Special Report

The 31 Most Famous Shipwrecks in History

Source: U.S. National Archives / Wikimedia Commons

USS Juneau
> Found: Solomon Islands
> Era: 1942

During the WWII Battle of Guadalcanal, the USS Juneau was sunk by a Japanese torpedo off the Solomon Islands, taking 687 people with it. Among the dead were the Sullivan Brothers — five brothers from Iowa who fought together in the war. The Juneau was discovered in 2018 by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen using his research vessel, the Petrel.

Source: United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) / Greg McFall

Two Brothers
> Found: Hawaiian Coast
> Era: 1800’s

Captain George Pollard, whose ship the Essex sank in 1820 and inspired the novel “Moby Dick,” lost another whaling ship to a storm west of Hawaii in 1823. Pollard and his crew escaped from the Two Brothers as it went down and boarded their consort whaleship, Martha. The shipwreck was discovered 600 miles northwest of Honolulu in 2008. Whaling artifacts such as harpoon tips, anchors, and a blubber hook have been retrieved from the site and the surrounding waters.

Source: Rob Atherton / Getty Images

Satil
> Found: Red Sea
> Era: 1969

After an arms embargo prevented a French shipyard from releasing 13 new missile ships to the Israeli Navy, Israelis secretly commandeered the ships and sailed them to Israel during Christmas Eve of 1969. These ships, including the Satil, were used until the 1990s. The Satil now sits in the Red Sea. It is completely intact and is one of the most popular scuba diving attractions in Israel.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Hiei
> Found: Guadalcanal
> Era: 1942

Discovered this past January, the 31,000-ton Hiei was the first Japanese battleship to be sunk by the U.S. during WWII. One of many discoveries made by researchers aboard the late Paul Allen’s R/V Petrel, the Hiei was found upside-down and split in two off the coast of Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands.

Source: Woodym555 / Wikimedia Commons

Thistlegorm
> Found: Red Sea
> Era: 1941

Launched in 1940, the Thistlegorm — Scottish for blue thistle — was used to transport weapons and supplies to British forces during WWII, until it was sunk by German bombers in the Red Sea near Egypt. The wreckage was first filmed by the explorer Jacques Cousteau in 1955. Thistlegorm’s massive propeller, anti-aircraft guns, and cache of spilled tanks and munitions make it a popular scuba diving hot-spot.