What are the Main Reasons for Sinking Ships?

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The sinking of a ship is a dreaded incident from the perspective of both sight and sound. When a ship sinks, it not only takes human lives with it, but also years of hard work, investment, and sentiments. Whatever might be the reasons, sinking of ship is tried to be avoided under all circumstances. However, in spite of all the precautions, ships do sink because of some odd reasons. What are these odd reasons? Let’s find out.


Collision is one of the foremost reasons, which has lead to the sinking of hundreds of ships in the past. Collision of the ship can be with any thing such as with jetty, another ship, offshore platforms, etc. Collision can even be with natural obstacles such as icebergs. After all, who can forget the sinking of the beautiful Titanic? Sometimes the collision of ships also occurs with huge rocks and coral reefs.

Rough Weather, Storms and Rogue Waves

A famous saying is “No ship can fight Mother Nature.” In fact, Mother Nature has been the reason behind the sinking of maximum number of ships in the past. Monstrous waves, rough weather, and rouge waves are a few of the faces of Nature that can sink any kind and type of ship in the world. Rough weather and monstrous waves have been the reason behind sinking of many large ships. Waves as high as a 10-15 story building have gulped many massive ships, forcing them to the bottom of the sea. Heavy storms and hurricanes have also been a major cause for the sinking of ships in the past.

Rogue waves, the freakish waves that attack a ship from the side and turn it over without any prior intimidation, have also been a reason behind many unfortunate ship disasters.

Equipment Breakdown

Nothing is worse than the breakdown of any machinery on ship, especially in a critical situation. Equipment breakdown in busy routes, canals, or near the ports can lead to collision or grounding. Many accidents, including the sinking of ships, have taken place because of this reason in the past. Machines that have often failed during critical processes such as maneuvering or berthing includes main engine, generators, steering gear, rudder, propeller, and bow thrusters. Breakdown of at least one of this machinery can create havoc in the ship’s operation. Machinery breakdown is often termed as an outcome of poor maintenance.

Inefficient Personnel

It is said that any kind of accident, major or minor, that takes place on a ship, is an outcome of a human error in some or the other form. Inefficient or careless crew is the worst liability a ship can have onboard. Many professionals don’t pay enough attention to proper maintenance and are negligent when it comes to routine checks. They attend machines with least required amount of safety and do not keep the surroundings in shipshape condition. Many professionals are even known to avoid machinery observation during daily routine rounds and thus increase the risk of accidents. Even on the deck side, professionals are seen ignoring weather forecasts, warnings, and other important signals. Extremely dangerous habits as they are, neglect and inattention have been the reason for the sinking of several ships in the past.

War and Piracy Attack

In the past, many ships have sunk after damaged by attacks from enemy ships. This generally happened when a ship from a particular country enters enemy’s waters or when a war was declared. Apart from this, piracy has also increased drastically in the past few years, especially in Somali waters. The modern Somali pirates are known for their highly advanced weapons such as rocket launchers and RPGs. These pirates have badly damaged many ships with their weapons in the past. Though no accidents involving ship sinking have been reported due to this, piracy attacks still hold great capabilities for sinking a ship.


Any ship that sinks gets flooded first, and then sinks. However, flooding can also happen due to several reasons. Most of the cases of ship flooding have occurred because of hull damage, which had lead to creation of cracks in the ship’s hull, allowing water to seep inside the ship. Other reasons for flooding are valve failure, damage due to grounding or collision, bursting of pipelines, etc. Flooding can also take place during bad weather and as a result of monstrous waves.