Genealogy Trails
Greatest (Peacetime) Maritime Ship Disasters


The sinking of the RMS Titanic in 1912 is probably the most famous shipwreck.

The wartime sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff during World War II, with an estimated loss of about 9,300 people in 1945 remains the greatest maritime disaster ever.

In peacetime, the loss of the Doña Paz with an estimated 4,386 lost is the largest non-military loss recorded from a single ship.

 Ship Name

Registry

Date of Event

Facts

Est. # of Dead

Est. # of Survivors

 Other Info

MV Doña Paz

Philippines

20 December 1987

Collided with the oil tanker Vector

est. 4,341

 

 

SS Kiangya

China

4 December 1948

Thought to have hit a mine, it blew up and sank in the mouth of the Huangpu River fifty miles south of Shanghai

between 2,750 and 3,920

700 to 1,000

 

SS Mont-Blanc

Canada

6 December 1917

Filled with wartime explosives, it collided with the Norwegian ship Imo in Halifax, Nova Scotia

c. 2000

9,000 injured

 

Le Joola

Senegal

26 September 2002

overloaded with passengers, it capsized in rough seas

est. 1863

 

 

Tek Sing

China

6 February 1822

Filled with Chinese immigrants, it struck a reef near Indonesia

est. 1600

208

 

Toya Maru

Japan

26 September 1954

sank during Typhoon Marie in the Tsugaru Strait between the Japanese islands of Hokkaido and Honshu

est. 1153

 

 

Al Salam Boccaccio 98

Egypt

3 February 2006

sank in the Red Sea en route from Duba, Saudi Arabia to Safaga in southern Egypt

1,020

388

 

RMS Empress of Ireland

Canada

29 May 1914

sank after colliding with SS Storstad on the Saint Lawrence River

1,012

 

 

SS General Slocum

United States

15 June 1904

aught fire and burned to the water line in New York's East River

1,000+

 

 

SS Kiche Maru

Japan

22 September 1912

Sank during a typhoon in the Pacific Ocean

1,000+

 

 

SS Hong Moh

Singapore

3 March 1921

struck the White Rocks near Shantou on the southern coast of China

about 1,000

100

 

MS Estonia

Estonia

28 September 1994

sank in rough water on the Baltic Sea

852

 

aka
MS Viking Sally (19801990)
MS Silja Star (1991)
MS Wasa King (1993)

SS Eastland

U.S.

24 July 1915

rolled over while moored to the dock in the Chicago River

845

 

Read more on our Cook county site

HMS Vanguard

U.K.

9 July 1917

Explosion

843

2

 

MV Bukoba

Tanzania

21 May 1996

Lake Victoria

est 800

 

manifest showed 443 1st & 2nd class... 3rd class had no manifest

MV Princess of the Stars

Philippines

21 June 2008

capsized and sank in Typhoon Fengshen off the coast of San Fernando, Romblon in the Philippines

814

48

 

HMS Bulwark
Predreadnought

Great Britain

26 November 1914

explosion while moored in Kethole Reach

738

12

 

SS Camorta

Great Britain

6 May 1902

Sank in a Cyclone in the Irrwaddy Delta

737

 

 

SS Mendi

Great Britain

21 February 1917

Struck by SS Darro while transporting the 5th Battalion, South African Native labour Corps to France

646

177

 

SS Norge

Denmark

28 June 1904

ran aground near Rockall on St. Helen's Reef

635

160

 

Novorossiysk

Soviet Union

29 October 1955

Exploded while moored in Sevastopol Bay

608

 

 

Shamia

Bangladesh

27 May 1986

capsized and sank during a storm on the Meghna River in southern Barisa, Bangladesh

est. 600

 

 

SS Princess Alice

Great Britain

3 September 1878

The Bywell Castle collided with the Princess Alice off Tripcock Point. The Princess Alice broke in two and sank within four minutes

est. 600

69-170

 

SS Grandcamp

U.S.

