Shipwrecks are unfortunately common, and many divers find ships at the bottom of the ocean. But what about cars? Buses? Planes? These rarely end up in the ocean, and many have interesting stories behind them. Some were shot down in war, while others were purposefully sunk to create an artificial reef. Check out these underwater cars, boats, and planes all around the world.
Pablo Escobar’s Criminal Plane Sank In The Bahamas
Pablo Escobar was an infamous Colombian narcotics lord who smuggled his wares throughout the 20th century. He transported items on planes, one of which crashed close to the Staniel Cay airport in the Bahamas.
In the 1970s, a pilot radioed the airport to request help for finding the dimly lit landing strip. He feared that his plane would run out of fuel. The next morning, divers searched Norman Cay and found the sunken plane, filled with narcotics. The pilots had escaped and survived, but Escobar’s smuggling plane remains there to this day.
These Vintage Subway Cars Are Now In The Ocean
Along the East Coast of the United States, there are 2,500 Redbird subway cars underwater. This is the result of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) of New York. From 2001 to 2010, the MTA repurposed these out-of-commission cars as artificial reefs.
These subway cars are still underwater along the coasts of South Carolina, Maryland, Delaware, and New Jersey. As artificial reefs, these cars promote sea life by allowing corral and other sea life to inhabit them. They are also fascinating for divers.
This "Ghost Yacht" Was Frozen Underwater
If you sail to Ardley Cove, Antarctica, you’ll see a frozen yacht beneath the water. This yacht, called Mar Sem Fim or "Endless Sea" in English, was owned by Brazilian journalist and entrepreneur João Lara Mesquita. He and his crew were filming a documentary about Antarctica when the yacht sank.
According to crew members, the boat was overturned by 62 miles per hour winds. The Chilean Navy rescued survivors after four days. Mar Sem Fim remained 30 feet underwater, visible from the surface, for one year until it was recovered.
How This 1957 Volkswagen Bus Ended Up Underwater
In 1973, someone dumped their 1957 Volkswagen 23 Window Bus into a lake. This was common. Fjord, a water inlet in Norway, became a popular dumping ground for vehicles. It cost less to buy a new car than to repair the old one.
For 36 years, divers could swim by the old Volkswagen along with other tires and car parts in the lake. But in 2009, Morten Lunt heard about the vehicle and lifted it out of the water. He is currently trying to restore it.
Divers Can Swim Into Buses Beneath A Pennsylvania Lake
Dutch Springs near Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, is a popular diving site. Along with its various species of fish, the lake also contains multiple cars and buses. Dutch Springs used to be a dumping ground for out-of-commission vehicles before it was converted into a diving spot in 1980.
These buses were likely cheaper to dump than to restore. In the 20th century, public lakes were not as moderated as they are today. As a result, dozens of cars and buses ended up 100 feet below the surface. Divers can even swim inside them!
This Sunken School Bus Is Not As Creepy As It Looks
Most people see school buses transporting children to and from school, not at the bottom of the ocean. A decrepit school bus found underwater is a jarring sight. But don’t worry; this bus did not contain children when it sank.
This school bus was submerged in Baldwin County, Alabama, as part of a training exercise. It tested bus drivers and emergency responders on safety protocols in case an accident occurs. Despite how it looks, this sunken school bus is actually saving lives.
A 40-Year-Old Graveyard Of Toyotas
The Red Sea near Sudan, Africa, holds a graveyard of sunken Toyota cars. These cars have been underwater for over 40 years. In 1977, the Saudi-Arabian cargo ship Grande America was transferring 181 cars, all of which were Toyotas. It ran aground in the Sha’b Suadi Reef, 50 miles north of Port Sudan.
Now known as the Blue Belt Shipwreck, this spot has become popular with divers. Most of the cars are heavily decayed, but you can still see some engines, steering wheels, and fenders. The fish seem to enjoy it, too.
This 1930s Airliner Is Almost Entirely Intact
Many planes that land in the ocean fall apart, usually from bombing, harsh weather, or strong currents. But this World War II plane is remarkably intact. This is a Douglas DC3, an American airliner produced in the 1930s and ’40s, yet the inside and outside are almost perfectly preserved today.
It is unclear when this plane crashed, but it was likely in the 1930s. Divers found it off the coast of Turkey and think it had been transporting military supplies.
