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Updated on October 27, 2014

Shipwrecks of North America

This page has information on shipwrecks of North America.

Shipwrecks are often located and mapped using sonar technology.

Sidescan sonar can provide a black-and-white image of the ocean bottom that shows how strongly sound is reflected. Sidescan sonar can show areas of hard and soft seafloor, as well as hard objects such as shipwrecks.

Multi-beam sonar can be used to create a detailed bathymetric map or a three-dimensional image of the seafloor and shipwrecks.

Sub-bottom profiling sonar can indicate the density of layers of rock or other objects hidden beneath the seafloor.

Virginia Shipwrecks

Bow Mariner

On Saturday, February 28, 2004 the Bow Mariner, a 570 foot tanker was southbound off the coast of Virginia when it caught fire, exploded and sank. The tanker was carrying 3.5 million gallons of ethanol, 48,000 gallons of stored diesel fuel and 193,000 gallons of fuel oil. The vessel was roughly 50 miles east of Chincoteague, Virginia in about 240 feet of water when it sank. Water temperature was around 44 degrees at the time.

The Marine Electric

The Marine Electric was a coal carrier She was originally built in 1944 and then refitted in 1962 to be 607 feet long. The vessel left Norfolk, VA on February 10, 1983 carrying a cargo of 25,000 tons of coal. Seas were rough and skies were overcast. The air and water temperature was cold and the wind was blowing in excess of 40 knots. The ship carried a crew of 34.

La Galga and Juno

La Galga (circa 1750) and Juno (circa 1802) were Spanish vessels that sank along Assateague Island.

Local Legend claims that Chincoteague ponies are descendants of Spanish ponies that escaped onto the island from shipwrecks.

Wreck of Airship USS Macon Added to National Register of Historic Places

On February 11, 2010, commemorating the 75th anniversary of the loss of the U.S. Navy airship USS Macon, NOAA announced that the wreck site on the seafloor within Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary has been added to the National Register of Historic Places.

In service less than two years, the 785-foot dirigible Macon was damaged in a storm on Feb. 12, 1935, and sank in the Pacific Ocean off Point Sur, south of San Francisco. All but two of the Macon’s 83 crewmen were rescued by nearby Navy ships.

The Macon wreck is the second site in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary to be included on the National Register. The wreck of the California Gold Rush side-wheel steamship Tennessee was listed in 1981.

source: NOAA press release

SS Montebello Wreck

In August, 2010 the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) sent a robotic submersible down to the wreck of the SS Montebello in an effort to assess the condition of the ship.

The Montebello was torpedoed by an Imperial Japanese submarine during World War II seven miles off the coast near Cambria. The vessel sits on the seafloor at a depth of approximately 900 feet, presumably with its tanks full of Santa Maria crude oil.

Shipwreck Feedback

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      anonymous 7 years ago

      There have been plenty of shipwrecks at sea. They do make for interesting stories and movies.

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 9 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      I haven't given up the idea of finding a ship wreck and some buried treasure. Enjoyed this lens. 5*

    • profile image

      Vemmie 9 years ago


      Thanks for the wonderful post. It is really sad to know the last minute happenings.