Can you name these famous ill-fated ships?


By: J.P. Naomi

6 Min Quiz

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About This Quiz

Are you a student of the seas? Take this How Stuff Works quiz to find out how many of these 35 famous shipwrecks.

When you think of a famous shipwreck, what comes to mind first? We're thinking about the RMS Titanic. One of the most famous shipwrecks of all time, the Titanic sunk on April 15, 1912, during her maiden voyage from Southhampton, England to New York City. 

The disaster left more than 1,500 passengers and crew dead, including the ship's captain and her architect, and spawned a host of Hollywood movies and documentaries about that fateful night. Until 1985, the wreck of the Titanic went undisturbed, and she will most likely never be raised from her watery grave. 

Still, the discovery of this symbol of the colossal disaster has enabled researchers to understand better what happened to make the supposedly unsinkable ship sink. The discovery has also given treasure hunters a whole trove of artifacts to bring to the surface.

Lucky for you, we've also included 34 other famous shipwrecks in this quiz. So, if you think nautical accidents are cool enough to have read up on them, this quiz is for you.

Let's find out how many of these 35 ill-fated ships you can identify.

What Philippine-registered passenger ferry sank after colliding with the oil tanker MT Vector on December 20, 1987?

MV Doña Paz had a capacity of 1,518, but was carrying at least 2,000 additional passengers not listed on the manifest. More than 4,000 lives were lost that day!


Which French cargo ship, carrying high explosives, collided with a Norwegian vessel on December 6, 1917?

Known as the Halifax Explosion, this accident resulted in approximately 2,000 confirmed deaths and about 9,000 more injured. The explosion occurred in the Narrows, near Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.


Which Senegalese government-owned ferry capsized off the coast of Gambia on September 26, 2002?

MV Le Joola was on route from Zinguinchor in the Casamance region to the Senegalese capital of Dakar when it ran into a violent storm. 1,863 deaths were reported.


What was the name of the side-wheel steamboat that exploded on the Mississippi River in 1865?

With a capacity of only 376 passengers, more than 1,700 were killed when three of the boat's four boilers exploded near Memphis, Tennessee.


In one of the most famous shipwrecks in history, which British passenger liner collided with a large iceberg in 1912?

The RMS Titanic had a capacity of 2,435 passengers and 892 crew members. There were 20 lifeboats on board, which were only enough for 1,178 people.


What is the name of the ocean liner that sank in the Saint Lawrence River after being rammed by SS Storstad on May 29, 1914?

The RMS Empress of Ireland had its maiden voyage on June 29, 1906. 1,012 people died on the day of the infamous collision.


MS Estonia sank in 1994 after capsizing in what sea?

MS Estonia was a cruise ferry built between 1979 and 1980. 852 lives were lost on the day it capsized.


The SS Eastland, known as the Speed Queen of the Great Lakes, was a passenger ship based in which U.S. city?

On July 24, 1915, the SS Eastland rolled on its side while tied to a dock in the Chicago River. 844 lives were lost that day.


What was the name of one of the first iron-hulled ships built for the British Royal Navy, wrecked while carrying troops on February 26, 1952?

The HMS Birkenhead had only 193 survivors out of the estimated 634 lives on board. This disaster is said to have started the unofficial protocol of "women and children first."


Which warship of the English Tudor Navy led the attack on the galleys of a French invasion fleet and sank on July 19, 1545?

Portsmouth, England, was home port to the Mary Rose. The ship was in service from its launch in 1511 until it sank in 1545.


HMAS Vampire, a V-class destroyer of the Royal Australian Navy, was bombed and sunk by aircraft from what country on April 9, 1942?

Despite the ferocity of this attack, Vampire's commanding officer and eight sailors were the only fatalities of the shipwreck.


The Andrea Doria, an ocean liner which sank in 1956 after colliding with the MS Stockholm, was home ported in what country?

The Andrea Doria was home ported in Genoa, Italy. The two ships collided off the coast of Nantucket, Massachusetts. 51 people were killed as a result.


The HMS Victory is believed to have been wrecked on Black Rock during a terrible storm in 1744, while returning where?

No trace of any of the 1,000-plus sailors aboard Victory was found until the wreck was discovered in 2008. The wreck was then handed over to the Maritime Heritage Foundation.


What ship was made famous for coming to the rescue of Titanic survivors just two hours after it sank?

The RMS Carpathia was a Cunard Line transatlantic passenger steamship that was torpedoed by German submarine U-55 on July 17, 1918. Five crew members perished.


What was the name of the Swedish warship which sank only 1,300 meters into its maiden voyage on August 10, 1628?

The Vasa was salvaged more than 200 years later and is now a museum located in Stockholm, Sweden.


Which U.K. Royal Mail ship wrecked off the coast of Salt Island during a hurricane in 1867?

The RMS Rhone is now a popular Caribbean wreck dive site. In total, 123 people were killed on October 29, 1867.


What ship, the largest of the three ships used by Christopher Columbus, ran aground on December 25, 1492?