Sunken Tourist Buses In Britain
Dayhouse Quarry, also called Chepstow Quarry, is underneath the Wye River on the Wales-England border. The area has multiple sunken vehicles, including commercial trucks, double-decker British tourists buses, tanks, and even a helicopter. They have been there for decades.
These vehicles were purposefully sunk to create a training ground for divers. Even today, divers go there to swim around the vehicles and take unique underwater photos. There are so many stunning pictures from Dayhouse Quarry that it’s hard to pick a favorite!
In 2017, A New Military Aircraft Was Tossed Into The Ocean
As you can probably tell by the picture, this sinking was recent. The plane is a Lockheed C-130 Hercules, a four-engine transport craft. It is known for transporting a large amount of cargo and passengers over long distances, but it also carried out medical missions.
So how did it end up underwater? In 2017, the Jordanian Air Force decided to sink one of these planes to create artificial reefs. Off the coast of Aqaba, Jordan, divers will find a 112-foot-long Hercules with a 132-foot wingspan.
A Mysterious Underwater Beetle
Not much is known about this underwater Volkswagen Beetle. It was found off the shore of Portugal and seems to be falling apart at the seams. Before dumping it into the sea, the mysterious owner removed the engine.
Since 1938, Volkswagen has produced 20 million Beetles. The original reached 25 horsepower and a top speed of 62 mph. In 1998, they launched the "New Beetle" which is often seen today.
This WWII Plane Is Upside-Down And Crooked
During World War II, a Messerschmitt Bf 109 crashed off the shore of Crete. This fighter aircraft was the backbone of the German Luftwaffe fighter force. But when this plane sank 78 feet below the surface, it landed upside-down and crooked.
Over time, this plane has straightened out and now lies on its back in the sand. But the Messerschmitt Bf 109 wreck is still popular among divers, as it has been submerged for around 80 years. It is unknown how this plane crashed and what happened to the pilots.
Hawaiian Fish And A World War II Plane Crash
The Vought F4U Corsair was a carrier-based fighter aircraft that flew in the American Air Corps during World War II. To this day, a crashed Corsair can still be found in O’ahu, Hawaii. It has become an artificial reef that feeds the native fish.
In 1948, the plane was on a routine mission when it started to sputter. The pilot achieved the perfect water landing, with the wheels up and flaps extended. He escaped the plane and was rescued, but the Corsair sank to the seafloor, where it remains today.
British Navy Trucks Sank With The SS Thistlegorm
This truck has been underwater for 80 years, along with many similar vehicles. It was a 1930s military truck that was being transported on a British Merchant Navy ship. When the ship sank, all the vehicles went with it.
In 1940, Joseph Thompson & Son built the SS Thistlegorm. The ship was designed to transport military vehicles, but it barely lasted a year. On October 6, 1941, German bombers sunk it near Ras Muhammad in the Red Sea. Today, the area is a popular site for divers to look at vintage cars.
How A Motorcycle Ended Up Underwater
The SS Thistlegorm transferred several military vehicles. But after it sank, divers were surprised to find motorcycles as part of the cargo. This vintage motorcycle was likely owned by a soldier or higher-ranking Army member.
Specifically, this is a Birmingham Small Arms Company Limited (BSA) motorcycle. BSA was the same company that produced other military vehicles, including firearms, buses, bicycles, and cars. During the ’50s and ’60s, it was the largest motorcycle producer in the world. But this is a vintage BSA motorcycle from the 1940s.
A Haunting Graveyard Of Japanese Tanks
This tank is a remnant of Japan’s war technology. During World War II, Truk Lagoon was a Japanese naval base within the Federated States of Micronesia. At one point, it was their main base with 13,700 people. In 1944, the U.S. Navy commenced "Operation Hailstone" which bombed the base.
As a result, many of Japan’s war vehicles sunk to the bottom of the ocean, where they have remained for almost 80 years. This tank is only one piece of an enormous, haunting graveyard of war vehicles.
In 1980, These Trucks Fell Off A Sinking Ship
These trucks are part of a larger shipwreck that occurred in 1980. In June of that year, the Swedish ferry MS Zenobia embarked on her maiden voyage. Due to a software error with the water pumps, the Zenobia sank near Larnaca, Cyprus.
The ship, along with her cargo, now lies 138 feet beneath the surface. Because the ship tilted, her contents fell into the water before she did. These massive trucks ended up next to each other, both resting on their sides. It is an unusual and eerie sight.
