10 Worst Shipwrecks in the 21st Century

As the need for water transport is constantly increasing, so are the mishaps in the ocean bodies. The year 2020 alone holds the record of 49 ship losses and the stats were even worse in the previous years. The total number of maritime disasters in the 21st century is estimated to be more than a thousand. Let us have a look here, at the 10 of the worsts among them.


  1. MV Le Joola

    MV Le Joola
    Source: Wikipedia

Le Joola was a Roll-on/Roll-off ferry. On 26th September 2002, it was sailing farther out than where it was licensed to sail when it ran into a violent storm. It capsized near the coast of Zambia. It was carrying 2,000 passengers, nearly four times the ship’s capacity. 1,863 of them died, and only 64 lives could be saved. It holds the record for the second-worst peacetime disaster in the world.


  1. MV Spice Islander 1

    MV Spice Islander 1

On the 10th of September 2011, The Spice Islander 1 sailed from the port of Unguja for Pemba Island carrying over 2000 passengers. Unfortunately, within 3 hours of its journey, it capsized near the coast of mainland Tanzania killing 1500 passengers.


  • Mediterranean Sea migrant shipwreck-

On the 13th of April 2005, a vessel carrying refugees and migrants which was bound for Europe foundered near the coast of Libya. The already overloaded ship capsized when its occupants rushed to one side to draw the attention of a merchant ship. Only 28 people survived, and the estimated death toll came out to be 1100.


  • MS Al-Salam Boccaccio 98-

Al-Salam Boccaccio was an Egyptian Roll-on/Roll-of passenger ferry. It was capsized in the Red Sea in February 2006. Two hours after its departure from Duba, Saudi Arabia, the fire alarm sounded. All fire mitigation efforts proved futile, and the ship sank in the process. While fighting the fire, when the captain asked permission to return to port, the owners ordered him to continue. Thus, no Mayday was made. The accident took the lives of 1020 passengers and around 388 people could survive. The owners were later imprisoned in 2009. It is the worst maritime disaster in Egyptian history.


  • MV Princess of the stars-

A passenger ferry owned by Filipino capsized and sank on 21 July 2008, near the coast of San Fernando. It was whipped by the typhoon Fengshen. It was en-route from Malina to Cebu City. Of the estimated 747 people, 690 lost their lives.


  • Nazreen-1-

This was a seriously overcrowded ferry that was carrying 750 people on the 8th of July 2003. It sunk in the Meghna River, near Chandrapur, Bangladesh. Out of the 750 people, only 220 could be rescued and the rest met an unfortunate fate.


  • MV Dongfang Zhi Xing

 MV Dongfang Zhi Xing translated as the ‘Oriental Star’ or the ‘Eastern Star’ was Cruise Ship that operated in inland China. On 1st June 2015, with 454 people on board, she was sailing on the Yangtze River. In the Hubei Province, she encountered a thunderstorm and the vessel capsized, killing 442 passengers.


  • Salahuddin-2-

 On the 3rd May of 2002, this Bangladeshi passenger ferry sank in the Meghna River, south of Dhaka, claiming the lives of more than 450 people.


  • Senopati Nusantara-

  Senopati Nusantara was a Japanese-built, Indonesian ferry. It was on its scheduled voyage on the 30th of December 2006 when it hit a violent storm at the Java Sea. A minimum of 400-500 passengers are reported to be dead.


  • Mediterranean Sea migrant shipwreck-

 A ferry bound for Europe was capsized on the Libyan coast on the 13th of April 2015. It was hugely overcrowded as it was carrying refugees and migrants to Europe from Libya. It overturned as the passengers moved to one side trying to draw the attention of an Italian Rescue Team. 144 passengers were saved by the Italian Coast Guard and approximately 400 lost their lives.

The technological advancement in today’s time has made it possible to reduce the number of shipwrecks to a large extent. The underwater robotics, GPS, sensors, and control systems facilitate easy tracking and monitoring of the vessels. But even then, there has been an increasing number of disasters in the maritime world, largely due to overcrowding and technical failures. This leads to huge losses. Therefore, even after all the improvements, a much more efficient control system is required.


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