There’s something about abandoned ships that really just draws me in. It’s mesmerizing to me how something so massive can be frozen in time.
I’ve put together my top list of abandoned ships around the world, that if I could I would go to in a heartbeat.
We’re going to explore 21 abandoned ships around the world that are still above water. This means they’re either still floating, or are marooned ashore. So if you wanted, you could visit them yourself!
1. Cincinnati Ghost Ship (Circle Line V)
This 100+ year old ghost ship sit wedged in a muddy creek just outside of the Ohio river. The “ghost ship”, formally know as the Circle Line V had led a full life of service before it was left abandoned.
The ship was built in 1902 to serve as a luxury yacht for a wealthy railroad executive. However, the party didn’t last long. In 1917 the ship was drafted into WW1 and renamed to the USS Sachem. It should go on to serve in WWII as well.
The ship changed hands many times after being decommissioned by the navy. It’s last job would be a tour boat, ferrying people in and around the New York harbor.
The last captain, Robert Miller decided to take it back home to dock at one of his properties. It sat and sat, and as time went on it slowly began to sink into the creek behind his house.
2. Kiptopeke Concrete Ships
9 crumbling ghost ships sit silently in the Chesapeake bay just off the coast of Kiptopeke State park. It’s quite odd to see these concrete military ships starting back at you as you walk along the beach.
So where did they come from?
Like most concrete ships, these vessels were constructed during WWII. Concrete was used in lieu of steel due to the metal being in such short supply. Believe it or, concrete float just as well if not better than steel!
The Kiptopeke concrete ships weight in around 5,000 tons each and are roughly 120 yards long. As the war came to end these concrete ships were stored away in military bases across the country.
Eventually these ship would come out of retirement to fight a new enemy.
The Virginia Ferry Cooperation needed a breakwater to protect their new pier from harsh weather and waves. Lucky for them the government had all the boats they needed stationed over in Norfolk.
Shortly thereafter they were towed just a quarter mile from the coast and parked.
They haven’t moved since.
If you’re up for a tip, you can actually rent a canoe right at the state park and paddle right up to one of the ships.
3. Mary D. Hume Shipwreck
Just off the Oregon cost this 19th century steam ship sits idly by as it rusts away.
The Hume was merchant ship, hauling cargo from Oregon to San Fransisco in it’s early years, and even served as a whale hunting vessel in the cold Alaskan waters.
After sinking in the ice and three new engines later, the Hume was ready to retire in 1977.
While trying to maintain and preserve the ship for a museum piece, a malfunction caused her to fall off the sling and into the mud on Gold Beach.
A second attempt was made later in 1985 to repair her, but another accident led to her sinking. There were attempted fundraisers to help restore the ship to it’s former glory but all fell short.
The Hume is now just another abandoned ship at sea. Luckily, it’s easy to visit and even recognized on the National Registrar Of Historical Places.
4. Wreck Of The Peter Iredale
The wreck of the Peter Iredale is also right on the Oregon coastline which is famous for it’s turbulent seas and deadly waves. This merchant class ship was built in 1890 all the way in Maryport, England.
The ship ran aground on a foggy night in 1906 as captain H. Lawrence recalls..
A heavy southeast wind blew and a strong current prevailed. Before the vessel could be veered around, she was in the breakers and all efforts to keep her off were unavailing.H. Lawrence, Captain Of The Peter Iredale 1906
The Iredale slammed into Clatsop Beach snapping three of it’s masts. Luckily all crew and the captain were uninjured. They signaled for help and were rescued shortly by the nearby lifesaving station at Point Adams.
I actually got to see what’s left of the wreck in person when I was in Oregon. It’s quite the sight and I would definitely check it out. My girlfriend and I had went to Voodoo donuts and had a mini picnic near the ship. Just be sure to bring a jacket, as it can get cold quickly with the harsh winds.
5. Wreck of Francisco Morazan
Right off southwest end of Manitou Island is the rusted remains of the Francisco Morazan.
In 1960 the steel hulled freighter was on a voyage to set sail from Chicago, all the way to the Netherlands. Unfortunately, this would prove to be the vessels last trip.
On November 28th 1960 the freighter was pummeled with snowy winds reaching up to 40 miles-per-hour. The ship fought hard, but not hard enough.
