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International Registry of Sunken Ships

GREATEST MARITIME DISASTERS


For a single vessel, either naval or civilian, excluding dockside or rescue personnel.
List of 20 or so drawn from database, I am quite sure further research will change the order a little.


NameDateLives LostNotes
Wilhelm GustloffJan 30th 19455,900 to
7,000
German steamer of 25,484 tons. Torpedoed by Russian submarine S-13 about 28 n/miles NNE of Leba, Baltic. It is estimated that this number of persons may have been on board the vessel during the evacuation of German troops and personnel from Baltic ports
GoyaApr 16th 19456,200 German steamer of 5,230 tons. Torpedoed by Russian submarine L-3 off Rixhoft, Baltic. It is estimated that this number of persons may have been on board the vessel during the evacuation of German troops and personnel from Baltic ports
Junyo MaruSept 18th 19445,620Japanese steamer 5,065 tons. Torpedoed by British submarine HMS Tradewind off coast of Sumatra. Vessel carrying 2,300 Dutch, British, American and Australian POW's and 4,200 Javanese slave laborers for work on a railway in Sumatra.
Toyama MaruJune 29th 19445,400Japanese steamer 6,000 tons. Torpedoed by American submarine USS Sturgeon. Bound for Okinawa. Vessel carrying 6,000 plus members of the Japanese 44th Independent Mixed Brigade. About 600 survivors rescued by escorts
Cap ArconaMay 3rd 19455,000 to
7,000
German steamer of 27,561 tons. Attacked and sunk by British aircraft at Neustadt Bay, Baltic. Included in the number are 2,300 forced embarkees from the concentration camps
Ukishima MaruAugust 24th 19455,000+In the Aomori Prefecture, in the far north of Japan, around 5,000 Korean slave labourers had spent the last few years of the war digging a major underground complex of tunnels and storage facilities. With the work completed and the end of the war just a few weeks away, the five thousand labourers including many Korean sex slaves, the so-called 'Comfort Women', were put aboard the Japanese warship Ukishima Maru with the promise that they were being returned to their homeland. The warship sailed south along the west coast until it reached the Maisaru Naval Base in Kyoto. There, the hatches to the holds were sealed down and the ship taken offshore and scuttled. Explosives were placed inside the hull, the resulting explosions sinking the ship within minutes. There were only some 80 survivors. Fifty-seven years later, in August 2001, fifteen of the survivors who were still alive, won a lawsuit for compensation against the Japanese government. They were paid the paltry sum of $30,000". George Duncan Web Page.
LancastriaJune 17th 19403,000 to 4,500British Troopship 16,243 tons. Sunk by German air attack off St Nazaire while engaged in troop evacuation. Site is a designated war grave. Some lists show up to 9,000 on board with up to 7,000 killed. Official British report on loss will not be released until the year 2040. So who or what was on board to warrant a 100 year closed file.....(Anyone feel like giving me a call)
Dona PazDec 20th 19874,341Philippine passenger ferry. Foundered in collision with tanker Vector about 110 miles South of Manila
OriaJan 12th 19444,145"ORIA - Italian troopship taken over by the Germans in November,1942, in Marseilles. Given a new name 'Norda 1V' she departed Marseilles for Italy where she was given back her old name of ORIA. Still under German management the vessel departed Rhodes for Piraeus on February 11, 1944, with 4,200 Italian prisoners-of-war on board. They were guarded by over sixty German soldiers. Next day, February 12, the ship encountered a severe storm and while attempting to anchor near the island of Patroklos she stranded on the Gaidaroneos Reef and broke up. Only 49 prisoners, 6 soldiers and 5 crew including the captain, were rescued". George Duncan Web Page.
Yoshida Maru No1April 26th 19443,000 YOSHIDA MARU - Was in convoy transporting around 20,000 troops and had sailed from Shanghai to reinforce the Japanese garrison on Halmahera. She was attacked by the American submarine USS JACK. The Yoshida Maru was carrying an full Japanese Army regiment of 3,000 men. There were no survivors when the ship sank off Manila Bay.
KiangyaDec 3rd 19482,750 to
3,920
Chinese steamer 2,100 tons. Struck a mine off Woosung, China while fleeing the Red Chinese
