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  • Epic hunt for shipwreck Endurance 100 years on

    The 'Endurance' leaning to one side during the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, 1914-17

    By Olivia Buxton -


    The name alone captures man’s innate desire to conquer the unknown perfectly. Endurance… Ernest Shackleton’s ill-fated ship that lies entombed in the Antarctic.

    Endurance… the tale of survival, suffering and grit that would deliver Shackleton and his 27-strong crew to safety after months in sub-zero hell. And endurance… what a crew – including TV historian Dan Snow – will need as they set off to find the shipwreck 100 years after Shackleton died.

    The explorer made three polar expeditions but it was the Endurance mission which began in 1914 that is the stuff of legends. The ship lay stuck in ice for nine months before sinking in October 1915. Its crew, encamped on an ice floe, watched her go down in the Weddell Sea.

    Another four months passed before the shifting ice melted sufficiently for a six-day voyage in small boats to Elephant Island. Shackleton then took five men on an open lifeboat to seek help and, another four months later, the remaining the crew were rescued.

    The men were ravaged by frostbite and desperately hungry after surviving on penguins, seals and seaweed. Here, TV’s Dan, 43, explains why he is joining the bid to find Endurance:

    The harbour at Grytviken, in South Georgia, is a haven for mariners. In January 1922, the shore was littered with the rotting carcasses of the whales that drew a small group of hunters to this extremity, on the edge of Antarctica.


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  • Treasure hunters find 900 bottles of cognac

    Peter Lindberg and colleague Floris Marseille show bottles of cognac on October 16, 2019, aboard the Deepsea Worker, the vessel used to salvage the bottles.

    By Devika Desai - Calgary Herald

    Underwater treasure hunters exploring the remains of a sunken Swedish steamer in the Baltic Sea have discovered a motherload of cognac and liqueur bottles stowed on the ship — but are unsure if they’re still drinkable. 

    Divers and unmanned vehicles from Ocean X team — who were the first to discover the steamer ‘Kyros’ in 1999 — and iXplorer have salvaged more than 600 bottles of De Haartman & Co. cognac and 300 bottles of Benedictine liqueur. 

    The bottles were supposed to be delivered from France to St. Petersburg, Russia via Sweden in December 1916, the team posted on their Its trip came to a quick halt when it was stopped by German submarine ‘UC58’. The submarine sank the steamer as the Germans considered parts of the cargo as contraband. The Kyros crew however, were transferred to a nearby ship and were safely returned to Sweden.

    The Benedictine company — now owned by Bacardi — was just 50 years old when the bottles disappeared with the shipwreck. After 100 years of lying underwater, the team has yet to determine whether the alcohol is still suitable to drink.

    “We don’t know yet if its drinkable. We get a fraction of smell from the Benedictine bottles and it smells sweet and from herbs,” Peter Lindberg, a spokesperson for Ocean X, told CNN. “We can’t get any sense of smell from the cognac bottles, but that might just be in order since it should not smell through a cork.”

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  • Brooch salvaged from the General Abbatucci under the hammer

    From the shipwreck of the General Abbatucci 1869

    By Gemma Jimmison - Harrogate Advertiser

    On offer with an estimate of £400-600 plus buyer’s premium, the brooch was reportedly salvaged from the wreck of the General Abbatucci, a French steamship that was sunk off the north coast of Corsica on May 7, 1869 on its way from Marseilles to Italy.

    A quantity of jewellery was salvaged from the wreckage in 1996 and sold at Christie’s London on October 7, 1997, when the present brooch was lot 259.

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  • The world’s deepest shipwreck

    The U.S. Navy destroyer USS Johnston (DD-557) off Seattle, Washington (USA), on 27 October 1943. Smith Tower is in the background over the bow of the ship

    From War Is Boring

    Just over four miles beneath the waves of the Philippine Sea, the mottled remains of an American destroyer sit upright on the bottom of the sea.

    Entombed in darkness where no light can reach her, the vessel bearing the number “557” is more than just the deepest shipwreck ever found- she is an unlikely starring character in the story of one of the most dramatic and heroic naval “last stands” of the Second World War.

    Commissioned on 27 October, 1943, the USS Johnston was a Fletcher-class destroyer, a relatively new class of warship designed as a “Swiss Army Knife” destroyer that could perform a multitude of duties.

