5 Very Famous Ships And Their 5 Sometimes Famous Fates

Maritime history is filled with stories of valiant warships and formidable foes. Many of these names are memorized and repeated until they, too, become famous figures in our minds. The seas are tough for famous ships, and few make it out alive. Here are the stories of five famed ships and their sometimes famous fates.

1. The Santa Maria

Forever etched in our minds from grade school history lessons (In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue!), The Santa Maria was a part of one of the greatest historic events of all time. Though the Niña, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria are often grouped together, it was this little ship that carried Christopher Columbus himself onto the shores of the new world. By all accounts, the Santa Maria was a terrible ship, slow and ugly to a fault, so the true wonder of this vessel was that it made it to its destination at all.

What happened to it?

The early explorers of the new world were much more concerned with practicality than preservation, so when the Santa Maria ran aground they quickly harvested her wood for construction. The wood ended up being used for another ship, called La Navidad because the wreck occurred on Christmas.

2. The Golden Hind

Sir Francis Drake sailed the Golden Hind on the first circumnavigation of the globe from 1577 to 1580. Though officially meant only to complete his navigation mission, Drake performed some extracurricular plundering. Queen Elizabeth I of England did not officially endorse his pirateering, but she did enjoy her share of nearly 160,000 pounds upon his return. The queen’s quest for revenge, commandeered by Drake, began with her statement “Drake, I would gladly be revenged on the King of Spain for divers injuries that I have received” and ended in the Anglo-Spanish war.

What happened to it?

The Golden Hind was the first ship to ever be made into a public exhibition after its voyages, and stood in Deptford for nearly 100 years. At that point, she had rotted away and was unceremoniously broken up, with the wood to be reused for various purposes.


3. The Titanic

Most likely the most famous ship in all of maritime history, the RMS Titanic was the largest and fastest passenger ship of its time. The ship’s maiden voyage carried over 2,000 passengers and crew, among them some of the wealthiest and most influential people of the day. She set sail on April 10, 1912, and we all know what happened next.

What happened to it?

The Titanic hit an iceberg four days into its maiden voyage and promptly sunk. Though the process of filling the gigantic ship with water surely took long enough to have time to evacuate everyone on board, the ship only carried enough lifeboats for roughly a third of its total capacity, which was enough for about half of those on its maiden voyage. 1,500 people lost their lives in the maritime disaster. The Titanic itself was recovered in 1985 and lives on both in museums and in the famous 1999 movie.

uss arizona4. Battleship U.S.S. Arizona

This WWI era battleship lived a rather dull life before its surprise destruction. Commissioned in 1916, she remained stateside during the First World War. The U.S.S. Arizona escorted President Wilson to the Paris Peace Conference post-war, was sent to Turkey in 1919, and was used for many training exercises between wars. She also was instrumental in the rescue of victims of the 1933 Long Beach earthquake.

What happened to it?

The U.S.S. Arizona met an untimely demise during the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. She was the victim of a bomb that landed in the perfect position to split the ship in two, killing almost 1200 of her 1400 person crew.  One of only three wartime ships unable to be repaired, she still lies in the bottom of Pearl Harbor, with a WWII memorial straddling her hull.

bismarck5. Bismarck

The German warship Bismarck was the largest and fastest warship afloat in her 1941 heyday. She embarked on a quest to decimate the British merchant fleet in May of 1941, and managed to take down 2 of Britain’s finest during the largest naval hunt in the Royal Navy’s history.

What happened to it?

After sinking the HMS Hood and the HMS Prince of Wales, the Bismarck was hunted down by the Rodney and the King George V. Only 200 of her crew survived the attack that sent the Bismarck to the depths of the ocean. She was rediscovered in 1989 by the same lucky diver who uncovered the Titanic, and was found to have sustained very little damage at the hands of the British after all. She had, in fact, merely been scuttled and not truly sunk.

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About the Guest Author:

This article was written by , who has a deep appreciation for maritime history and boating on the lake with his boat from Manitou Boats.

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