Maritime Marvels: 47 Fascinating Facts About Ships and Their Voyages

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1General Average law

General Average law

The “Law of General Average” allows shippers to jettison random containers off a container ship in an emergency and legally, everyone shipping goods on the same ship must share in the cost of the loss equally.


2. When the USS West Virginia was finally raised after being sunk during the bombing of Pearl Harbor, deceased men were found in an airtight storeroom. On the calendar, 16 days were crossed off in red pencil.


3. Aboard the World War 2 British battleship HMS Vanguard, an Engineer traveled 7 miles and climbed 3,000 feet of stairs daily during his turn of inspection and the ship’s bakery produced 1,000 lbs of bread daily.


4. In 2007, when the North Korean merchant vessel MV Dai Hong Dan was attacked by Somali pirates, American destroyer USS James E. Williams came to their aid. This event led to rare pro-US statements from the North Korean media.


5. In 2009, when a Canadian man named John Wilson opened the shipping container he had bought for $400 and used it as a bridge for 10 years, inside it he found a $2,000,000 Canadian warship engine.


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6USS Enterprise

USS Enterprise

The aircraft carrier USS Enterprise was the longest warship ever built and weighed over 90,000 tons. Despite this, it was one of the fastest, due to having 8 separate nuclear reactors putting out a total of 280,000hp. No other carrier has more than two.


7. The only active ship in the US Navy that has sunk an enemy ship is the USS Constitution which was built in 1797.


8. The Titanic had an older sister ship called "Olympic", which became the only civilian ship to sink an enemy warship during World War 1 when it turned around and rammed a German submarine attempting to attack it. The submarine was gashed open by The Olympic's propellor.


9. During the Spanish American war, the USS Charleston fired 13 rounds at the Spanish fort on Guam which all missed. The Spanish, unaware that war had been declared, believed that the Americans must be firing a salute and rowed out to apologize for their lack of gunpowder to return the salute.


10. In 2010, the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson was deployed to Haiti after the 2010 earthquake and provided the island with 200,000 gallons a day of fresh drinking water from its desalination plants.


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11Lutjens (D185)

Lutjens (D185)

In the days after the 9/11 attacks, the German warship Lutjens (D185) passed by the US destroyer Winston S. Churchill with the United States flag flying at half-mast and the sailors Manning-the-Rails, an honor typically reserved for heads of state.


12. 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.


13. 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.


14. 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.


15. 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.


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16HMS Porcupine

HMS Porcupine

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.


17. 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.


18. 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.


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


20. 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.


21HNLMS Abraham Crijnssen

HNLMS Abraham Crijnssen

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.


22. 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.


23. 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.


24. 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.


25. 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.

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