Provence 11Feb 26th 19163,100French auxil' Cruiser 13,753 tons. Torpedoed by U-35 West of Kithira Island, Greece.
ThielbekMay 3rd 19452,800German steamer of 2,815 tons. Burned and sunk after British air attack at Lubeck Bay. Passengers included inmates from Neuengamme Concentration Camp. There were no survivors
General von SteubenFeb 10th 19452,700German steamer 14,666 tons. Torpedoed by a Russian submarine S-13 off Stolpe Bank, Baltic. It is estimated that this number of persons may have been on board the vessel during the evacuation of German troops and personel from Baltic ports
PetrellaFeb 8th 19442,6704,784 tons. German Transport. Torpedoed by HMS SPORTSMAN (Lt R Gatehouse) North of Suda Bay, Crete (N:35.32. E:24.18). Vessel carried 3,173 Italian prisoners of war of which 2,670 of them were killed. The German guards, it would seem, would not open the PoW doors.
YamatoApr 7th 19452,500Japanese battleship 64,000 tons. Sunk by US air attack between Japan and Okinawa at N:30.43.17. E:128.04.
NeptuniaSept 18th 19412,500Italian transport 19,475 tons. Torpedoed by British submarine HMS Upholder about 58 miles off Tripoli carrying Italian military
OceaniaSept 18th 19412,500Italian transport 19,507 tons. Torpedoed by British submarine HMS Upholder near Tripoli carrying Italian military
BismarckMay 27th 19412,108+49,136 tons. 820ft x 118 x 28. C/O Lindemann. Damaged by King George V and Rodney about 600 miles west of Brest at a depth of 4,790 meters (15,700 feet). Coupe de Grace from HMS Dorsetshire (Cruiser) Has been located in 4,700m of water. Out of her total complement of 2221 men, there were 115 survivors. Later German U-Boat U-74 rescued three more sailors. The next day, the German weather ship SACHSENWALD rescued two more.
SinfraOct 19th 19432,098French steamer 4,470 tons. In German hands, sunk by aircraft attack North of Crete. Vessel carrying 2,664 prisoners on board, mostly Italian.
Ural MaruSept 27th 19442,000Japanese transport 6,374 tons. Torpedoed by USS Flasher about 150 miles West of Masinlik, Philippine Islands at N:15.40. E:117.18. Had been carrying 2,340 persons on board.
Awa MaruApril 1st 19452,000+Japanese hospital ship, 11,249 tons. Torpedoed by USS Queenfish SS-393 about 14 miles off the Chinese Mainland at N:24.40. E:119.45. Had been carrying several wounded soldiers, and 2,000 Japanese officials, diplomats, technicians, and civilians.
ScharnhorstDec 26th 19431,964German battleship 38,092 tons. Sunk by British naval action off North Cape of Norway
Le JoolaSept 26th 20021,8632,087 ton Senegalese R/O R/O ferry. Bound Dakar to Casamance, greatly overloaded. Capsized in a storm off Gambia.
RigelNov 27th 19441,833Norwegian transport 3,828 tons. Sunk by aircraft from HMS Implacable North of Namsos while Southbound from Norway to Germany. Crew and 2,248 Russian prisoners were on board. Vessel was in German hands
Hai ChuNov 8th 19451,800+Chinese steamer 1,078 tons. Sunk by mine near Boca Tigris at the mouth of the Canton River. Bound Canton to Hong Kong with 2,000 soldiers, 100 cicilians and the crew. Only 300 survived.
DonizettiSept 23rd 19431,800Italian transport, 2,428 tons. 294ft x 40.2ft. Built in 1928 by Cant' Nav' Triestino. Owned by "Tirrenia" Soc Anon di Nav. Under German control - had picked up 1,800 passengers and troops at Rhodes and bound for Piraeus under escort of German frigate TAIO. Sunk by HMS ECLIPSE South of the Island of Rhodes. Lives lost 1,800.
Arisan MaruOct 24th 19441,777Japanese steamer 6,886 tons. Torpedoed by American submarine USS Snook in the South China Sea. Carrying 1,786 US prisoners from Manila to Japan.
TaihoJune 19th 19441,650Japanese aircraft carrier 29,300 tons. Torpedoed at N:12.22 E:137.04. West of Guam by USS Albacore SS-218. Burned and foundered 6 hours later
LaconiaSept 12th 19421,649British transport 19,695 tons. Torpedoed by U-156 at S:04.52. W:11.26. without realizing vessel was carrying 1,800 Italian prisoner of war. Assistance in rescue operation by U-156, 506 and 507. During these operations an American aircraft from the Ascension Islands depth charged the U-boats and the rescued causing the U-boats to submerge and protect themselves.

*Salem Express* (Red Sea) It is said that the sinking of this vessel incurred the greatest loss of life this century. As far a I can ascertain it is estimated that there were about 1,600 persons on board and about 180 lives were saved.