The history of shipwrecks and storms is long and painful, it stretches back to the time when man launched his first boats into the sea. It is estimated that since then millions of vessels and countless lives have been lost at sea or on seacoasts.
Many of those vessels and lives were lost due to storms, but there are also many other causes. Included among them are: ship design flaws, explosions, collisions, navigational errors, warfare, uncharted navigational hazards, and just plain carelessness. Nonetheless, storms are the major cause of shipwrecks.
It has been calculated that on average two large vessels are wrecked each week somewhere in the world. Of course, areas with high oceangoing traffic, a history of violent storms, or a long seagoing history have more known wrecks. Among them are: the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of the United States; around the coast of England and Scotland, particularly in the English Channel; the Bay of Biscay off France; the notch in the western Africa coast near Cameroon, Gabon, and Nigeria; South Africa’s Cape of Good Hope; the Persian Gulf; the Strait of Malacca between Indonesia and Malaysia; the southeast coast of Korea; the west coast of Taiwan; the coast of China; and Cape Horn off southern Chile.
Will the continuing improvements in weather forecasting and ship design bring fewer shipwrecks? Perhaps, but ocean traffic in recent years has increased significantly and ships are getting much bigger. It is likely that there will be just as many wrecks, but they will be spread to even more places – and with greater ecological consequences. As they always have, storms and shipwrecks will continue to make news.