Cruise Ship Safety - Sunken Ships

Things you need to know about cruise ship safety before you leave port

Tropical Weather

Atlantic

ALL CLEAR for cruisers

 

Eastern Pacific

ALL CLEAR for cruisers

 advice > safety > Sunken Ships 2
 

Cruise Ship Incidents from 2002 - Current

A list of sunken ships between 1980 - 2001

MV El Faro (2015)
MV Eastern Star (2015)
MV Sewol (2014)
HMS Bounty (2012)
MV Shariatpur-1 (2012)
MV Rabaul Queen (2012)
Costa Concordia (2012)
SV Concordia (2010)
Ocean Lark (2010)
Danny F II (2009)
Ilinden (2009)
Super Ferry 9 (2009)
Teratai Prima (2009)


Suwa Maru No. 58 (2008)
MV Princess of the Stars (2008)
Alaska Ranger (2008)
MV Explorer (2007)
Sea Diamond (2007)
Wilderness Adventure ( 2004)
Safari Spirit (2003)
Terra Australis (2002)
MS Windsong (2002)
FV = fishing vessel
MV = motor vessel
RMS = royal mail ship
RV = research vessel
SS = steam ship
SV = sailing vessel
 

Watch the NOVA Video --
Why Ships Sink
-- at: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/tech/why-ships-sink.html

2015 Cruise Ship Incidents

MV El Faro

Date: October 1, 2015
Ship: MV El Faro
Where: In the Atlantic Ocean near Crooked Island, Bahamas
Incident: The cargo ship El Faro, a 90-foot (241 m) cargo ship with 28 U.S. citizens and five Polish nationals aboard sank near Crooked Island, located in the central Bahamas during Hurricane Joaquin, a Category 4 storm on the Saffir-Simpson Scale. The ship's Captain reported the ship lost propulsion and was taking on water during high winds and heavy seas. El Faro was sailing to Puerto Rico from it's home port of Jacksonville, Fl when all transmissions ceased on Thursday morning, October 1st. During the five-day search and rescue, the USCG recovered a survival suit with human remains, and scattered debris from the ship including a damaged life boat and life rafts. In its last logged location, the ship was less than 50 miles from the eye of the hurricane and had slowed down to 10.7 knots. The hurricane had winds of about 140 mph and waves topping 50 feet. The ship sank in 15,000 ft. of water.

 

MV Eastern Star

Date: May 1, 2015
Ship: MV Eastern Star
Where: About 110 miles west of the Hubel provincial capital of Wuhan, China.
Incident: The cruise ship Eastern Star, a 251 ft. long river cruiser carrying 458 people capsized in China's  Yangtze River. At least 406 passengers, five travel agency staff, along with 47 crew members were onboard at the time the ship sank on Monday. The ship was sailing from Nanjing to Chongqing on a leisure cruise. According to the Xinhua News Agency, the captain and chief engineer said the ship sank quickly after being caught in a cyclone. The search for victims continues. 12 survivors rescued at the time of this writing (6/1/15)  and five known fatalities. Many of the missing are feared dead. Update: 6/6/2015 - Disaster teams used cranes to lift the ship out of the water. Recovery teams found 396 victims on the ship, while search crews look for 46 people still missing. 14 people, including the captain and engineer, survived the disaster. 

2014 Cruise Ship Incidents

MV Sewol

Date: April  14, 2014
Ship: MV Sewol
Where: 1.7 miles off Gwanmae Island, South Korea
Incident: The South Korean ferry capsized while carrying 476 people, mostly secondary students on a field trip. As of May 6, 2014, 264 are confirmed dead, and 38 people are still missing. Preliminary reports suggest the ferry made a sharp turn causing cargo to shift. Overloading and the lack of proper securing of the cargo are also being seen as direct causes The incident is still under investigation. 22 of 29 crew members survived - including the Captain.

2012 Cruise Ship Incidents

HMS Bounty

Date: March 29, 2012
Ship: HMS Bounty
Where: In the Atlantic Ocean about 90 miles SE of Cape Hatteras, NC
Incident: The 3 mast, 180 ft., 412 grt. sailing ship sank while en-route to St. Petersburg, Florida after being caught-up in Hurricane Sandy.
The HMS Bounty, a replica ship built for the movie, "Mutiny on the Bounty" (1931-1962) left Connecticut on Thursday, October 25, 2012, as Sandy was spinning near Cuba.
According to reports, the Bounty crew maintained contact with the National Weather Service and the Coast Guard during the storm. On Monday, October 29 at approximately 6:30 a.m. EDT, the crew were forced to abandon ship after the vessel began to take on water. 16 crew donned survival suits  - 14 crew members made it safely to the life rafts. Two crew members were unable to secure themselves on the raft and were lost at sea. The body of one crew member was recovered by the US Coast Guard. One member (the Captain) remains missing. (Photo US Coast Guard)
Disposition: The HMS Bounty sank in 16 ft. seas. 14 rescued, 1 confirmed dead, and 1 missing. For more about this story, please click on the link to read the U.S. Coast Guard Blog.

