Discovering 35 Fascinating Facts About Sea-Faring Vessels

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1USS Johnston

USS Johnston

When the USS Johnston was sinking, it was saluted by a Japanese destroyer captain. This US destroyer spent nearly 3 hours squaring off against 23 Japanese ships, including 4 Battleships, 8 Cruisers, and 11 destroyers.

2. In 1998, the US Navy warship USS Yorktown became paralyzed in the water after Navy opted to run the ship on Windows NT 4.0 instead of a more fitting OS. A sailor unknowingly divided by zero, causing an overflow error and killing the entire ship.

3. The HMS Black Joke was previously a Brazilian slave ship called the Henriquetta that was captured by the Royal Navy and repurposed to chase down slave ships, ultimately freeing hundreds of slaves during her five-year career.

4. After the HMS Sheffield was hit by an Argentine Exocet missile during the Falklands War, her crew sang "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life", from Monty Python's Life of Brian as they awaited rescue and watched their ship burn uncontrollably.

5. In 1942, HMS Porcupine was split in half by a German torpedo. The two sides were later salvaged and renamed the HMS Pork and the HMS Pine.

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6Santa María

Santa María

Santa María, the largest ship used by Christopher Columbus when he reached the Americas, was only 62 feet (19m) long, or slightly longer than a large coach bus.

7. When ships pass through Point Nemo in the southern Pacific Ocean, the closest human beings to them are probably in the International Space Station 400km above them.

8. A bulbous bow allows a ship to move faster by canceling waves with its own waves.

9. In 1972, some of Aircraft Carrier USS Ranger's crew carried out two-dozen acts of sabotage to prevent the ship from returning to Vietnam.

10. In 1941, a Dutch Navy ship named HNLMS Abraham Crijnssen escaped from the Japanese by being disguised as an island and only sailing at night. It went from Indonesia to Australia without being detected.

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11MV Derbyshire

MV Derbyshire

The largest British ship lost at sea was the MV Derbyshire which weighed 92,000 tons. It went down in a typhoon off Japan without ever issuing a mayday call. Investigators found the wreck and concluded that the entire ship could have sunk in as little as two minutes.

12. The Titanic's coal stores had been burning for weeks before she set sail, damaging the starboard side of the ship where the iceberg hit. There was not only a cover-up but evidence that the fire damaged the hull enough to be a large contributing factor to why the iceberg caused such damage.

13. In 1978, a US Navy ship named USS Stein was attacked by an unknown species of giant squid. Nearly all of the cuts found on the sonar dome contained remnants of sharp, curved claws found on suction cups of squid tentacles. The claws were much larger than those of any squid that had been discovered at that time.

14. The replica of the 18th century rigger HMS Bounty which was built for the film “Mutiny on the Bounty,” stayed afloat for over 4 decades before it sank when it was inexplicably sailed into the eye of Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

15. The Australians had a warship named HMAS Doomba in World War 2 that served as a minesweeper.

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16USS Potomac

USS Potomac

In 1831, an American pepper trading ship was attacked off the Island of Sumatra. Locals killed 3 people and plundered the ship. In retaliation, U.S. President Andrew Jackson sent USS Potomac warship all the way back to Sumatra to destroy the village the attackers were from.

17. There exists a battle ship named USS New York, which was built with 24 tons of steel salvaged from the World Trade Center to commemorate the victims of 9/11

18. U.S. Navy has only one ship held captive by another nation. North Korea took the USS Pueblo in 1968 and uses it as a tourist attraction. The U.S. still lists it as actively commissioned.

19. The USS Cyclops, which went missing in 1918 during World War 1 remains the single largest loss of life in U.S. Naval history not directly involving combat, and the fate of the ship is unknown still to this day.

20. In 1962, when USS Independence encountered the Italian ship Amerigo Vespucci, the former asked “who are you?”, after it received an answer, the American ship declared “You’re the most beautiful ship in the world.”



In 1991, when a cruise ship named Oceanos sank, the crew abandoned the ship leaving the passengers fend for themselves. They were all saved by guitarist Moss Hills, who radioed for help and directed the rescue operation.

22. North Korea claims to have sunk the heavy cruiser USS Baltimore and even preserved the ship that "sunk it" in a museum. The USS Baltimore was never deployed to Korea and was scrapped in 1972.

23. In 1872, a ship named Mary Celeste was discovered adrift and deserted in the Atlantic Ocean. The last log entry was 10 days before her discovery and when another ship happened upon her, all of the provisions and belongings of the crew were perfectly intact, but the whole crew was missing.

24. When HMS Birkenhead wrecked in 1852, there were not enough lifeboats for all the passengers aboard , and the soldiers (who were being transported) famously stood firm on deck (even as the ship broke up) allowing the women and children to board the boats safely and escape the sinking.

25. Some warships used to be painted in dazzle patterns consisting of complex patterns of geometric shapes in contrasting colors, interrupting and intersecting each other. This kind of camouflage was used extensively in World War 1 to disrupt the enemy’s depth perception.

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