This entry is part 3 of 3 in the series Maritime Mishaps

Part three of our Maritime Mishaps series continues with a look at complete loss of water-going vessels: Shipwrecks! We’ll look at the wrecks of the Swedish “Vasa”, the Admiral Nakhimov, the MS Estonia, Tek Sing, Le Joola, leading up to the deadliest shipwreck ever: the MV Doña Paz.  Then we do some news, and talk mostly about the shipwreck movie: Titanic!

Music: “Return to Melanesia” by The Darkest of the Hillside Thickets




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11 Responses

  1. With the risk of kicking in a corridor or so of open doors:

    Vasa = A noble (later royal) family name stemming from the sheaf (vase) on their coat of arms
    Älvsnabben = Älv meaning river and snabb meaning fast, not quite sure how that came to be.
    Vatten = Water

    Since the recovery was so near the harbor and sort of a prestige project it’s very well documented if any one is interested (for example:


    Interestingly the cold and brackish water of the Baltic is pretty decent at preserving wrecks (with the resulting lack of shipworm for one) so as a long time travelled and contested sea there are a good number of them still remaining, both older ones and as a result of the World Wars. Less fortunate (for divers/explorers at least) is that the waters are also stormy, dark and silty.

    Regarding Estonia it’s (or at least used to be) one of those cultural touchstones, seemingly few were more than a degree or two removed from the accident (like a friends family who was supposed to go that day but luckily had to postpone for whatever reason). Later to be supplanted by the 2004 tsunami disaster.

    Finally, kudos for the fairly international coverage seeing as these type of accidents (much like natural disasters like the earthquake/tsunami mentioned above) is tragically unevenly distributed over the globe, both in frequency and the severity of the effects .

  2. God, I hate Titanic. Hated it then, hate it now. The storyline is trite, the acting is meh, and the “bad guy” is so cartoonishly one-dimensional I was half-expecting him to have a handlebar mustache to twirl while walking around in a big black cape. UGH. It’s just one big special effectgasm ending in snuff porn with little else to recommend it.

    The costumes are pretty? That’s all I can muster.

    For any followups: I will say props to Cameron for fixing the sky:

    I can appreciate that level of obsessiveness. 😀

    1. I’m with you on “Titanic.” Dumb story, corny villain etc.. And at the end when Jack is giving Rose a freaking PEP TALK as he freezes to death? Get outta here.

  3. Followup: After MS Estonia sinking shipbuilders have mostly stopped making ferries with bow visors, they’ve mostly gone over to clamshell like bow doors. Stricter international regulations have also added to the safety of the ferries with bow visors, a third watertight door has been added behind the visor.

  4. Investigations point to the stern of the Titanic only going up to 45 degrees at most, before slapping back down horizontal again after the bow half broke loose, then quickly sinking. Cameron’s movie showed it going up in the air to 90 degrees, then sliding into the water from there. I only watched it one time at a cinema, and I think once more at a friend’s home when he wanted to show off his new sound system for his TV. I’m glad Cameron was willing to fix the stars so they matched the sky of that night.

  5. I’ve been a Titanic nut since long before its location in ’85 by Dr. Ballard. One thing I absolutely love about this dreadful love story is the chance to “move” through an authentic, life-size recreation and see what the ship would have truly looked like–and in colour! Shlock garbage love syrup aside, this film delivers a Titanophile’s dream in that regard. And, as always, this was a super podcast from the Caustic Gents!

  6. Connie Willis doesn’t get enough love from the world at large, so I’ll rave about her book Passage here. She’s always been good at blending historical fiction with the (quite funny) travails of modern-day scientists’ lives, and she gets some really good mileage out of the Titanic story while clinical psychologists research near-death experiences. The book also manages to be more than a little heartbreaking twice, so it’s got that going for it, too… *and* it’s written by the woman who was once groped on stage by Harlan Ellison, which brings things right back around to being ripped off by James Cameron. So… Titanic, breasts, Cameron… I think I’ve just completed a hat trick.