Finding a shipwreck has been the stuff of fantasy for as long as people have sought opportunities beyond the horizon. There is no shortage of wrecked vessels to find; it’s estimated that there are more than three million undiscovered shipwrecks around the world.
While explorers such as Jacques Cousteau have long stirred imaginations with underwater probes of doomed vessels, interest in shipwrecks soared in 1985 when professor of oceanography and maritime archeologist Robert Ballard found the most famous shipwreck of all – RMS Titanic. Since then, there’s been an explosion of shipwreck finds around the world. (These are 57 fascinating facts about the Titanic.)
To compile a list of shipwrecks found since the discovery of the Titanic, 24/7 Tempo gleaned information from sources such as Guernsey Museums, Naval History and Heritage Command Marine Insight, UNESCO, History, and Archaeology Mysteries, as well as various media websites.
David Mearns, who discovered a few of the notable shipwrecks on this list, told History that there are several reasons for the uptick in finding sunken vessels. Records around the world have been digitized, making them more easily accessible and explorers have better tools for searches. These include autonomous underwater vehicles, or AUVs, and remote operated vehicles, or ROVs, which allow explorers to probe almost any ocean depth and to cover a wider area than had previously been practical. (Here are the most famous shipwrecks ever found.)
Since the Titanic was found, shipwreck hunters have discovered ships battered by hurricanes like the SS Central America, which contained gold from the 1849 Gold Rush; vessels from the fleets of the Spanish Armada, Vasco da Gama, LaSalle, and Kublai Khan; the world’s oldest intact boat lying off the Bulgarian coastline; and many World War II-era ships sunk in battle, some of them found by the research team of Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.
The most recent significant discovery came in early March 2022, when researchers and maritime archeologists found the British vessel Endurance, the lost ship of Antarctic explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton, that was crushed by sea ice and sank in 1915.
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