The sea is a vast area where anything can happen. Discoveries of different islands can happen but it can also take a turn for the worse as tragedies can also happen. Within the turn of the century, there have been a lot of maritime disasters that have left a mark in human history. These tragedies have been known to take the lives of thousands if not more. Here are your top 5 most tragic accidents at sea.
1. USS Indianapolis
The USS Indianapolis sailed from the island of Guam to the country of the Philippines. It was the USS Indianapolis’ mission to get to the Philippines and reinforce the army from that standpoint. But, on July 30, 1945, shortly after delivering some important parts of the first atomic bomb that was to be used in combat against the Japanese, the ship got hit with a torpedo from a Japanese submarine and sank within a few minutes. Of the 1,196 people on board, almost 300 of them went down in an instant. The remaining crew members of more than 900 were able to hold on for life while being stuck at sea. Right before the ship was destroyed, they were able to signal for help but the US army thought that it would be a trap for them so help was not an option.
The survivors waited for several days for help to come but it did not happen. Dehydration became a problem for those who were stuck at sea and were tempted to drink seawater which would only complicate their already dangerous situation. Aside from the dawning thought of death, they were also getting picked off one by one by sharks underwater. Four days later, the PV-1 Ventura was on patrol and spotted the survivors. They instantly rescued the survivors.
Only 317 people were able to survive such a tragic disaster at sea. Nonetheless, it was an error made by humans that ultimately killed the other people who survived the attack from the Japanese. The USS Indianapolis was the last major US Navy ship to sink by the enemy during World War II.
2. MV Dona Paz
The MV Dona Paz was a ferry boat that was supposed to carry a thousand passengers from the southern island of Samar to the capital city of the Philippines. It took several days before the tragedy struck at sea. The passenger ferry collided with MT Vector that carried 8,800 barrels of gasoline. Within minutes, the boat sank together with thousands of people in it. Survivors claimed that there was no time for the lifeboats to be released and people to jump off the ship since the gasoline instantly destroyed the boat. In fact, most people were not able to react instantly due to the fact that the tragedy happened during the night while people were sleeping on December 20, 1987. The gasoline spilled towards the ferry as well as the water surrounding it making escape very limited. People who were able to jump off were burned and would die instantly. People who survived the ordeal would have to face the shark-infested water as well.
This became a historic tragedy since this was the largest non-military loss of all time. There were more than 4,000 people who died in this tragedy. The reason behind this is that a huge fraction of the passengers were unmanifested rounding up the death toll to around 4,000 people.
3. MV Wilhelm Gustloff
The MV Wilhelm Gustloff was a German ship that was used to evacuate civilians and German officials from Ggdynia or Gotenhafen in Poland. On January 30, 1945, the ship met its fate when three torpedoes were fired in its direction. In just 45 minutes, the ship sank taking the lives of more than 9,000 people with it. The ship was surrounded by the Red Army in East Prussia. As soon as the torpedoes hit the ship, the passengers panicked. A lot of the equipment was destroyed due to the attack but some were due to the panic that rose through the destruction. The Baltic Sea was especially cold that night at -10C. Most people were able to jump off the ship but they drown later on in the onrushing water or due to the frigid temperature of the water. Others were crushed by the debris. Many victims died due to exposure to the freezing water.
The total number of deaths result in around 9,343 including about 5,000 children. This would make the largest loss of life in a single sinking ship in history and still holds the record as of this time. People began debating if the act is a war crime but most were not able to deflect the fact the there were children on board.
4. MV Goya
The MV Goya was a German transport ship that was sunk by a Soviet submarine in the Baltic Sea during the Second World War. The MV Goya transported thousands of documented passengers and there were even reports of thousands more that were undocumented. The ship was supposed to transport civilians who were fleeing the advancement of the Soviet forces. The MV Goya was originally built as a freighter but later served the purpose of transporting fleeing civilians.
After getting hit, the ship sank within seven minutes on April 16, 1945. A total of 6,100 passengers died almost instantly or outside by drowning and hypothermia in the cold waters. Only 181 adults and 2 children survived the tragedy.
5. RMS Titanic
Probably the most famous maritime tragedy of all, the RMS Titanic was thought to be unsinkable but on the evening of April 15, 1912, the ship collided with an iceberg and filled up five of its sixteen watertight compartments in an instant. Two hours later, the ship slowly sank and broke in two.
Around 1,514 people died during the tragedy and more from the frigid waters. Only 710 survived to tell the tale of the most famous sea tragedy and the third deadliest non-military maritime disaster of all time