The Last B24 Liberator Is Underwater
Near the Croatian island Vis, 128 feet below the surface, there is an American B24 Liberator. This heavy bomber had many updates throughout World War II. This plane, nicknamed the "Tulsamerican," ran out of fuel and crash-landed around 1945.
Based on the aircraft’s serial number, 42-51430, this is likely the last B24 ever produced. It was made in Tulsa by Douglas Aircraft, on July 31, 1944. If you want to see the last B24 heavy bomber, you will have to dive over 100 feet to see it at the bottom of the ocean.
Someone Sold This Car For $9,000
This 1959 Chevy Impala has been in a pond for 15 years. Not much is known about where it is, but the owner apparently drove it into the pond on purpose. They wanted to make an artificial reef instead of paying for a statue or art sculpture.
After several years, it became clear that the artificial reef idea would not work. The car was too close to the surface for fish to inhabit it. So instead, the owner fished it out and sold it for $9,000. The new owner has a big restoration job!
A 1970 Mustang Turned Into A Reef
It’s not common to see an expensive luxury car underwater. But this 1970 Mustang has gone from the road to the bottom of the ocean. Like many other vintage or “dead” vehicles, it was transformed into an artificial reef.
The Mustang used to be bright red, but its paint is slowly coming off. Some of the parts were removed, such as the lights and tires, likely for recycling. Meanwhile, fish and seaweed seem to be turning the car into their new home.
Remains From The First Naval Battle
In 2013, it was announced that archeologists found the remains of what is the first ancient naval battle ever discovered. It is believed to have taken place off of the coast of Sicily at the Battle of the Egadi Islands, which was the last conflict of the first Punic War in 241 BC. An array of 2,000-year-old artifacts were discovered at the bottom of the ocean floor ranging from weapons, battering rams, helmets, armor, and pieces of ships.
During the battle, it is figured that 50 Carthaginian ships were sunk by the Romans, resulting in the deaths of over 10,000 men. A bloody way to conclude history’s first naval battle.
The Sunken City of Pavlopetri
Off of the coast of southern Laconia in Greece, there is an ancient underwater city dating back to 5,000 years ago. Named Pavlopetri, it is considered to be the oldest known submerged city in the world. From what has been discovered, it appears that the city was well designed with roads, temples, gardens, storehouses, homes, and a functioning water system.
In 2009, it had been announced that the city extends to over nine acres and is believed to have been inhabited in 2800 BC. The city is thought to have sunk in 1000 BC due to earthquakes and shifting land, yet the city is still so preserved that archeologists have been able to create incredibly accurate 3D models of the once inhabited city.
Lost Egyptian City Of Heracleion
In 2000, French underwater archeologist Franck Goddio, along with a team from the European Institute of Underwater Archaeology, discovered the ruins of a 1,200-year-old lost city 30 feet under the water of the Mediterranean Sea in Aboukir Bay, near Alexandria. The city was known as Heracleion to the Greeks and Thonis to the Egyptians and was discovered to have been a mandatory port of entry for trade between the Mediterranean and the Nile.
There have been hundreds of artifacts unearthed ranging from religious 16-foot stone sculpture to gold coins, and weights from Athens. The city was believed to have sunk due to an earthquake due to the weight of the cities large buildings on the clay and soil below.
The Ancient Shipwreck Capital of the World
Since 2015, 22 shipwrecks from ancient Greece have been discovered in the Fourni archipelago. Today, the Fourni archipelago is a small collection of the relatively insignificant islands, but in ancient times, it was one of the most established places for maritime trade. The dozens of shipwrecks range from 480 to 700 BC and even as late as the 16th century and earned the title of the “ancient shipwreck capital of the world.”
The artifacts collected from the shipwrecks have helped historians learn much about the evolution of sailing and the lives of the sailors over hundreds of years.
The Hanneke Wrome
In 2015, it was announced that an archeological diving team aided by Finland’s most experienced shipwreck researcher Rauno Koivusaari discovered the remains of the 15th-century Hanseatic ship named the Hanneke Wrome. The Hanneke Wrome was one of two ships on their way from Germany when it sank off of the coast of Finland along with the 200 people aboard.
According to historical documents, it was carrying a cargo of 200 parcels of fabric, 1,200 barrels of honey, 10,000 gold coins and jewelry estimated to be around $150 million. From the wreckage recovered, the crew is certain that it was the Hanneke Wrome and the gold is expected to be recovered.