Owned by Juan de la Cosa, La Santa Maria launched in 1460. It was captained by Christopher Columbus! The Nina and Pinta made a safe return trip to Spain.


Which ship, torpedoed and sunk on July 30, 1945, by a Japanese submarine, was named for a city in Indiana?

The sinking of this U.S. Navy ship led to the greatest single loss of life at sea in the history of the U.S. Navy. Of the 1,197 crewmen, only 317 survived.


Which ship, captained by James Cook and later depicted on the New Zealand fifty-cent coin, sank off the coast of Rhode Island in 1775?

The HMS Endeavor was a British Royal Navy research vessel. In more recent years, the Space Shuttle Endeavour was named for the ill-fated ship, following a naming contest among U.S. schools.


What was the fate of Le Griffon, which took its maiden voyage across the upper Great Lakes?

Le Griffon was built by French explorer La Salle and launched in 1679. It is said to have vanished on the return trip of her maiden voyage, possibly during a violent storm!


Which ship was crushed by pack ice in the Weddell Sea in 1915, doomed to sink in a hole of ice?

Endurance was a three-masted barquentine sailed by Sir Ernest Shackleton in 1914. She launched from Sandefjord in Norway in 1912.


The ill-fated Bonhomme __________ launched in 1766 and sank during the Battle of Flamborough Head in 1779?

The Bonhomme Richard was a warship in the Continental Navy. It was built for the French East India Company.


What sidewheel steamship, originally named Tennessee, was lost in a hurricane off the coast of Georgia in October 1865?

Now a diveable wreck site, the S.S. Republic was located in 2003. Artifacts and video stories about passengers and crew members are on display in select museums.


The SS Edmund ________ sank in a Lake Superior storm on November 10, 1975?

The SS Edmund Fitzgerald was owned by Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company. All 29 crew members were lost that day. A famous song by Gordon Lightfoot chronicles the disaster.


The U.S.S. Monitor, lost at sea on December 31, 1862, was built during which war?

The USS Monitor was an iron-hulled steamship - the first ironclad warship commissioned by the Union Navy. Its cost was a mere $275,000!


Which German military transport ship was sunk by Soviet Submarine S-13 in the Baltic Sea in 1945?

First used as a passenger ship, MV Wilhelm Gustloff launched on May 5, 1937. When it sank during service as a military ship, it is estimated that 9,400 people died - the largest loss of life from a single ship sinking in history.


Which American naval ship sank in Havana Harbor during the Cuban revolt against Spain in 1898?

The Battleship Maine spent three weeks in Havana Harbor before exploding, killing nearly three-quarters of the crew. The shipwreck was scuttled - deliberately submerged - in the Strait of Florida on March 16, 1912.


Named for German Chancellor Otto von Bismark, which ship had only 114 survivors when it and its crew succumbed to its battle wounds?

After launching on February 14, 1939, Bismark had a fairly brief military career. It sustained incapacitating battle damage and was scuttled in the North Atlantic Ocean on May 27, 1941. The HMS Dorsetshire is credited with picking up survivors.


Which British ocean liner was sunk by a German submarine during World War I, causing a major diplomatic uproar?

The German Embassy in the U.S. placed an advertisement in the newspaper warning people of the dangers of sailing on Lusitania, as Germany had declared the seas around the U.K. to be a war zone. More than 1,100 passengers perished on May 7, 1915.


Which famous American battleship was sunk during the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941?

The USS Arizona exploded and sank after the Japanese launched a bomb and attacked. The wreck lies at the bottom of Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona Memorial straddles the ship's hull.


Owned by Adventure Cruises, which worldly cruise ship struck a large uncharted rock in the Sandfly Passage of the Solomon Islands in 2000?

The call sign of the World Discoverer was ELDU3. To this day, she remains with a 46-degree list, though the ship has been ransacked by the locals for equipment and other valuables.


The Greek ship MV Captayannis, known as the "________ boat," sank on January 27, 1974, in the waters of Scotland?

Captayannis was waiting at the Tail of the Bank to deliver sugar to the James Watt Dock when a severe storm hit and caused the vessel to drag her anchor.


After sustaining damage off Cove Island in 1885, the remains of what schooner lie in Big Tub Harbor, in Lake Huron?

Sweepstakes was a Canadian schooner built in Burlington, Ontario in 1867. The wreckage remains intact today, 50 yards from the shoreline and down 20 feet.


The Doty sank, with 17 crew members, following a violent storm on what Lake on October 25, 1898?

LR Doty was a Great Lakes steamship launched in 1893 at West Bay City, Michigan. It was towing the four-masted schooner Olive Jeanette when the storm hit.


Which Italian cruise ship capsized and sank after striking an underwater rock off the coast of Tuscany on January 13, 2012?

The Costa Concordia was captained by Francesco Schettino. He was convicted of manslaughter following the incident. 32 of 4,252 passengers and crew members perished during this tragedy.


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