The open water is a very dangerous place. Outside of any number of small vessel accidents one can get into, many sea-faring vehicles are meant for large groups of people to traverse the seas or ship extremely large amounts of hazardous materials across oceans. Factor in the chaotic weather that occurs across open water, and you’ve all but guaranteed a number of disasters are going to occur. Sometimes these disasters are environmental disasters as a result of chemical spills. Other times large passenger vessels like ferries or cruise ships experience collisions or extreme weather conditions. It’s the latter of these disasters that are usually responsible for the most loss of life. Let’s take a look at some of the more recent disasters to have occurred on the water.
15. The Crown Princess Cruise Ship
A listing incident involving the Crown Princess is said by some to be one of the worst incidents in modern cruises. When a ship makes a turn quickly, it tends to tip to the side. This is what’s referred to as listing. Many passengers on the top levels of the ship feared the ship was capsizing. Due to being hurled to the other end of the ship, 240 passengers suffered injuries, with 94 passengers requiring hospitalization. The ship didn’t sink and the listing was a result of human error.
14. Royal Caribbean Explorer of the Seas
In January of 2014, 700 passengers and crew aboard the Explorer of the Seas became very ill. Entertainers aboard the ship canceled shows, and others were stricken with diarrhea, vomiting, and didn’t even want to eat. There was no official reason as to what virus had spread, but it’s thought to be the work of norovirus. Norovirus is known for spreading quickly and easily when a lot of people are in close quarters, you know, like a cruise ship.
13. Carnival Triumph
Unless you were living under a rock in 2013, you more than likely heard of the cruise ship incident dubbed by the media as “the poop cruise.” A fire went up in the ship’s engine room. It was quickly extinguished by an automatic system, but the fire cut power and propulsion in the ship. Raw sewage backed up into the ship and customers were forced to establish corners to use the restroom. Other cruise ships had to bring food and supplies until four tugboats were finally able to pull Triumph to shore.
12. Cruise Ship Costa Concordia
In 2012, the cruise ship Costa Concordia struck a rock just off the coast of Isola del Giglio. The collision put a large hole in the hull of the ship. Despite the fact that the ship was taking in water, sinking, and had no power or propulsion, the order to evacuate wasn’t given for over an hour. Typically, protocol requires the order to be given in 30 minutes. By the time the ship had made it to land, 32 passengers had lost their lives.
11. Louis Majesty Mediterranean Cruise Ship
In 2010, the Louis Majesty was bombarded by “abnormal” 30 ft. waves that crashed against the sides of the ship. The waves took out windows and flooded public areas of the ship. Fortunately, this cruise line disaster had minimal casualties. Fourteen passengers were hospitalized with a range of injuries, the most severe being a passenger with two broken legs. Two passengers on the cruise lost their lives during the wave assault.
10. Hebei Spirit
In December of 2007, the South Korean crude carrier Hebei Spirit was struck by a crane barge that was in tow by a tugboat. The collision pierced three of the ships five tanks and over 11,000 tons of crude oil leaked out into the waters. South Korea declared a state of disaster and $330 Million US was spent to clean up the spill. South Korea is still feeling the economic and environmental impact of the incident. Many beaches were shut down and several farms lost their livestock.
9. Louisiana Tanker Collision in Mississippi River
On the Mississippi River, just outside of New Orleans, Louisiana, two oil tankers and a barge collided. As a result, 580 gallons of oil leaked into the river, causing massive shut downs for a third of a mile up the river. Anyone on the beach was evacuated by the US Coast Guard, the city’s water supply was shut down, and traffic was even shut down on coastal roads. Though the damage was contained rather quickly, this was the third oil spill off the Gulf in just a year.
8. MV Pacific Adventurer
Near Queensland, Australia during Cyclone Hamish, improperly secured cargo fell on the Pacific Adventurer, damaged other cargo, and created a spill of crude oil and ammonium nitrate. The chemicals washed up to 37 miles of coast, resulting in a massive restricted area. Because the ship continued to move, a 1600 foot slick ran along the Brisbane River mouth.
Clean-up cost nearly $100,000 per day.
2009 Queensland, Australia
7. Deepwater Horizon Explosion
The Deepwater Horizon is a semi-submersible drilling rig. The rig was drilling for BP when it caught fire and exploded. 11 workers on the rig were killed.
Following the explosion and fire, an oil spill took place that is considered to be the single largest marine oil disaster in the world, as well as the largest environmental disaster in the United States. It is estimated that 210 million gallons of oil spilled into the Gulf of Mexico, an area that is becoming increasingly known for its bad luck with oil spills.
6. Texas Tanker Eagle Otome
Near Port Arthur, Texas, an oil tanker called the Eagle Otome collided with a barge being pushed by a tugboat called The Dixie Vengeance. The collision resulted in 450,000 gallons of oil leaking into the water. Since a perimeter was quickly set and the waterway in question was industrial and commercial, authorities said that no local wildlife was harmed despite the fact that 11,000 gallons went unaccounted for in the clean-up effort.
5. Sewol Ferry
In South Korea, a ferry known as Sewol was traveling with 476 people on board, most of whom were secondary school students. The ship capsized when making a sharp turn and 300 aboard the vessel were killed. The crew and captain were largely held accountable and even charged with murder. The owner of the Marine that operated the ship was found dead after a nationwide manhunt. Foul play was ruled out.
4. Princess of the Stars
The ferry Princess of the Stars came across deadly conditions during the height of Typhoon Fengshen in 2008. The ship capsized and rescue efforts were only able to come up with 48 survivors out of an estimated 861 on board. Despite the best efforts for clean-up and rescue, hundreds of bodies are still missing at sea.
3. Le Joola
In 2002, a Senegal ferry known as Le Joola set out to sea with nearly 2,000 crew and passengers on board. The ferry was out further than it was licensed to sail when it hit an unexpected and violent storm. The ferry capsized, and nearly everyone on the vessel, save for only 64 survivors, lost their lives. The death toll is estimated to be around 1,863.
The ship was only 12 years old and was expected to last for 30 years, but investigations determined that the vessel was poorly maintained.
2. Samson Ferry Caught in Cyclone Gafilo
Cyclone Gafilo was bad enough on land. The cyclone was responsible for 50 deaths on the coast of Madagascar. Unfortunately, the Samson was out at sea during the storm. The last anyone had heard from the ship, the captain had reported the generator had broken down and he would be bringing the ship back to shore. Two individuals were found later, coming to shore clinging to a piece of a life raft. The two survivors out of 120 passengers and crew reported that they had watched the ship sink.
1. Lamma IV Ferry Collision
In what was considered to be the largest maritime disaster in Hong Kong since 1971, two passenger vessels collided near Hong Kong in 2012. 39 people were killed in the collisions and 92 were injured. What makes this disaster most unfortunate is that the travelers were in tour groups, one of which was heading to a fireworks display to celebrate the National Day of the People’s Republic of China. This means many on board were families and a large number of children were on board the vessels.