The Antikythera Shipwreck
In 1900, a ship, now known as the Antikythera shipwreck was discovered by a group of sponge divers off of the west coast of Antikythera, a small Greek island located between Crete and Peloponnese. It is estimated that the ship sank while sailing from Asia Minor to Rome around 60 BC.
The ship wreckage has produced numerous artifacts such as fine jewelry, bronze statues, glassware and more, there was also an artifact discovered now known as the Antikythera Mechanism that could predict eclipses and showed the movement of the sun and other planets. Although the ship has been known about for over 100 years, archeologists say there’s still much more to be discovered.
The Lost Continent Of Mu
Kihachiro Aratake discovered the “Lost Continent of Mu” in 1987. There is still some debate as to whether his discovery is actually the lost continent. Mu is supposedly a land much like Atlantis. It’s believed the entire population of Mu was forced to flee the area after a natural catastrophe struck the continent and it quickly sank. Researchers believe the citizens of Mu would go on to found civilizations like those in Egypt and Mesoamerica.
Aratake discovered various underwater ruins 20 feet below the surface of the water. A grandstand for the Sea Gods features a 250-foot base and lies 100 feet below the ocean’s surface while rising to a height of 80 feet. Researchers soon discovered that that structure was made from very fine sandstones and mudstones of the Lower Miocene Yaeyama Group.
An Ancient Battlefield Yards Off-Shore
In 2015, an international team of archeologists believes that they have found the island that was once the location of the ancient city of Kane. Located in the eastern Aegean Sea, it is also believed to be where the Battle of Arginusae took place between the Spartans and Athenians in 406 BC at the end of the Peloponnesian war.
The Arginusae islands, now known as the Garip islands, are only a few hundred yards off of the coast of Turkey and a third island that was believed to be where Kane was located. It was also discovered that the island was possibly connected to the peninsula by a land bridge in ancient times, however, has been washed away due to erosion.
A Girl Discovered a 1,500-Year-Old Sword at the Bottom of a Swedish Lake
Saga Vanecek was having a regular day when she discovered something incredible. The 8-year-old girl was searching for rocks near her family’s cabin in southern Sweden when she found a 33-inch sword.
Saga found the weapon, held it into the air and shouted, “Daddy, I found a sword!” The discovery launched Saga into the spotlight and now, people are calling her the “Queen of Sweden” and “Queen of the North.” The sword, which is made of wood, leather, and metal is estimated to be around 1,500 years old and from the Viking era. It’s currently at the Smithsonian.
Ancient Turkish Ruins In Lake Van
In 2017, in an archeological dive to explore Turkey’s lake Van, an underwater fortress was discovered. The lake is a deep blue color and a popular tourist attraction, so this came as a surprise to most. The archeological site spans around a kilometer and the visible areas of the fortress walls range from 10 to 13 feet.
It is assumed that these ruins are around 3,000 years old and were probably constructed during the Iron Age Urartian period and that Lake Van was a hub for the ancient society of Urartu. It is believed that the rising lake levels eventually submerged the city and a rock inscription, the oldest documented Urartian record can be found in the lake.
Located in Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, a flooded sinkhole known as Sac Uayum has been explored by underwater archeologists and has led to some interesting discoveries. The sinkhole is a cenote, which is a natural pit from the collapse of limestone which exposes the groundwater beneath. Although the cenote is believed to be cursed and haunted by a local legend for centuries, when explored by archeologists, it was discovered that there were two connected chambers with human bones scattering the floor.
The skulls were not typical but were elongated, a practice performed to young children in ancient times. This discovery led the archeologists to believe cenote was not a sacrificial site but a burial ground for plague victims.
The Danish Figurehead
In 2015, the figurehead of the 15th-century Danish warship Gribshunde was brought up from the depths. The Gribshunde which means “Grip Dog” in English had been at the bottom of the Baltic Sea since 1495. The figurehead was intended to strike fear into the heart of its enemies and features a sea monster with a dragon’s face and lion ears with a person being eaten in its mouth.
Figureheads were used as a form of identification so that people could recognize various vessels without the need for reading or writing. The ship served as the flagship for King Hans of Denmark royal fleet until it caught on fire off the coast of Sweden and remained at the bottom until it was discovered in the 1970’s and then identified in 2015.
