Rainbow Warrior

10 extraordinary modern shipwrecks


From Top Online Colleges

Shipwrecks aren't really considered a modern problem. Air transportation, which is obviously much more efficient, supplanted ocean liners decades ago, causing the romanticism that came with setting out on long overseas journeys to fade.

Even still, ships remain a large part of worldwide commerce and transportation, the latter of which is more common in poor countries, where unfortunate accidents are more frequent.

The following shipwrecks range from small-scale tragedies to unforgettable catastrophes, capturing headlines worldwide when they occurred. 

1 - USCGC White Alder (1968):

Longtime residents of New Orleans still discuss the plight of the White Alder, a former Navy YF-257-class lighter assigned to tend river aids-to-navigation and various other Coast Guard duties.

The ship met its demise in the early evening of December, when it collided with a 455-foot Taiwanese freighter in the Mississippi River near White Castle, Louisiana, killing 17 of the 20 crew members. Just three of the dead were recovered due to the thick river sediment that quickly buried the cutter. More than 40 years later, 14 crewmen remain at the bottom of the Mississippi.

2 - SS Edmund Fitzgerald (1977):

Perhaps America's most famous modern shipwreck, the Edmund Fitzgerald is still a fresh wound for the families of the 29 crew members who perished that night. When it was launched, it was the biggest ship on the Great Lakes, and its large hauls made it extremely valuable during its 17-year run.

En route to a steel mill near Detroit from Superior, Wisconsin, the freighter encountered a winter storm with hurricane-force winds that created 35-foot waves. With a bad list, broken radars and water engulfing the deck, it sank 17 miles from Whitefish Bay. No distress signals were sent out, and Captain Ernest McSorley, who planned to retire at the end of shipping season, last reported "We are holding our own."

3) Rainbow Warrior (1985):

A former UK Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food trawler, the Rainbow Warrior was operated by Greenpeace to curtail whaling, seal hunting and nuclear testing, most notably evacuating 300 Marshall Islanders from Rongelap Atoll, a former US nuclear testing area. Docked in a harbor in New Zealand, it suffered two large, crippling explosions that sent it under water — photographer Fernando Pereira was killed when he returned to the ship to collect his equipment as the second explosion occurred.

Two French secret service agents were arrested, and the nation denied involvement until a British newspaper revealed French President Francois Mitterrand authorized the plan. The scandal resulted in several high-profile resignations in the French government.

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