Facts About Shipwrecks

May 20, 2008
By Jacqui G., Marietta, GA

If you ever asked someone what they think a shipwreck is you might get a different answer depending on who you ask. People may say it’s when a ship sinks or it’s the remains of a sunken ship. People may think it’s a fountain of knowledge or a disastrous event. Every single one of those answers is right. A shipwreck is all those things and more.
Shipwrecks have been happening ever since ships have been around, which has been thousands of years. They have been sinking for many reasons: waves and wind beating the ship or fire burning it down to the water. These and many other things can cause ship wrecks.
Hurricanes, with deadly fast winds and never ending rain, can destroy ships; even bring them up onto land. If a ship steers to close to the deadly reef, the sharp coral can pierce the bottom of the ship. Sometimes there are sandbanks in the ocean which spells disaster for ships if they run a ground. Fog can be a problem too. In the olden days when they didn’t have radar they would get lost in the fog and sometimes go miles of course. All of these things can devastate anyone onboard.
Many ships sink every year. And right now about three million ships are estimated to be on the ocean floor undiscovered. There are also the hundreds of ships that have already been discovered. Think about how many ships that is. Shipwrecks are no joke. The greatest loss of this century was when a German ocean liner sank in 1945 killing 7,000 to 8,000 people.
When a ship sinks the first thing people want to do is get off the ship. How do they do that? The key to getting off a sinking ship is lifeboats.
Every boat has lifeboats; it’s against the law not to. Whether it’s a small boat or a huge ship, if it’s sinkable and it carries passengers it needs lifeboats. Even ships that were thought to be unsinkable had lifeboats on it. Think about the Titanic for example. People survived it sinking because it had life boats on the ship. The Titanic didn’t have enough lifeboats on the ship to save everyone though. Now every ship has to have enough life boats to save all the passengers. I mean lifeboats save lives, so we need to have them.

Getting stuck in a shipwreck is bad, really, really, bad. So, what if you were on a bout that was sinking and you survived the ship sinking? Would you be whooping for joy? Surviving the wreck is good news, right? “Those who escape a sinking ship celebrate their good luck only briefly, for their ordeal is just beginning.” (Platt, 38) It’s great when you survive the wreck, but then you have to be drifting at sea for weeks, months, or maybe even years. Surviving at sea isn’t easy work.
First you have no water to drink. You may be surrounded by salt water, but you can’t drink it because it will only make you more dehydrated. Second there’s a need for shelter. If you get abandoned in a cold region you need shelter to protect you from the cold. In tropical regions you need shelter too. You need to be protected from the sun so you don’t get sunburns and blisters. What about food? Well, you need food to survive but the body can go without food for an amazingly long time.

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