The Francisco Morazan eventually ran aground, stranding the captain, his family, and the 14 person crew. Thankfully rescuers were able to get everyone off board safely.
The ship is now explored by divers and boaters alike. You can even catch a ferry from Leland, Michigan that will take you to the South Manitou Island.
6. Homebush Bay Shipwrecks
Homebush bay is home to a number of abandoned ships at sea, where both the SS Ayrfield and the SS Mortlake find themselves permanently anchored.
The SS Ayrfield is by far the most impressive of the two, as nature creeped it’s way onboard and turned it into miniature forest.
Homebush bay used to serve as a ship-breaking yard, and these old ships are the remnants. It’s a bit odd to see some many ghostly ships perched out in the harbor surrounded my towering condos and shopping malls.
7. S.S. Maheno Shipwreck
The SS Maheno launched 1905 and was one of the most cutting edge ocean liners of it’s time. She could hold a little under 900 passengers and was built with a refrigerated cargo hold, smoking room, and all of the latest electric powered safety equipment.
After serving as luxury ocean transport, the Maheno was converted into a hospital ship during WWI. The opulent dining halls and smoking rooms were transformed into hospital wards and operating rooms as it began it’s journey into battle.
After many voyages transporting wounded soldiers to and from the front lines, the Maheno was eventually retired of military service and returned to the owner to get back into commercial business.
On July 3rd 1935, while being towed to harbor for retirement, the Maheno’s tow line snapped loose during a storm. The ship helplessly drifted off into the sea with 8 crew members on board.
The crew was helpless as the propellers on the Maheno had been removed prior to the towing. After 7 days of searching, aircraft pilot Keith Virtue spotted the wrecked shipped and it’s crew off the coast of Fraser Island.
The boat has remained wedged in the sand, eroding away ever since.
8. MV Assalama Shipwreck
This is one of my favorite abandoned ships at sea because much of it is still left intact. I’d imagine if a ship really was floating around for 20 years, this is what it would look like when it returned.
The Assalama is a more recent shipwreck and was only lost in 2008. The accident happened when the ship struck a dock in Tarfaya.
The ship ran aground and was stranded 5 miles off the Moroccan coastline with 113 passengers.
Everyone was safely evacuated however the behemoth ship is now destined for a watery grave with no one to rescue it.
9. MV Captayannis AKA “The Sugar Boat”
The Captayannis is not only fun to say out loud
The vessel was a Greek sugar carrying ship that would meet an untimely end on a stormy January night.
The year was 1974 and the Captayannis was en route to deliver a shipment of sugar to a small town in Scotland.
As the Captayannis was anchored
Having little time, the captain opted to
The captain and crew
Now, the capsized ship is visible from the coastline and is home to birds as well as other sea animals.
10. La Famille Express
This abandoned ship at sea sits against a beautiful Caribbean background just a few miles from the Turks and Caicos islands. But this ship wasn’t always sailing in paradise.
This vessel was actually constructed half a world away in 1952 at the Caspian Sea. Like most abandoned ships around the world it has had a few names in it’s lifespan.
Originally named Форт-Шевченко, or Fort Shevchenko in English this ship’s job was to transport supplies to and from remote oil rigs for the Soviet Union.
After changing hands a few times, the ship was renamed La Famille and eventually found it’s way to port right off the coast of Caico.
In 2004 hurricane Frances slammed the anchored ship so hard, that it moved the ship near 12 miles from it’s port in South Bank on the Providenciales.
The ship sit abandoned and contrasts against the tropical islands. Divers and boaters use her old rusty remains as a landmark and place to explore.
The ship is out too far to wade to, but accessible by jet ski or small boat.
11. Wreck of Eduard Bohlen
There’s a place called the Skeletal Coast, where an unforgiving sea meets an endless vastness of desert. Of all the abandoned ships around the world, this somehow found itself in the middle of the desert..
This is one of the most inhospitable environments on the planet, and probably one of the last places you would want to crash your ship. But that’s exactly where the Eduard Bohlen ended up.
On September 5th 1909 the Eduard Bohlen got disoriented in a thick blanket of fog and slammed into Namibian coastline stranding the captain and his crew.
Luckily the only casualty was the ship itself.