16 April 1947

caught fire and exploded dockside while being loaded with ammonium nitrate at Texas City, Texas

est. 581
including 28 firefighters

 

5,000 injured

SS La Bourgogne

France

7 March 1898

Collided in dense fog with the British ship Cromartyshire off Cape Sable, Nova Scotia

549

177

 

Ertugrul

Ottoman Empire

18 September 1890

struck a reef and sank during a typhoon off Kushimoto, Japan

533

 

 

HMS Sussex

Great Britain

1 March 1694

Lost in a storm off of Gibraltar

498

2

 

SS Valbanera

Spain

September 1919

Sank in the Gulf of Mexico 45 miles west of Key West, Florida during a hurricane

488

0

 

HMS Captain

Great Britain

7 September 1870

capsized and sank in high winds on the Atlantic Ocean

480

18

 

Cospatrick

Great Britai

17 November 1874

caught fire south of the Cape of Good Hope

469

3

 

MV Salahuddin-2

Bangladesh

3 May 2002

sunk in the Meghna River south of Dhaka, Bangladesh

450

 

 

SS Central America

U.S.

9 September 1857.

Sank off the Carolinas during a hurricane

425

153

 

SS Admiral Nakhimov

Soviet Union

31 August 1986

collided with the large bulk carrier Pyotr Vasyov in the Tsemes Bay, near the port of Novorossiysk, Russian SFSR

423

811

 

Cataraqui
Barque

Great Britain

4 August 1845

struck a reef south-west of King Island,Tasmania

400

9

 

MV Nasrin-1

Bangladesh

8 July 2003

capsized and sank in the Meghna River near Chandpur, Bangladesh

400+

 

 

Lady Elgin

U.S.

8 September, 1860

Sunk in a collision with schooner Augusta of Oswego 10 miles from shore off of Chicago on Lake Michigan

about 400

 

 

HMS Invincible

Great Britain

16 March 1801

Damaged in a storm off the Norfolk Coast

over 400

196

 

RMS Tayleur

Great Britain

21 January 1854

grounded and sank during its maiden voyage off Lambay Island, Dublin Bay.

380

272

 

HMS Eurydice

Great Britain

24 March 1878

caught in a heavy snow storm off the Isle of Wight, capsized and sank

376

2

 

HMS Victoria

Great Britain

22 June 1893

rammed by the HMS Camperdown and sunk off Tripoli in Syria

358

357

 

SS Elbe

Germany

30 January 1895

Sank after a collision with the steamship Crathie in the North Sea

334

20

 

HMS Athenienne

Great Britain

20 October 1806

ran aground on a submerged reef in the Strait of Sicily and sank

347

141

 

SS Princess Sophia

Canada

23 October 1918

ran aground during a storm

343

 

the only survivor was a pet dog

SS Schiller

Germany

7 May 1875

sank after hitting the Retarrier Ledges in the Isles of Scilly

335

37

 

Yoshino

Japan

15 May 1904

Sunk after colliding with the Japanese armored cruiser Kasuga in dense fog

319

19

 

SS Pacific

United States

 4 November 1875

  collision with the SS Orpheus off the coast of Cape Flattery, Washington

 298

2

 

 Northfleet

 Great Britain

 22 January 1873

While at anchor off of Dungeness, it was run down by the steamer Murillo

 293

 

 

 New Era

 United States

 13 November 1854

 grounding in a storm at Deal Beach in New Jersey

 284

 143

 

USS Maine

United States

15 February 1898

Sank after an explosion in the ships magazine while at anchor in the harbor at Havana, Cuba

274

100

preceded Spanish-American War

12 ships sunk in Great lakes Storm of 1913

United States

1913

a cyclonic blizzard occurred between 7 and 10 November 1913

255

 

Seven more ships were damaged beyond repair and an additional 19 ships that had been stranded were later salvaged

Powhatan

United States

16 April 1854

sank off the coast of New Jersey in a severe storm with no survivors

between 250 and 311

 

 

HMS Avenger

Great Britain

20 December 1847

Ran agound on the Sorelle rocks near Malta

242

8

 

Neva

Great Britain

13 May 1835

wrecked on a reef near King Island, Tasmania

224
(mainly women and children)

 

a convict ship that left Cork, bound for Sydney, Australia

SS Waratah

Great Britain

27 July 1909

en route from Australia to London was lost without trace off Durban on the east-coast of South Africa.

