25 Greatest Maritime Disasters In History

Posted by on January 6, 2013

Ever since people realized that wood floats history has been filled with an immeasurable number of shipwrecks. And although people have tried in vain to build unsinkable ships the ocean will not be tamed. In this list we’re going to go back and take a look at the 25 greatest maritime disasters in history (and yes the Titanic is on there). Keep in mind, however, that this list does not include wartime disasters.

HMS Sussex

HMS SussexThe Sussex was lost in a severe storm on 1 March 1694 off Gibraltar. There were only two survivors out of a crew of 500.

Ottoman frigate Ertuğrul

Ottoman frigate ErtuğrulSank on 18 September 1890 after striking a reef during a typhoon off Kushimoto, Japan. The maritime accident resulted in the loss of 533 sailors including Admiral Ali Osman Pasha.

RMS Atlantic

RMS AtlanticDuring the ship’s 19th voyage, on 1 April 1873, it ran onto rocks and sank off the coast of Nova Scotia, killing 535 people.

SS Grandcamp

SS Grandcamp On 16 April 1947, the French registered ex-liberty ship caught fire and exploded dockside while being loaded with ammonium nitrate at Texas City, Texas. In what came to be called the Texas City Disaster an estimated 581 people, including 28 firefighters, were killed and 5,000 were injured.

SS Princess Alice

SS Princess AliceOn 3 September 1878 the Princess Alice was sunk in a collision on the River Thames with the collier Bywell Castle off Tripcock Point in 1878. Over 650 people died making it the greatest loss of life in any Thames shipping disaster.

SS Norge

SS NorgeOn 28 June 1904 the Norge ran aground close to Rockall on St. Helen’s Reef. The final death toll was 635 with 160 survivors who spent up to eight days in open lifeboats before rescue.

MV Princess of the Stars

MV Princess of the StarsOn 21 June 2008, the ferry Princess of the Stars capsized and sank in Typhoon Fengshen off the coast of San Fernando, Romblon, in the Philippines. Of the estimated 747 people aboard, only 57 survived.

SS Camorta

SS CamortaThe Camorta was caught in a cyclone and sank in the Irrawaddy Delta on 6 May 1902 with the loss of all 655 passengers and 82 crew. She was en route from Madras, India, to Rangoon, Burma, across the Bay of Bengal.

HMS Bulwark

HMS BulwarkOn 26 November 1914, a powerful internal explosion ripped the Bulwark apart in the River Medway estuary. All of her officers were lost, and out of 750 sailors only 14 sailors survived.

HMS Royal George

HMS Royal GeorgeWhile moored at Portsmouth in August 1782 the ship heeled too far and began taking water in through the gun ports before sinking. More than 800 lives were lost.

HMS Vanguard

HMS VanguardJust before midnight on 9 July 1917 at Scapa Flow, HMS Vanguard suffered an explosion and sank almost instantly, killing an estimated 843 men and leaving only two survivors.

SS Eastland

SS EastlandOn 24 July 1915, while moored to the dock in the Chicago River, the capacity load of passengers shifted to the river side of the ship causing it to roll over, killing 845 passengers and crew.

MS Estonia

MS EstoniaThe MS Estonia sank in heavy Baltic seas on 28 September 1994 claiming 852 lives.

PS General Slocum

PS General SlocumThe General Slocum caught fire and sank in New York’s East River on 15 June 1904 killing over 1,000 people and making it New York City’s worst loss-of-life incident until the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

MS al-Salam Boccaccio 98

MS al-Salam Boccaccio 98On 3 February 2006, the passenger ferry Al Salam Boccaccio 98 sank in the Red Sea carrying 1,312 passengers and 96 crew members. Only 388 people survived.
Syed Balkhi


Syed is a co-founder of List25 and a very successful blogger. He is most famously known for his blog WPBeginner that covers WordPress tutorials, beginners guides on topics like installing WordPress, choosing WordPress hosting, and more.

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  • kishor varma

    I m feeling sorry to see that so many beautifull ships are no more and with the ships hundreds of brilliant, brave officers, sailors have lost their life.

  • cysko

    List is bullcrap without the wilhelm gustloff

    • Forstalin Turpido

      I dont feel any remorse for monsters responsible for killing 6,000,000 people.

      • disqus_tk0MVoMOu9

        What a stupid comment. The Soviets, Bolshevik Jews, killed 60 million White Russians.

  • Salty Sailor Man

    I’m shocked that the Wilhelm Gustloff with over 10,000 civilians did not make this list. Or any of the other refugee ships packed with German civilians fleeing the Red Army – MV Goya 7000+, MV Steuben 4500+, Cap Arcona 6000+ and many others with thousands more dead..
    Are those lives not worth counting? Why hide this history from everyone?

    • francis sailor

      are you kidding me? are really reading this article? it stated there that these are accidents that happened on peace times.. not during war dumbass

  • anthony hackett

    list25 is awesome very interesting would like to see 25 most influential people of all time

  • Maggie

    Titanic should be number one. Just saying, but nice list!!!!

  • Unindoctrinated

    Nice list. It has inspired me to investigate many of these further. Thank you.