Mysteriously enough, if you visit the ship today it’s nearly 500 meters from the shoreline, making it look as it was sailing through the dunes of sand itself.
12. HMVS Cerberus Shipwreck
This was a beast, and truly lived up to it’s name. Built back in 1870, this ship spent most of it’s time protecting the coastal city of Melbourne from invaders.
During her military career she served as a monitor ship in WWI and later as a supply vessel to help aid submarines and other nearby ships.
Although the ship never fired in battle, or left it’s home port, the Cerberus was still a vital part in keeping Australia’s coastline safe during times of both war, and peace.
The ship was eventually retried and scrapped out. It’s hull was towed out near Black Rock and has never stayed there ever since.
13. Wreck Of The SS Kakapo
The SS Kakapo is just one hundreds of downed vessels that dot the
There are many abandoned ships at sea, but this wreck made it pretty far into the coastline compared to the other wrecks across the continent.
The Kakapo’s last voyage took place on May 25th, 1900. The ship and its hull full of coal crashed into the Long Beach peninsula. It’s unclear exactly what happened, but I’m sure the environment played a huge role in the accident.
Much of the wreck is submerged in sand, but still visible on the beach. Its ribs and rudders jut out from the sand like a partiality unearthed prehistoric beast.
You can venture to the SS Kakapo yourself, it’s just a short 40 minutes walk from the nearest parking lot.
14. The Wreck Of The Steam Trawler Sheraton
At the foot of some unassuming cliffs in West Norfolk rests what once was a mighty steamship. It’s hard to even imagine what this hunk of scrap metal even looked like in
The Sheraton was ‘born’ in 1907 and set out to join other successful steamships in fishing ventures around its home port.
But with the rising threat of the Nazi Riech on the horizion the Sheraton was quickly destined for a new career.
In 1914 she joined over 800 vessels to sweep for mines and spot submarines. Sheraton never hit any, and continued on to be of service until 1916 when it was reaquisitioned again.
As a thank you to the Sheraton’s excellent service, the Royal Navy stripped her down of all her valuables and then gave her a fresh coat of bright yellow paint for her new, and final job… As a target boat.
She was anchored off in the waters of Brest Sand, awaiting her fate until she decided to escape during a stormy night..
April 24th 1947 severe gales causes the Sheraton to break free and eventually wash into the beach at Old Hunstanton where she remains to this day.
15. The Wreck of the E.C. Waters
This is a story about capitalism., greed, and a disregarding for natural land. And like many shipwrecks this one has an interesting story..
A little over 100 years ago a businessman by the name of, yep you guessed it, E.C Waters didn’t just want one massive boat in the Yellowstone Lake, he wanted two.
Waters had a successful business ferrying people around and wanted to add another ship to his fleet. However, he always found himself clashing heads with park officials.
In 1905 Water had spent $60,000 dollars constructing the floating ode himself. This would be the largest boat to ever float in Yellowstone.
By then park officials were sick of Mr. Waters antics, and were plotting to attract to find another ferry business to replace him.
That didn’t go over so well with Mr. Waters. And after much fighting and complaining he was finally banned from the park itself.
Notice! E.C. Waters, president of the Yellowstone Lake Boat Company, having rendered himself obnoxious during the season of 1907, is … debarred from the park and will not be allowed to return without permission in writing from the Secretary of the Interior or the superintendent of the park.Superintendent Samuel Young 1907
The park and Waters were locked in a legal battle for years, as the ship just sat in the lake. After a tough winter the ship eventually got loose and it docked itself on the island where it still sits today.
16. Dimitrios Shipwreck
Off the picturesque coast of Valtaki, Greece the Dimitrios rests along side the beach for what looks like the foreseeable future.
This ship has an air of mystery that has surrounded it ever since it beached itself on the coastline.
Rumor has it that this 220 foot ship was used as a smugglers ship, transporting thousands of cigarettes from Turkey to Italy and then eventually set on fire and set out to sea to destroy the evidence.
But as it turns out, the truth it actually a lot less fascinating.
According to one of the coast guards, in 1981 the Dimitrios was moved to an anchorage outside of it’s port due to safety concerns. A storm rolled in and eventually drug the ship and it’s anchor two miles until it finally stranded itself on the Valtaki coastline.
The owners made no effort to recover her.
