There are an estimated 3 million shipwrecks gracing the bottom of the ocean floor that have yet to be found. These ships tell stories of the people who sailed them, hold answers to why they ended up at the bottom of the sea and some hold untold riches. For the 3 million ships that have sunk many of them were carrying cargo of precious metals and priceless gems, it is believed that billions of dollars in riches are doing nothing but languishing on the sea floor.
Here are just a few of the most famous ships that disappeared to the depths never to be seen again. Some hold wealth in the form of gold and gems, others in the form of information about the ship and the people who sailed her. Millions of dollars have been spent trying to find these ships so it is unknown if they will ever be found.
The Merchant Royal
The Merchant Royal first set sail in 1627 and from 1637 to 1640 the ship traded with the Spanish colonies in the West Indies. In 1641, the Merchant Royal was docked in Cadiz on her way home to London but was leaking after her long voyage in the West Indies. Despite this Captain Limbrey heard of a Spanish ship that had caught fire and was unable to deliver treasure to pay 30,000 Spanish soldiers in Flanders. He decided that he could make himself and his men extra money by taking the treasure to Antwerp on the way home to London.
However, the Merchant Royal continued to leak and never made it to Antwerp and on September 23rd, 1641 it sank off Land’s End. The ship took 18 men with it to the depths while Captain Limbrey and 40 men survived in boats and were picked up by the Merchant Royal’s sister ship the Dover Merchant. All of the treasure on board the ship that was meant to be turned into cash to pay 30,000 soldiers was lost. On board the ship was 100,000 pounds of gold, 400 bars of Mexican silver, and 500,000 pieces of eight and various other coins.
The bounty aboard the Merchant Royal makes it one of the most valuable shipwrecks in history with an estimated value of over $1.5 billion. The value of the wreck has made it highly sought after and the Odyssey Marine Exploration company has spent years trying to find the ship. In 2007 it was rumored the Merchant Royal had been found but the ship was later believed to be the Nuestra Senora de las Mercedes. A 2009 Discovery Channel special focused on the company’s efforts to find the ship with no success.