 

MV Shariatpur-1 Passenger Ferry

Date: March 12, 2012
Vessels: MV Shariatpur-1
Where: Meghna River south of Dhaka Bangledesh
Incident: The Ferry collided with a  cargo boat and capsized with about 200 passengers aboard. 70 passengers were reported to have been rescued. 112 fatalities, and a number of passengers are still missing.

 

MV Rabaul Queen

Date: February 2, 2012 
Ship: MV Rabul Queen
Where
: 9 nautical miles off Finschhafen, on her way from Kimbe to Lae, off Papua New Guinea's east coast.
Incident: The 22 year-old Japanese-built ferry sank off the coast of New Guinea with approximately 350 passengers and 12 crew aboard.
Disposition:  238 rescued, 121 know missing

 

Costa Concordia

Date: January 13, 2012
Ship: Costa Concordia
Where: Isola del Giglio, Italy
Incident: The ship hit a reef and grounded just off the coast. The accident caused a  reported 150 ft. gash in hull - see video and related story below.
Disposition: The ship is scheduled for removal from the Italian coast in December 2013.
Full Investigation Report (PDF)

 

Update: Posted May 18, 2012

The plan to refloat the hull in one piece gives top priority to minimizing environmental
impact, protecting Giglio’s economy and tourism industry, and maximizing safety according to a statement released today by Costa Cruises.

Once removal is complete, the sea bottom will be cleaned and marine flora replanted.
The plan also includes measures to safeguard Isola del Giglio’s tourism industry and
wider economy. Salvage workers’ presence will not have a significant impact on the
availability of hotel accommodations for the island’s summer season. The operating
base will be located on the mainland near Piombino, where equipment and materials
will be stored, avoiding impact on the island’s port activities.

Operations will be divided into four basic stages:
● After stabilizing the ship, a subsea platform will be built and caissons that can be
filled with water will be fixed to the side of the ship that is out of the water
● Two cranes fixed to the platform will pull the ship upright, helped by the caissons,
which will be filled with water
● When the ship is upright, caissons will also be fixed to the other side of the hull
● The caissons on both sides will then be emptied, after treating and purifying the
water to protect the marine environment, and filled with air.

Once floated, the wreck will be towed to an Italian port and dealt with in accordance with
the requirements of Italian authorities.

The plan was selected by an evaluation team with specialist representatives from Costa
Crociere, Carnival Corporation & plc, London Offshore Consultants and Standard P&I
Club, with the collaboration of RINA and Fincantieri, because it best fulfills the main
objectives of the operation — removal of the wreck in one piece, minimal risk, minimal
environmental impact, protection of Giglio’s economy and tourism industry, and
maximum safety.

Update: Posted April 22, 2012

Costa Crociere and the Costa Concordia Emergency Commissioner's Office announced on Friday that the contract for the removal of the ship from Giglio Island has been awarded to Titan Salvage (American company) in partnership with the Italian firm Micoperi. According to the proposal, the wreck will be moved in one piece. The work is scheduled to begin in early May subject to final approval from the Italian authorities and is expected to take about 12 months.

The proposal specifies the wreck will be removed with minimal risk to the environment, the community of Giglio and the salvage workers. “As was the case with the removal of the fuel, we have sought to identify the best solution to safeguard the island and its marine environment and to protect its tourism said Costa Crociere S.p.A. Chairman & CEO Pier Luigi Foschi.”

The plan also includes measures to safeguard the island of Giglio's tourism and wider economy. The main operating base will be located on the mainland at nearby Civitavecchia, where equipment and materials will be stored, thereby avoiding any impact on Giglio's port activities.

Once floated, the wreck will be towed to an Italian port and dealt with in accordance with the requirements of the Italian authorities.

Fuel and other environmentally harmful products must be removed before the ship can be salvaged - the process could take a year to complete. No decision on how to remove the ship has been made. Costa is working with a team of experts to determine the best way to remove the ship off the Italian coastline. In February, Costa Cruises called on salvage companies to submit ideas and bids for removal. Costa received bids for hull removal until March 3, and on March 9 announced six proposals have been received and are under review.

