Death comes in myriad ways to both men and ships. Some ships meet their end through an act of God; others, because of human folly. Many succumb to old age. As with people, some ships like the RMS Titanic are remembered long after their demise. Others just pass into oblivion.

“Everything has to come to an end, sometime.”

— L. Frank Baum, The Marvelous Land of Oz
Click on the images for a larger view:

ADOLF VINNEN. Bremen. 1520 tons. on the rocks near Lizard Point 1923
Photo credit: State Library Victoria

Some ships die young. The Adolf Vinnen was on her maiden voyage from Bremen, Germany, to Barry in Wales when a ferocious gale swept her against the rocks in Cornwall, England. She was wrecked on 9 February 1923 just a few weeks after her launch in December 1922. Fortunately, no lives were lost.

READ: ‘Adolf Vinnen’ – Last Great Sailing Ship Wrecked on Cornwall’s Coast

Costa Concordia
Photo credit: EU Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid
Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0) licence

The cruise ship Costa Concordia appears to sleep peacefully on its starboard side after it struck some rocks off the coast of Giglio Island in Italy. The 2012 disaster claimed 32 lives. Prosecutors in the subsequent trial of Captain Francesco Schettino said he was distracted by the presence on the bridge of a 26-year-old Moldovan dancer, who was his lover. The amorous skipper steered the ship too close to the shore to show off. What goes around comes around. Schettino got 16 years in prison for manslaughter, causing the wreck and abandoning ship.

Wreck of the Sagona (“Le Grec”)
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons user Waielbi
Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0) licence

Man can surpass Nature when it comes death and destruction. Nature kills blindly and at random. In contrast, humans often do it with malice and premeditation. The Sagona, a small cargo vessel loaded with wine, sank on 3rd December 1945 after hitting a sea mine. The wreck lies off the southern coast of Porquerolles island in France and is home to grouper and other sea creatures.

READ MORE about the wreck here.

HEREWARD: 1593 tonnes. Built P. Glasgow. 1877
Photo credit: State Library Victoria

Call it morbid curiosity, but humans are instinctively drawn to scenes of accidents and disasters. This was the case with the Hereward, a British clipper which ran aground in 1898 on Maroubra Beach, Sydney, at the height of a storm. A throng of people rushed to the site when news of the mishap broke.

Wreckage of the American Star (SS America), Fuerteventura, Canary Islands
Photo credit: Thomas Wollex
Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0) licence

The rust-covered American Star (formerly SS America) still looks majestic in this 2004 photo. She had nowhere to go, however. The 1940-built cruise ship was wrecked in the Canary Islands on 18th January 1994. ending a colourful career spanning 54 years. As the old adage goes, all good things must come to an end.

Read more about the ship here.

Shooters Island, Ships Graveyard, Vessel No. 84, Newark Bay, Staten Island (subdivision), Richmond County, NY
Photo credit: Library of Congress

No flowers nor candles for those that lie in a ship cemetery. The interred are forgotten, though some might be mentioned in history books and articles. The same thing can be said of deceased persons who don’t leave behind a legacy, only their DNA.

Ship broken up in Chittagong, Bangladesh (2008)
Photo credit: Stéphane M. Grueso
Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0) licence

Some people may not believe in the afterlife. But for many ships, there is life after death. They are scrapped and their metals recycled. Parts of them (e.g., ship’s wheels and anchors) may end up in nautical stores and private collections. Those that were salvaged from historic ships along with relics on board may find their way to museums.

– Barista Uno

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