    While a large destroyer for the time, the increased armor, torpedo capacity and number of guns bristling from the Fletcher-class destroyers made them rather cramped on the inside for the 329 officers and enlisted aboard.

    “This is going to be a fighting ship,” Commander Ernest Evans told his crew on the day of Johnston’s commissioning. “I intend to go in harm’s way, and anyone who doesn’t want to go along had better get off right now.”

    Evans was rather popular with his men, often inspiring their tenacious and heroic tendencies.

    “The skipper was a fighting man from the soles of his broad feet to the ends of his straight black hair,” said Ensign Robert C. Hagen, a gunnery officer aboard the Johnston. “He was an Oklahoman and proud of the Indian blood he had in him. We called him – though not to his face – ‘the Chief.’ The Johnston was a fighting ship, but he was the heart and soul of her.”

    Only a couple months after commissioning, the Johnston found herself pounding the beaches off Kwajalein and Eniwetok in the Marshall Islands Campaign, providing much-needed fire support to the “grunts” ashore while coming under fire herself.

    Not long after, the crew sank a Japanese submarine and participated in the Battle of Guam, firing over 4,000 shells by July. In addition, she protected escort carriers used to capture Peleliu, in what would be one of the bloodier battles of the Pacific front.

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  • WWII shipwreck killed 250 off NC coast

    The Lady Hawkins was torpedoed by a German U-boat submarine in 1942, and its location remains unknown, despite the availability of high-tech search and seafloor mapping equipment.

    From Mark Price - The Charlotte Observer

    The Graveyard of the Atlantic holds many secrets, but few have a story as haunting as the sinking of the Lady Hawkins — a Canadian “luxury liner” that disappeared off the North Carolina coast with about 250 people.

    It happened 80 years ago this month, and the mystery is not how the ship sank — but where.

    The Lady Hawkins was torpedoed by a German U-boat submarine in 1942, and its location remains unknown, despite the availability of high-tech search and seafloor mapping equipment. It’s as if an entire cruise ship — and two lifeboats full of people — simply vanished.

    Finding the wreck is a fantasy shared by war historians in both the United States and Canada, but maritime researchers say there is a good reason no one has ever gone looking for the Lady Hawkins.

    And it has a lot to do with what happened that January morning in 1942, when one calamity after another befell the passengers and crew.

    Only 71 of the 322 people aboard the Lady Hawkins survived the sinking, reports. Some counts put the death toll as high as 258. The ship was unescorted and highly vulnerable when it encountered a German U-boat 150 miles offshore, somewhere between Cape Hatteras and Bermuda, historians say.

    At 7:43 a.m. on Jan. 19, 1942, the U-66 surfaced just over 100 yards away and fired the first torpedo, which damaged “three of her six lifeboats,” according to Civilians and Wars at Sea.

    “The Lady Hawkins shuddered under the impact. ... Her forward mast crashed,” Time magazine reported. “Over on her side careened the 7,988-ton liner. Passengers and crew tumbled into the sea.

    A second torpedo exploded in the Lady Hawkins’ engine room. “One lifeboat got away,” the outlet reported. “Somehow 76 people, some in night clothes, hair matted with oil, managed to scramble into it or were pulled up from the sea. It was built to carry only 63. Jammed in so tightly that they could not sit down.”

    Two other lifeboats also managed to launch, but the boats and their occupants were never found, according to Civilians and Wars at Sea.

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  • 35-year mission to find a gold-laden shipwreck

    The wrecking of the General Grant

    By Mike White - Stuff

    Bill Day has spent 35 years and millions of dollars trying to find one of the world’s most famous shipwrecks – the gold-laden General Grant.

    The ship struck the Auckland Islands in 1866 and has attracted pirates, treasure hunters and adventurers ever since. Next week, Day leaves from Bluff on his fifth, and final, expedition to discover the wreck. Mike White meets the man who might finally solve the riddle of the General Grant’s gold.

    It was a rare and welcome thing – a calm day in the Auckland Islands, a place notorious for being the storm-slashed graveyard of ships and sailors.

    It was January 1986 and Bill Day had just slithered back on board an inflatable boat after a fruitless dive trying to find the most famous of these wrecks, the General Grant. He perched on the boat’s edge, admiring the cove they were in, a waterfall tumbling off one edge, a neat archway piercing a peninsula.