Just days after making an emergency stop in the port of Marseille for minor repairs as reported in Direct Marseille Plus, the Costa Concordia ran aground on a reef at around 9 pm local time (UTC+1) off , having left Civitavecchia earlier that evening at the start of a seven-day cruise to Savona, Marseilles, Barcelona, Palma, Tunis, and Palermo.

Location of Costa Concordia cruise-ship disaster
42°21′53″N 10°55′16″E / 42.36486°N 10.92124°E / 42.36486; 10.92124

At about 8 pm, passengers were in the dining hall when there was a sudden, loud bang, which a crew member (speaking over the intercom) ascribed to an "electrical failure". Passengers were later advised to put on their life-jackets. The ship tilted some 20 degrees. Amid panic, many passengers took to lifeboats, while some jumped into the water to swim to shore. Three passengers reportedly drowned after jumping overboard, and another seven were critically injured. According to the local coastguard, 3,206 passengers and 1,023 crew members were on board at the time.

The crew remained aboard and the shipping line initially insisted there was no danger of sinking. The first daylight pictures showed the ship lying on its right side and half submerged, not far outside Giglio Harbour. Other reports indicated the ship had developed a major electrical fault. According to the local coast guard, the ship has more than a 100 ft. gash on its port side. The Daily Mail showed images of a large gash.

2011 Incidents

No incidents to to report

 

2010 Incidents

SV Concordia (3-mast sailboat) built in 1992

February 17

The Concordia, a floating classroom operated by Nova Scotia-based West Island College International for grade 11, 12 and first-year-old college students sank after a suspected  microburst (a sudden vertical downdraft of wind) caused the ship to capsize about 300 miles off the coast of Brazil.  The vessel was knocked onto its side within 15 seconds  and eventually sank 20 minutes afterward. All on board successfully abandoned ship. As the capsizing was so fast, no radio distress call was made but a distress radiobeacon was activated when the vessel sank. The survivors spent nearly 30 hours in life-rafts before the aircraft spotted them.  48 students and 16 crew members were onboard. No fatalities.

Tugboat Ocean Lark

January 6

Capsized while heading to Indonesia when the incident happened. Two crew members were rescued by a passing Singapore supply vessel some 16 nautical miles east of Horsburgh Lighthouse. 7 fatalities, 5 people missing.

Back to the top

2009 Incidents

Ferry Sinking in Manila Bay, Philippines

December

A wooden-hulled passenger ferry collided with a fishing boat - carrying at least 73 people between them. The ferry sank not long after the collision. The fishing boat was able to stay afloat and limp back to port. There were 4 fatalities and another 23 missing. 46 people were rescued.

Danny F II sank (11 miles) off the northern Lebanese port of Tripoli.

December

A cargo ship carrying more than 80 people and livestock capsized due to bad weather. The ship sank in the Mediterranean Sea off Lebanon, 11 nautical miles (20 km) from Tripoli. Rescue efforts were hampered by poor weather conditions, high waves and floating carcasses from the ship's livestock cargo.  Thirty-nine people were rescued and nine bodies recovered. 26 people were unaccounted for and presumed dead.

Ilinden Sightseeing Boat - Ohrid Lake Macedonia

September 5

The boat was reported to have broke in half with 55 passengers onboard (capacity: 42) and two crew members. The boat sank in 20 feet of water after what the captain described was a loud "crack" sound toward the rear of the boat. (15 fatalities)

Super Ferry 9 Passenger Transport - Philippines

August 31

The y was said to be carrying 847 passengers and 117 crew plus four sea marshals on its journey from General Santos to Iloilo. According to a statement posted on the company website, the ferry began listing to the right (starboard) side on Sunday 8-31-09. The captain tried to correct the list but found conditions to be irreversible and ordered the ship abandoned.  5 fatalities and 60 people are still unaccounted for as of Sept 6.

Teratai Prima Ferry

January

Sank en route to , on the Indonesian half of Borneo. The Ferry was carrying more than 250 people when the vessel capsized in stormy seas in central Indonesia. Eighteen survivors were rescued by passing fishing boats.

Back to the top

2008 Incidents

The Suwa Maru No. 58

June 23,  2008

A fishing boat with 20 crew members, sank in seemingly moderate sea conditions of Cape Inubosaki, Japan.  Reports from the investigators indicated that although reported wave heights were between 2 and 3 meters (6.5 and 9.8 feet), the ship may have encountered abnormal waves twice, sinking the ship about 10 minutes after being hit by the initial wave.