17. BOS 400 Shipwreck
This massive shipwrecked oil rig is hidden right off the coast of Sandy Bay Cape Town in South Africa. Even many of the local don’t know it exists.
This is one of the most unique abandoned ships around the world, and may be the only abandoned crane barge above water.
BOS 400 was a crane barge that crashed into the coastline in 1944. A little Russian tugboat was tasked with towing it across the notoriously unforgiving African gulf.
Harsh weather rolled in and the tow line snapped in half, send the entire crane straight into Sandy Bay.
Due to the amount of damage done, the crane was chalked up as a total loss and left to rust in the cold Atlantic water.
It’s a bit of a hike, but definitely worth it. The brave can climb aboard and explore the rusted top part of the crane. While the smarter ones can admire it’s magnitude from rocks below.
18. MV E Evangelia Shipwreck
Stranded out in the Black Sea off the coast of Romania the Evangelia wastes away slowly falling into the ocean.
This massive 430 foot long cargo ship was built in 1942 and had a number of odd jobs. During WWII she transported cargo as well as frozen meats across the Pacific Ocean and continued to leverage her refrigerated cargo hold all through 1944.
The Evangelia’s demise has been shrouded in suspicion ever since the accident. On October 15th, 1968 the ship ran aground in the shallow waters just off the coast of Costinesti beach.
Many think due to the nature of the wreck that is was crashed intentionally for collect insurance money.
You can easily canoe right up to the ship. The ship is nearly broken in half along the hull and backside but much of it remains intact.
19. Cabo Santa Maria Shipwreck
On the tropical island of Boa Vista lies the remains of a Spanish cargo ship that crashed ashore in 1968. It’s skeleton still remains after all these years, but is slow fading with time. Like most abandoned ships around the world it soon will be washed away back into the ocean.
When the Santa Maria crashed it was full of expensive cargo. Cars, gifts, china and clothing were en route from Brazil destined to Argentina.
Tugboats tried and tried but ultimately failed as they tried to pull her back to sea.
As the water began to fill the ships, the precious cargo needed to be saved quickly. People and even donkeys from the island rallied to ship helping unload the cargo and move it to the city to continue it’s journey.
Unload the ship of all it’s goods took nearly a year.
50 years years later, much of the deck and hold have disintegrated, so if you want to see the Santa Maria in person, you better go now!
20. Powell River Breakwall
Located in British Columbia the Powell River Breakwall consists of 10 concrete ships that served in WWI and WWII. The breakwall was created to protect the logging pond and paper mill just off the shore of the river.
Over the years the concrete ships have lasted surprisingly well. A decision was made recently to move the ships and sink them to create an artificial reef for divers.
Those plans are still pending, but if you find yourself in the area be sure to check them out for yourself.
21. World Discoverer Shipwreck
And last but certainly not least, one of my top favorite abandoned ships around the world, the World Discover. There’s just this sense of eerie wonder when you see a massive cruise ship abandoned on a dense jungle island.
The World Discoverer was built in 1974 to lead smaller expeditions where traditional large cruise ships couldn’t get to. It had a reinforced ice breaking haul meaning that it could traverse anywhere in the world, even the arctic circle.
The ship itself wasn’t necessarily opulent, but those onboard cared more about the destination than the amenities on board. The World Discoverer had an observation deck, medical center, and even a dingy launch that could take people out to smaller islands for exploration.
The World Discoverer took it’s final voyage on April 30th, 2000 when the ship struck a large uncharted reef outside of the Salomon islands.
The captain knew the hull was breached and taking on water fast. He signaled a distress a call and began to attempt to save the ship.
The captain took the ship and intentionally grounded it at Roderick Bay. All the passengers were safely evacuated as rescue teams arrived. The ship itself began to list at 20 degrees and take in more water. Eventually the weight of all the water tipped her further on her side.
A structural evaluation of the ship deemed the World Discoverer a total loss.
A salvage operation was attempted in 2000 but aborted due to the local tribe firing shots at the salvagers.
It’s unlikely the World Discoverer will ever move from it’s jungle laden grave. Due to it’s positioning it’s likely to remain intact for the next 50-100 years.
Ready to explore all of the these abandoned ships for yourself? Head over to our list of best exploration gear before you go!