Sunken Ships

10 Sunken Ships From Around The World And Their Astonishing Shipwreck Sites

Published October 15, 2014
Updated March 12, 2024

From the sinking of the Lusitania to the demise of a Russian warship saddled with $130 billion in gold, these are the most fascinating sunken ships from around the world.

For a significant chunk of human history, the world’s leading powers concerned themselves with dominating the seas. As the saying went, “he who ruled the seas, ruled the world.”

Naturally, this led to countless conflicts among nations across the centuries, and more than a few ships being laid to rest in watery graves.

Some of these sunken ships have since been recovered — while others remain on the ocean floor. Explore the most astonishing and eerie ones here.

The USS Arizona

Attack On Pearl Harbor

Wikimedia CommonsThe attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.

Dec. 7, 1941, is commonly described as “a day that will live in infamy.” It was the day that Japan attacked the U.S. Naval base at Pearl Harbor and resulted in the deaths of 2,402 people, multiple shipwrecks, and marked America’s entry into World War II.

Over 300 Japanese planes bombed the area, partly damaging or fully destroying eight U.S. Navy ships, three cruisers, an anti-aircraft training ship, a minelayer, and 188 U.S. aircrafts. Numerous power stations, as well as fuel and torpedo storage facilities, also suffered partial or complete damage.

USS Shaw Exploding During Pearl Harbor

Wikimedia CommonsAmerican sailors stand amid wrecked planes at the Ford Island seaplane base, watching as the USS Shaw explodes in the center background.

According to History, almost immediately, the Navy began efforts to salvage the U.S. fleet rapidly sinking into the ocean. Fortunately, the Navy’s flagship, the USS Pennsylvania, had been safely secured in a dry dock that very day — and thus sustained only minor damage.

The USS Tennessee, Maryland, West Virginia and Oklahoma, were also all sheltered from the aerial assault.

Recovery work on Pearl Harbor was so efficient that it took only three months for the Pennsylvania, Maryland, Tennessee, as well as cruisers Honolulu, Helena, and Raleigh to return to active service.

Ships Damaged During Pearl Harbor Attack

Bettmann/Getty ImagesSome of the U.S. Navy ships damaged during the Pearl Harbor attack.

But not all vessels resumed their function.

Salvaging the USS Nevada was one of the greatest triumphs the Salvage Division accomplished. It took 400 dives to retrieve parts, 1,500 man-hours, and two men losing their lives for the ship to resume duty. The three other heavily damaged vessels — Oklahoma, Arizona, and Utah — remain in the ocean to this day.

Today, a memorial stands at the site of the most famous sunken ship – the USS Arizona – where visitors can view the wreckage from a building designed with a glass floor.

Marco Margaritoff
A former staff writer for All That’s Interesting, Marco Margaritoff holds dual Bachelor's degrees from Pace University and a Master's in journalism from New York University. He has published work at People, VICE, Complex, and serves as a staff reporter at HuffPost.
Leah Silverman
A former associate editor for All That's Interesting, Leah Silverman holds a Master's in Fine Arts from Columbia University's Creative Writing Program and her work has appeared in Catapult, Town & Country, Women's Health, and Publishers Weekly.
Cite This Article
Margaritoff, Marco. "10 Sunken Ships From Around The World And Their Astonishing Shipwreck Sites.", October 15, 2014, Accessed April 23, 2024.