5 Worst Shipwrecks Recorded


Travelling by sea has always been accompanied by risks. That’s why seafaring companies and even shipowners are always encouraged to insure their vessels with a trusted marine insurance from the leading non-life insurance company in the Philippines. There are so many factors which can contribute to the outcome of a ship’s journey. A ship’s survival may be affected by human or mechanical error, harsh weather, and the like.

Apart from knowing what to do, it also wouldn’t hurt to know the causes of the worst shipwrecks in history. This will keep you vigilant and cautious of what’s going on during your sea travel. Listed here are the 5 worst shipwrecks recorded:

Tek Sing

In 1822, a ship containing an enormous quantity of porcelain sank while the captain attempted to go through a shallow strait. Tek Sing, one of the last Chinese Junks, took 1,500 lives and over 350,000 pieces of porcelain along with it to the bottom of the sea. It was not until 1999 that it was discovered.

The Sultana steamboat incident is considered to be the greatest maritime disaster in the USA — worse than the famous Titanic. On April 27, 1865, 1,800 lives were lost as several of the Sultana’s boilers exploded. The steamboat was only allowed to transport 376 people. On the fateful day, the vessel was carrying 2,300 newly released Union POWs (prisoners of war), some civilians, and crew members.

MV Le Joola

With a capacity of only 500, it’s not surprising that the MV Le Joola capsized while carrying more than 2,000 people. This happened 35 kilometers near the Gambian coast in 2002. Although still unclear, it was deduced that one of the reasons for the unfortunate incident was its lack of proper maintenance.
SS Kiangya

On December 3, 1948, thousands of refugees trying to escape the Chinese civil war perished while onboard SS Kiangya, a passenger steamship. It is believed that the ship hit a mine left behind during World War II, exploded, then sank to the bottom of the Huangpu River.

The ship was said to have more than double its suggested capacity. Around 3,920 were estimated to have died in the accident, while only 2,150 were listed on the its manifest. What’s even more surprising is the ship’s maximum capacity is only 1,186.

MV Doña Paz

The MV Doña Paz incident was considered the deadliest among all maritime disasters. The Philippine passenger ferry sank just five days before Christmas, December 20, 1987. This was after running into an oil tanker (Victor) at Tablas Strait, claiming lives of almost everyone on board. 8,000 barrels of oil ignited after the impact resulting in a huge explosion. Only 24 people  survived the accident, half of which are the crew of Victor. The event was then tagged to be twice as deadly as the Titanic.

After an investigation by authorities, it was found that the vessel was overcrowded due to the upcoming holidays. The ferry, which was supposed to have only 1,400 passengers onboard, turned up with an estimated 4,000 casualties. Apart from this, senior officers left an apprentice to man the bridge.

While it’s not healthy for anyone to overthink while travelling at sea, it’s still important to stay aware and alert. Anything can happen while onboard and being knowledgeable and ready can increase your likelihood of surviving such an event. It’s true that all of the shipwrecks recorded are unfortunate accidents. Even so, it does not excuse any seafaring company from liabilities. That’s why marine insurance is so important. Apart from protecting you financially, it gives seafaring companies security from what they may lose during unexpected accidents.