Maritime Disaster Quiz


By: Nathan Chandler

4 Min Quiz

Image: shutterstock

About This Quiz

The oceans routinely become a cemetery for humankind's biggest ships. How much do you know about these maritime disasters? Take this quiz and find out!

What sort of ship was the Japanese Toyama Maru, which was sunk by the Allies in 1944?

600 men onboard the troop transport survived the submarine attack. However, 5,400 perished, making it a very deadly maritime disaster.


What was the Japanese ship Jun'yo Maru carrying when it was sunk by a British submarine in 1944?

There were more than 5,000 POWs and slave laborers onboard and almost all of them were killed. Those that were rescued were put to use as slave labor in Burma.


In what year did the MV Wilhelm Gustloff sink?

In 1945, at the end of World War II, the ship was blasted by Allied torpedoes. More than 9,000 evacuees died.


The motor freighter named MV Goya was confiscated by which country during World War II?

Germany captured the ship and turned it into a troop transport. She was sunk in 1945 by a Soviet submarine.


About how many people were onboad the MV Goya when it was sunk by a Soviet torpedo?

There were about 6,700 people onboard, and fewer than 200 were rescued, making this one of the single deadliest events of the war.


How many 12,000-pound bombs did British bombers drop on the German warship Tirpitz in 1944?

Two of the 29 bombs were direct hits. As many as 1,200 men died as the ship exploded and then rolled.


The Japanese battleship Yamato had which distinction?

She was one of the heaviest battleships ever made and loaded with 18-inch guns. Almost all of her 3,000-man crew died during an Allied attack in 1945.


When the Yamato exploded, for how far was the resulting mushroom cloud visible?

100 miles away, people witnessed the enormous mushroom cloud, a testament to the amount of ammunition onboard the ship when she was struck by the Allies.


In what year was the Antikythera mechanism recovered from a shipwreck near Greece?

Found in 1901, this qualifies as a maritime disaster because the ship sunk around 150 B.C.E., taking to the bottom a sophisticated timekeeping device the likes of which the world had never before seen.


Following the loss of the Antikythera mechanism, how long did it take humankind to produce another timekeeping device of its sophistication?

More than 1,000 years passed before humans again created such an advanced contraption. Had the device not been lost, our technologies would perhaps be even more advanced today than they already are.


For what purpose was the Ural Maru being used when she was torpedoed during World War II?

The ship was outfitted for hospital purposes when she was attacked. About 2,000 people died.


The HMS Queen Mary was a battlecruiser built just before which war?

The 1,200-capacity warship was completed just before World War I tore Europe to shreds. Her career did not last long.


How was the HMS Queen Mary sunk?

German warships fired their guns and made direct hits. The Queen Mary exploded and rolled, taking the lives of more than 1,200 men.


What caused the Scilly naval disaster of 1707?

Severe weather contributed to the sailors getting lost, and they mistakenly charged right into submerged rocks, sinking four major war vessels.


How many men died as a result of the Scilly naval disaster?

More than 1,500 men drowned when the four ships sank. The bodies washed up on shore for days following the accident.


What happened to the USS Arizona when it was attacked at Pearl Harbor during World War II?

Japanese bombs struck the ship and ignited ammunition stored onboard, causing a catastrophic explosion that killed almost 1,200 sailors.


Witnesses never saw the iceberg that sunk the RMS Titanic.

There are black-and-white photographs of the frigid monster that tore apart the "unsinkable" ship.


The sinking of the RMS Lusitania helped to convince American politicians to engage in what war?

German submarines torpedoed the huge ship, which was loaded with nearly 2,000 civilians. International outrage caused many countries to change their political stance and then condemn the Germans.


Of the 2,000 people onboard the RMS Lusitania, how many survived the German attack?

More than 700 were rescued, but the majority died. The ship was also carrying small arms ammunition, a fact that the Germans used to justify the attack.


Which country constructed the so-called "Titanic of the East"?

The Chinese built the Tek Sing (or True Star) in the early 19th century. It was more than 160 feet long and had a 90-foot mast. But not for long.


Why did the Tek Sing sink, killing almost all of the 1,600 Chinese travelers onboard?

The captain decided to take an unexpected detour that he thought would save time. The end result? The ship struck rocks and sank. About 200 people were rescued by a passing ship.


How many people died in the worst maritime disaster in British history?

As part of World War II's Operation Ariel, a ship named HM Troopship Lancastria was evacuating troops and civilians from France to Britain. It was bombed, killing more than 4,000 people.


How many people were onboard the HM Troopship Lancastria when German planes bombed it in 1940?

The overloaded ship may have had as many as 10,000 people onboard. Fewer than 2,500 survived the devastating bomb attack.


In what year did the French warship Seduisant sink, killing more than 1,100 sailors?

She sank due to accident in 1796. Of the more than 1,200 men onboard, only 60 managed to survive.


How did the Allies manage to sink the Japanese aircraft carrier Taiho during World War II, killing around 1,700 sailors?

A single torpedo sunk the frail and poorly constructed ship. Hours after the attack, two huge explosions meant there was almost no one left to rescue.


During World War I, which country suffered the single greatest loss of life due to a ship being attacked and sunk?

The Italian cargo ship SS Principe Umberto was loaded with nearly 2,000 men when it was sunk by a submarine in 1916.


While loaded with nearly 5,600 people, how was the Soviet ship Iosif Stalin heavily damaged during World War II?

The ship struck three mines and rendered virtually helpless. Only about 1,700 people were rescued.


What happed as the Iosif Stalin floated helplessly after striking three mines?

Finnish artillery struck the wounded ship, causing ammunition on board to explode. The Soviets aborted any effort to rescue survivors.


Of the 1,300 souls onboard, how many people survived the sinking of La Girona in 1588?

Only nine people survived. A massive gale pushed the ship into rocks, killing everyone else onboard.


The La Girona was an oared warship built to accommodate about how many men?

The ship was crammed with nearly three times the 500-man capacity when it sank. It was also loaded with gold and jewels that weren't found until 1968.


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