211

 

 

Iolaire

United Kingdom

1 January 1919

hit submerged rocks in the Minch strait and sank

at least 205

c. 75

 

SS Heraklion

Greece

8 December 1966

an unsecured vehicle broke through the loading door which allowed seawater to enter the ship, capsizing and sinking it in the Aegean Sea

over 200

47

en route from the port of Souda to Piraeus in Athens

Liberté

France

25 September 1911

An accidental explosion at the bow at starboard started a fire in the magazines while moored in Toulon harbour

200

 

 

Atlantic

United States

20 August 1852

Sank after a collision with the steamer Ogdensburg off Long Point on Lake Erie

bet. 150-200

300-350

 

MS Herald of Free Enterprise

Great Britain

6 March 1987

The doors to the car decks were left open by the Assistant Bosun causing the ferry to take on water and quickly capsize. It sank just minutes after leaving the harbour at the Port of Bruges-Zeebrugge

539

346

 

SS Portland

United States

26 November 1898

lost on a run from Boston to Portland in "The Portland Gale"

192

0

 

SS Southern Cross

Canada

March 31, 1914

Lost in a storm between 31 March and 3 April 1914 believed to be in the vicinity of Cape Pine

173

0

 

SS Florizel

Canada

23 February 1918

Sunk after striking a reef at Horn Head Point Cape Race near Cappahayden, Newfoundland Canada

173

 

 

Shiun Maru

Japan

11 May 1955

Collided in dense fog with sister ship Uko Maru in the Seto Inland Sea

168

 

 

MS Scandinavian Star

Denmark

April 7, 1990

caught fire in 1990 on route between Norway and Denmark

157

 

 

MV Princess of the Orient

Philippines

18 September 1998

Capsized in typhoon "Vicky" near Fortune Island in Batangas

150

238

Survivors were floating at sea for more than 12 hours before rescuers were able to reach them

SS Larchmont

United States

12 February 1907

Collided with schooner Harry knowlton and sunk off Block Island, Rhode Island

est. 150

50

 

MS Express Samina

Greece

26 September 2000

hit a reef and sunk near the island of Paros

143

 

82 of the 473 passengers died
61 crew members

MV Cebu City

Philippines

2 December 1994

sunk in Manila Bay after colliding with Singaporean freighter Kota Suria

140

 

 

Moby Prince

Italy

10 April 1991

collided with the oil tanker Agip Abruzzo in Livorno harbour and caught fire

140

 

 

SS Wairarapa

New Zealand

29 October 1894

In heavy fog, while en route from Sydney to Auckland, ran into Great Barrier Island

140

90

 

SS Noronic

Canada

16 September 1949

Caught fire dockside at Toronto Harbour

est. 118 to 139

 

Most of the deaths were from suffocation or burns, from being trampled or from leaping off the upper decks onto the pier. Only one person drowned

SS Koombana

 

20 March 1912

sank at an unknown location north of Port Hedland, Western Australia during a cyclone

est. 138

0

Other than some floating wreckage, no trace was ever found of the ship

SS Morro Castle

United States

8 September 1934

en route from Havana to New York, the Morro Castle caught fire and burned

137

412

 

SS Daphne

Great Britain

3 July 1883

capsized and sank moments after her naming and launching at a shipyard in Govan, Glasgow, Scotland

est. 124 to 195

70

 

MV Princess Victoria

United Kingdom

31 January 1953

Sank in the North Channel during a severe storm

133

 

 

SS Valencia

United States

22 January 1906

struck a reef near Pachena Point on the southwest coast of Vancouver Island and sunk

136

37 men

no women or children survived

SS Kuru

Finland

7 September 1929

sank after capsizing in high winds in Lake Näsijärvi near Tampere, Finland

136-138

 

 

HMS Ontario

Great Britain

31 October 1780

sank in a storm while underway from Fort Niagara to Oswego

est. 130

 

Casualties included 60 British soldiers of the 34th (Cumberland) Regiment of Foot, a crew of about 40 Canadians and possibly up to 30 American prisoners of war

SS Mohegan

 

14 October 1898.

Sank off the coast of the Lizard Peninsula, Cornwall after hitting The Manacles

106

 

 

SS City of Rio De Janeiro

 

21 February 1901

Sank after striking a submerged reef at the entry to San Francisco Bay while inward bound from Hong Kong.

135

85

wreck lies in 320 feet of water just off the Golden Gate and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places

TSMS Lakonia

Greece

22 December 1963

Caught fire and burned in the Atlantic Ocean

128

 

Only 53 of the people were killed in the actual fire. The rest died from exposure, drowning and injuries sustained while diving overboard

HMS Gladiator

 

25 April 1908

During a late snowstorm off the Isle of Wight Gladiator was heading into port when she struck the outbound American steamer SS Saint Paul.

128

 

 

SS Bokhara

 

10 October 1892

sank in a typhoon off the coast of Sand Island in the Pescadores, Formosa.