    “Isn’t it a pity wrecks don’t go down in places like this,” he lamented to the boatman.

    Minutes later, fellow diver Willie Bullock broke the surface clutching a lead weight old ships used to measure the water’s depth. “There’s a bit of s..t down there,” Bullock spluttered.

    Day couldn’t believe his ears or luck – an unknown wreck in a beautiful location, which fitted the description of where the General Grant sank with a fortune in gold. He flicked on his mask and fins, and rolled back into the water.

    As the bubbles cleared in front of his mask and he dived towards the seabed, Day was already thinking that maybe they’d finally solved the mystery of the General Grant that had confounded and eluded so many, for so many years.

    The General Grant had set sail from Melbourne in May 1866, bound for England with 83 crew and passengers on board. It was a 180’ square-rigged sailing ship, built in Maine two years before, and carrying a cargo including wool and skins. But it also carried 2576 ounces (73kg) of gold, probably in bars and sovereigns.

    And on top of that, many of the passengers were miners returning home with small fortunes in gold, scraped and scrabbled from the unforgiving earth of Victoria’s goldfields. On the evening of May 13, 10 days after setting sail, the General Grant’s captain was alarmed to hear a cry from the masthead that land had been sighted dead ahead, and altered course.

    Half an hour later came the same chilling cry.

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  • Treasures from ancient shipwrecks

    Israel Antiquities Authority

    From Heritage Daily

    Underwater archaeologists from the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) have recovered treasures from the survey of two shipwrecks off the coast of Caesarea in Israel.

    The survey was conducted by the IAA’s Marine Archaeology Unit, which found the remains of two wrecked hulls and cargoes scattered in shallow depths of around 4 metres along the sea floor.

    A spokesperson for the IAA said: “The ships were probably anchored nearby and were wrecked by a storm. They may have been anchored offshore after getting into difficulty or fearing stormy weather, because shallow open water outside of a port is dangerous and prone to disaster.”

    The shipwrecks date from the Roman and Mamluk periods some 1700 and 600 years ago, in which the researchers recovered a range of artefacts and rare personal items of the shipwrecked victims.

    The team found hundreds of silver and bronze Roman coins from the mid-third century AD and a large hoard of 14th century silver coins from the Mamluk period, including a large amount of smaller ribbon cut like pieces.

    Other finds include a bronze figurine in the form of an eagle, a figurine of a Roman pantomimus, bronze bells, pottery vessels, an inkwell and numerous metal items from the hull of the ship such as bronze nails, lead pipes from a bilge pump, and pieces of a large iron anchor.

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  • Ex-treasure hunter, Tommy Thompson, remains jailed

    Tommy Thompson holds a $50 pioneer gold piece retrieved earlier in 1989 from the wreck of the gold ship SS Central America

    From CBS News

    A former deep-sea treasure hunter is preparing to mark his sixth year in jail for refusing to disclose the whereabouts of 500 missing coins made from gold found in an historic shipwreck. Research scientist Tommy Thompson has been held in contempt of court since Dec. 15, 2015, for that refusal.

    He is also incurring a daily fine of $1,000. Thompson's case dates to his discovery of the S.S. Central America, known as the Ship of Gold, in 1988. The gold rush-era ship sank in a hurricane off South Carolina in 1857 with thousands of pounds of gold aboard, contributing to an economic panic.

    Despite an investors lawsuit and a federal court order, Thompson, 69, still won't cooperate with authorities trying to find those coins, according to court records, federal prosecutors and the judge who found Thompson in contempt.

    Thompson says he's already said everything he knows about the coins. Thompson pleaded guilty in April 2015 for his failure to appear for a 2012 hearing and was sentenced to two years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

    But Thompson's criminal sentence has been delayed until the issue of the gold coins is resolved. After a federal judge ordered Thompson in 2012 to appear in court to disclose the coins' whereabouts, Thompson fled to Florida where he lived with his longtime female companion at a hotel where he was living near Boca Raton.

    U.S. marshals tracked him down and arrested him in early 2015. Federal law generally limits jail time for contempt of court to 18 months. But a federal appeals court in 2019 rejected Thompson's argument that that law applies to him, saying his refusal violates conditions of a plea agreement.

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