the lives of 2,400 people and was to be the beginning of World War II for the United States.

The attack took place in the year of 1941, where no less than 300 planes bombed the area causing devastating repercussions.

About the Pearl Harbour Fleet Of Ships in Hawaii

Four U.S Navy battleships were sunk in total, on December 7th 1941. Over 353 Japanese fighters attacked the base with bombers and torpedo planes launched from six aircraft carriers.

Three destroyers, three cruisers, one minelayer and an anti-aircraft training ship were also sunk and damaged.

About 188 U.S. Aircraft were completely destroyed by the attacks, along with 2,402 men being killed and 1,282 being badly wounded. Just 65 Japanese servicemen were killed in the brutal attacks.

The wreckage

The aftermath of the attacks can be seen today through a glass floor at the memorial site of the Arizona shipwreck.

The USS Arizona is the most famous of the shipwrecks and it is still well preserved, making it an interesting piece of history to be displayed.

Diving at the S.S Thistlegorm


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    • BethanRose profile imageAUTHOR


      3 years ago from South Wales

      Thanks for your kind comments Peter :)

    • Peter Geekie profile image

      Peter Geekie 

      3 years ago from Sittingbourne

      Excellent article, well written and researched.

      kind regards Peter

    • Neil Sperling profile image

      Neil Sperling 

      8 years ago from Port Dover Ontario Canada

      well done - must have taken a little time to research! Bravo

    • Danette Watt profile image

      Danette Watt 

      8 years ago from Illinois

      Interesting hub. I hadn't heard of two of the shipwrecks, just Titanic and USS Arizona. But all are sad stories. voted up

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      This HUB is loaded with fascinating facts! Really good research. I wrote a HUB about books that told stories of shipwrecks. Your HUB is way better! I'm voting it up!

    • BethanRose profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from South Wales

      Thanks for your comments and insights on this hub. Shipwrecks are fascinating, there are so many more to write about! Maybe I'll add to this...

    • ubanichijioke profile image

      Alexander Thandi Ubani 

      9 years ago from Lagos

      I say thank you for taking me into a historical journey so fascinating. I enjoyed every bit. Hugs and kisses

    • Phil Plasma profile image

      Phil Plasma 

      9 years ago from Montreal, Quebec

      Very interesting. It is a different world we live in now where thousands of ships pry the seas and we don't here of them sinking.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Great hub! Voted up, awesome and interesting.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      What a terrific and interesting hub. Other than the Titanic and Pearl Harbor fleet, I really wasn't aware of the others. I learned an incredible amount from this extremely well researched hub. The diversity of your hubs, BethanRose, is most impressive. I keep asking muyself "what will that girl write about next?" Voted up, awesome, and interesting.

    • DDS profile image

      David Sproull 

      9 years ago from Toronto

      Very cool and enjoyable hub

    • dilipchandra12 profile image

      Dilip Chandra 

      9 years ago from India

      Great work. Thanks for sharing this interesting and informative hub.

    • profile image


      9 years ago from Dayton, ohio

      Very interesting hub. The last surviver of the titanic passed away just a few years ago.

    • Brad Beard profile image

      Brad Beard 

      9 years ago from Tampa Bay, Florida

      Thanks, this was a good read.


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