125

 

11 members of the Hong Kong cricket team perished (2 survived)

SS Hilda

 

19 Nov 1905

struck ground at the entrance to Saint-Malo harbour and sank

125

6

 

SS Yongala

Australia

23 March 1911

sank off Cape Bowling Green, Australia in a cyclone

122

0

sank without a trace

SS Stella

 

30 March 1899

Struck rocks and sank in 8 minutes off the Casquets, Channel Islands

105

112

Most of the deaths were due to exposure and hypothermia in the cold sea water.

USS Huron

United States

24 November 1877

wrecked in a heavy storm near Nags Head, North Carolina.

98

 

 

Hans Hedtoft

Denmark

30 January 1959

On its maiden voyage, struck an iceberg while sailing from Greenland

95

0

 

SS Yarmouth Castle

Panama

1965

fire while at sea

90

 

 

SS Home

United States

7 October 1837

struck a sandbar off the New Jersey coast.

90

 

Unaware of the extent of the damage, her captain proceeded to Charleston where she encountered the Racer's Storm. The Home started taking on water as she rounded Cape Hatteras and was put aground to ride out the developing storm. Before rescue operations could be effected the next day, the Home was torn to pieces by the surf

Metropolis

United States

31 January 1878

sank off the North Carolina coast

85

 

 

Eleanor Lancaster

 

7 November 1856

wrecked in a gale on Oyster Bank, Newcastle, NSW

 

 

All crew were rescued by a Mr.Skelton, who rowed out to them three times from the shore. The event is described in the anonymous 19th century poem The Perilous Gate.

SS Penguin

New Zealand

12 February 1909

hit a rock near the entrance to Wellington harbour, sinking, then exploding when water entered her boiler room.

75

30

 

HMAS Voyager

Australia

10 February 1964

rammed by the aircraft carrier HMAS Melbourne, it sunk off Jervis Bay, New South Wales

82

232

 

Currach Fishing tragedy

 

11 February 1813

200 Currachs were fishing off Bruckless Bay, Donegal. The shoal of herring moved out to sea, followed by the fragile boats. A sudden storm capsized most of them.

over 80 fishermen

 

 

Alpena
Sidewheel steamer

United States

 

capsized and sank on Lake Michigan in the "Big Blow" storm of 15 October 1880

est. 80

 

 

HMS Affray

 

16 April 1951

sank (unknown cause)

75

 

was the last Royal Navy submarine to be lost at sea

USS Frank E. Evans

United States

3 June 1969

hile operating as a plane guard for the Australian aircraft carrier HMAS Melbourne during the SEATO training exercise Sea Spirit, the destroyer USS Frank E. Evans crossed the bows of the carrier and was rammed and sunk

74

199

 

STV Royston Grange

United Kingdom

11 May 1972

destroyed by fire after a collision with the petroleum tanker Tien Chee in the Rio de la Plata

72

0

 

HMS K5
Submarine

British

20 January 1921

sank en route to a mock battle in the Bay of Biscay.

57

 

 

HMS M1
Submarine

British

1925

A Swedish ship, SS Vidar, struck the submerged M1 and sank her in 70 m of water.

69

 

 

HMS Truculent
Submarine

British

12 January 1950

Collided with the Swedish oil tanker Divina

64

 

 

SS Andrea Doria

Italy

25 July 1956

approaching the coast of Nantucket, Massachusetts bound for New York City, the Andrea Doria collided with the eastward-bound MS Stockholm

46

1,614

 

MV Derbyshire

United Kingdom

9 September 1980

lost south of Japan, during Typhoon Orchid

44

0

largest UK ship ever to have been lost at sea

SS Islander

Canada

15 August 1901

sank while sailing down the narrow Lynn Canal south of Juneau, after striking an iceberg that stove a large hole in her forward port quarter

40

132

 

SS Edmund Fitzgerald

United States

10 November 1975

sank during a Lake Superior gale

29

0

 

SS Daniel J. Morrell

 

29 November 1966

broke up during a strong storm on Lake Huron

29

1

 

Carl D. Bradley

 

18 November 1958

sank in Lake Michigan in a storm

33

 

 

Superior City

 

1920

sank in Whitefish Bay on Lake Superior after a collision with the Willis L. King

29

 

 

SS Dakota

United States

March 3 1907

Sank outside Yokohama harbor

0

 

all of her passengers and crew survived by evacuating the ship in her lifeboats

The source of these facts is wikipedia.org

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