Taken by the Sea: 11 Real-life Shipwrecks


The Joola

Poor seamanship may also have contributed to the wreck of another passenger ferry in 2002, this one off the coast of Gambia. The Joola, a ferry owned and operated by the government of Senegal, was licensed to carry 550 passengers. She was carrying almost 2,000 when she headed out of her allowed operating range and into a storm. Joola immediately capsized in high winds and choppy seas. Many passengers died when the ship capsized, but most probably drowned in the water waiting for rescue, which didn't come until the morning after the wreck, hours after the accident. More than 1,800 passengers died. There were only 64 survivors.

An investigation after the wreck surmised that the Joola capsized due to poor ship maintenance, too much weight and her sailing beyond the coastal waters she was approved for. But no one knows for sure. It's usually difficult to pinpoint the exact cause when a ship goes down in a storm. War-time shipwrecks, on the other hand, are typically far easier to explain.