MV Princess of the Stars (Ferry)

June 21, 2008

A Ferry owned by Filipino shipping company Sulpicio Lines, capsized off the coast of San Fernando, Romblon at the height of Typhoon Fengshen. Fengshen passed directly over Romblon as a Category 2 storm. Built in 1984, the 23,824-ton ferry MV Princess of the Stars had a total passenger capacity of 1,992 people. 860 were on board as the ferry capsized (751 passengers, 111 crew). A week after the ferry disaster, more than 100 passengers had been confirmed dead, with 500 still missing. There were 32 confirmed survivors.

Alaska Ranger U.S. Fish Processing Vessel - Bering Sea

March 23, 2008

The Alaska Ranger had left Dutch Harbor the previous day to fish on Petrel Bank, a fishing ground 500 nautical miles to the west. About 0230 on the morning of March 23, the crew discovered flooding in the vessel’s rudder room, and at 0246, the vessel broadcast a Mayday call. The U.S. Coast Guard immediately launched search and rescue operations. The crew evacuated the vessel before it sank sometime after 0430. The Coast Guard and the crew of another fishing vessel, the Alaska Warrior, rescued 42 of the 47 persons who had been on the Alaska Ranger. Five crewmembers died in the accident. The wreckage of the Alaska Ranger lies in 6,000 feet of water at the bottom of the Bering Sea and was not examined. The vessel’s estimated replacement value was $15 million.  Full NTSB Report (PDF)

Back to the top

2007 Incidents

MV Explorer (GAP Adventures)

The MV Explorer sank near Antarctica's South Shetland Islands after hitting an iceberg. 91 passengers and 54 crew abandoned ship safely and were rescued by the Norwegian Liner, Nordnorge. The ship sank less than twenty-four hours after the accident.

Sea Diamond (Louis Cruises)

The ship hit a reef in a lagoon a half mile from shore near the main port of Santorini. Two passengers reported missing; they have never been found and are presumed dead. The ship was towed off the rocks and subsequently sank taking on too much water. 

Back to the top

2004 Incidents

Wilderness Adventurer (Glacier Bay Cruise Line)

Struck ice in Tracy Arm in southeastern Alaska. This ship began to take on water but didn't completely sink before it was salvaged - no fatalities.

Back to the top

2003 Incidents

Safari Spirit (American Safari Cruises)

The ship grounded on rocks north of Vancouver at Kisameet Bay off Fisher Channel, about 20 miles southeast of the towns of Bella Bella and Shearwater, Denny Island, British Columbia, Canada (May 2). The uninspected U.S. passenger vessel Safari Spirit, owned and operated by American Safari Cruises, left Seattle, Washington, en route to Juneau, Alaska with 6 crewmembers and 10 passengers on board.  The ship sank in about 30ft of water - no fatalities. Read the full NTSB Report.

Back to the top

2002 Incidents

Terra Australis (Crusceros Australis)

Sank off  the coast of Chile following a fire that began in the engine room and spread throughout the ship.  No passengers were onboard but 1 crew member died of smoke inhalation.

MS Windsong (Windstar)

The ms Wind Song was a masted sailing yacht used as a cruise ship by Windstar Cruises from 1987 until 2002, when the ship suffered a devastating fire. The Wind Song was one of an unusual class of vessels, designed as a modern cruise ship but carrying an elaborate system of computer-controlled sails on four masts. The ship's usual itinerary was an inter-island cruise in French Polynesia.

On December 1, 2002, an engine room fire forced evacuation of 127 passengers and 92 crewmembers to Raiataea, a nearby island. The French Navy put out the fire and towed the ship to Papeete, where examination showed extensive damage to engineering spaces, although the passenger areas were mostly intact. Subsequently the Navy demanded compensation for its services, and French Polynesian government seized the Wind Song. However, the Carnival Corporation (owner of Windstar Cruises at the time) was unwilling to pay the costs involved, and even scrapping was uneconomical, because of the ship's small size and remoteness from shipbreakers in India, China, and elsewhere. Carnival denied access to the vessel by any investigators other than the corporation's own and claimed that the cause of the fire was unknown.

On January 22, with the agreement of Carnival, the President of the Territorial Government of French Polynesia, Gaston Flosse, ordered the scuttling of the Wind Song. That night the ship was towed into the Sea of the Moon between Tahiti and Moorea and sunk in 9,843 feet of water, at latitude 17.45S, longitude 149.48W. 

Back to the top

 

A list of sunken ships between 1980 - 2001

 

Related Links

Tropical Cyclones
Weather Updates
Travel Warnings
Safety Overview
Cruise Ship Fires
Sunken Passenger Ships
Sudden Lists/Rogue Waves
Unclassified Incidents
Incidents 2012
Incidents 2013
Incidents 2014