India’s Lost City
In 2001, marine scientists discovered remains 120 feet underwater in the Gulf of Cambay off the western coast of India. They concluded that the remains are from the ancient holy city of Dwarka, which is now one of the best-studied underwater sites in India. They discovered a large number of stone structures that are scattered over a vast area and is believed to be a city from Hindu myth.
These findings have helped archeologists conclude that Dwarka was one of the busiest trading centers on the west coast of ancient India and that the remains could be from between the Historical and late medieval period and that the city existed well before it was flooded.
The Pantelleria Bank Monolith
In 2015, during a mapping of the seafloor around Sicily, researchers discovered a monolith that was over 39 feet at the bottom of the Mediterranean in an area known as the Pantelleria Bank. The researchers then sent divers down only to discover that the monolith had been broken in half, but many pieces of evidence established that it was, in fact, man-made and probably around the Mesolithic period around 10,000 years ago.
Because it had three holes all with similar diameters and the stone didn’t match the rocks on the ocean floor, it was thought that the holes were most likely used to hold torches and acted like a lighthouse all of those thousands of years ago.
The Yonaguni Monument
In 1985, a 600 foot wide and 90-foot high monument was discovered off of the coast of Japan by a dive tour operator. After the monument had been tested, it was estimated to date around 10,000 BC, which is more than 5,000 years before the first pyramids were built in Egypt.
Some claim that the structure is a piece of sandstone that was modified by humans when it was still above water, explaining the rectangular cuts and unidentifiable hieroglyphs. Others, however, believe that it is a natural formation formed by seismic activity and that the marking is just scratching on the rock.
Lost Kingdom Of Cleopatra
Located in the waters off Alexandria, Egypt, the Lost Kingdom of Cleopatra was hidden from the world for 1,600 years. A team of marine archaeologists, led by Frenchman Franck Goddio started excavating the ancient city in 1998. The city is believed to have become submerged after several earthquakes and tidal waves claimed the area. Shockingly, several artifacts remained mostly intact upon the discovery.
Among the discovers was Cleopatra’s royal living quarters. The ocean palace also featured shipwrecks, red granite columns, and statues of the goddess Isis. A sphinx was also discovered as divers continued to explore the Lost Kingdom of Cleopatra.
The Hidden Sphinx
In 2014, a team of underwater archeologists studying a shipwreck near the coast of the Bahamas stumbled upon an artifact that they were not expecting. What they found under the water was a statue resembling the Egyptian Great Sphinx. Historian jack Neilson notes that “its construction confirms beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the statue is of Middle Eastern origin” and most likely directly from Egypt.
The chemical analysis of the monument showed that it was almost positively taken from a quarry near Wadi Rahanu, an Egyptian region known for its quarrying in 3500 BC. Although how it got there is still masked in mystery it is assumed that it has been below the waters for more than 2,500 years.
Lake Michigan’s Stonehenge
In 2007, while scanning for shipwrecks in Lake Michigan, Mark Holley, a professor of underwater archaeology at Northwestern Michigan University and his colleague Brian Abbot found something of interest. Using sonar equipment, they found a row of stones that seemed out of place and sent divers down to investigate. They found a line of stones in a featureless lake bed as well as what looks like the carving of a mastodon on one of the stones, an animal that was believed to have been extinct for 10,000 years.
Although there are no clear facts and an investigation is underway, both researchers, as well as skeptics, believe that the structure and the supposed hieroglyphs are worth looking into.
First Olive Oil Production Center
Off of the coast of Haifa Israel, a 7,500-year-old well has been discovered as well as the remains of what appears to be a Neolithic village. The artifacts date back from a pre-metal and pre-pottery village that is now 16 feet underwater due to rising sea levels over time. The discovery helps provide further evidence as to how prehistoric societies worked, traded and used the environment around them to survive.
At the site, they also discovered thousands of crushed olive stones and what looks to be early olive oil production technology, begging the question if this was the oldest olive oil production center in the world.
Mongolian Invasion Shipwreck Discovered
During the 13th century, the grandson of Ghengis Khan, Kublai Khan led the Mongols in an attempt to invade Japan twice in 1274 and 1281 AD. Yet, the attempts were futile as on both occasions, the fleets were destroyed due to massive typhoons. Then in 2014, one of the Mongolian ships was discovered off of the coast of Takashima Island and Nagasaki Prefecture.
The ship was found 45 feet underwater using sonar equipment and when divers went down, they discovered that the ship was relatively well-preserved and provides further insight into the intentions of the ship as well as sailing back in that time period.