The map above shows many (but not all of) of the ships sunk during World War 2. The map was created by Rean Monfils and combines the Geographic Information System (GIS) database of Asian Pacific shipwrecks with the Atlantic, Mediterranean and Indian Ocean (AMIO) WWII shipwreck database.
The GIS database has records of 3,800 vessels lost in WWII while the AMIO database has records of a further 3,950 vessels. The combined total of WWII shipwrecks stands at 7,807 vessels worldwide according to The Global Risk of Marine Pollution from WWII Shipwrecks:Examples from the Seven Seas.
Obvious omissions from the map include Hawaii (location of Pearl Harbor), Midway and many missing ships from the Baltic Sea campaigns. This is presumably due to the fact that these wrecks are not part of either database at the time of the maps creation (2004).
To learn more have a look at the following books:
- SS Thistlegorm: WW2’s Greatest Shipwreck
- In Harm’s Way: The Sinking of the U.S.S. Indianapolis and the Extraordinary Story of Its Survivors
- Shadow Divers: The True Adventure of Two Americans Who Risked Everything to Solve One of the Last Mysteries of World War II
- Death in the Baltic: The World War II Sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff
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Well that’s interesting. I’m working on putting my own database together and am about 85% of the way through the way with about 11,000 records, 8,000 of them with positions. I’ll be delving into this a lot more. Thanks for the post.
would you perhaps be interested in sharing this database? im creating an interactive ww2 map for public use, id love to have this inthere
Paul Heersink says
Here’s the somewhat finished product: https://exchange.maps.arcgis.com/apps/opsdashboard/index.html#/1fe3381b1bdd43c78c9e02f33859c55a
Paul Heersink says
The above link previous posted has been updated to https://mapsterman.maps.arcgis.com/apps/dashboards/fe88b5e18c6443c7afaf6e32f8432687
Updated link here: https://mapsterman.maps.arcgis.com/apps/dashboards/fe88b5e18c6443c7afaf6e32f8432687
Mark Smith says
I have a book published by the Naval Ordnance Laboratory in 1973, “Mines Against Japan” that claims 1075 sinkings by the mining campaign. I suspect this info is not among Paul Heersink’s data sources. When I checked the Shimonoseki Straits (now, Kanmon Straits) there are only 8 listed, but my book claims over 140 went down there.
If Mr. Heersink will PM me on Facebook (MarkTheTechsmith) I can scan and send data from the book. It does localize the sinkings but doesn’t identify the ships.
The N.O.L. used data from Japan’s official records after the war.
Barry Belko says
I’ve been doing some research on the same subject but focusing on vessels loaded with chemical and /or gas munitions that were intentionally scuttled in the Atlantic.
Finding records that identify the exact type and quantity of sunken cargo is daunting, however I believe the total tonnage has been highly under estimated.
Furthermore, several vessels sank while being towed and the locations are often stated as a general location rather than specific locations.
The unseen and impending enviromental disaster is enormous yet given so little attention.
Dr. G. David Shows says
My father was a Merchant Marine in WWII, joined when he was 15 by lying about his age. Dad talks about only certain things. He could never watch the “Titanic” because “it’s the thing I fought my life against. It’s the death of a ship and people”. Everyone of those spots represents people lost to horrific circumstances. Ships had to keep moving as others were sank. On the Mermansk run my father was on only a dozen ships made it out of around 40.
The British have a war memorial to their merchant fleet; I’ve been there. As an island nation they appreciate the sacrifice by Merchant sailors. Unfortunately the U.S. armed services during the war minimized their service, even though they had the highest casualty rate of the war. Thanks to the U.S. who officially recognized them as veterans in 1988. And many thanks for this map. It makes me appreciate the sacrifice these men made all the more.
And the German cruiser Admiral Graf Spee that sunk of Montevideo in Uruguay?
Mary Ann says
Where is the entire western half of the United States & Canada? Looks like someone lopped it off with a pair of scissors!