Happy Tuesday, everyone. This week, we're travelling back outside Canadian waters, but still sticking with the theme of close-to-shore wrecks. When I was looking for a topic this week, this one struck me not because the ship had a particularly enticing career, or because she was a mega-ship, but because she was so recent. With such interest in the wreck of the Costa Concordia just a couple of years ago, I was genuinely surprised that as recently as 2000 this particular ship had just been left to rust away in a secluded cove of the Solomon Islands. This week, we look at the wreck of the M/S World Discoverer.
- Nationality: Danish/Singapore/Liberian
- Length: 87 metres
- Beam: 15 metres
- Draught 4.6 metres
- Weight: 3,724 tonnes
- Capacity: 137 passengers
- Crew: 70-80
- Decks: 7
- Speed: 16.5 knots
- Year: 1973
Built for BEWA Cruises of Denmark and originally named M/S BEWA Discoverer, she was launched in 1973 and set out on her maiden voyage one year later. In 1976, she was sold to the company Adventure Cruises, renamed World Traveler, and registered in Singapore. It was under this new ownership that she set out on her Pacific routes that would define her career. From November to February she could be found touring the Antarctic, the Falkland Islands, Chile and Argentina. March to May and August to October, she sailed through the islands of the South Pacific. And from June to August, she sailed around Alaska, the Northwest Passage, and up through the Bering Sea. She was also a 1A Ice Class vessel, which meant she could handle some small ice floes if she had to.
Like many adventure cruises, she was also outfitted with a fleet of small, lightweight boats. These would be launched from the ship and could take passengers on various expeditions led by geologists, marine biologists, and historians. This gave passengers a unique experience that made the Discoverer a very popular ship.
But of course, you know if I'm writing about her here, her career didn't last. On April 30, 2000, she was sailing through Sandfly Passage, Soloman Islands. Suddenly, she struck a large, uncharted rock (or reef), and immediately began taking on water. The Captain issued a mayday, but the ship was clearly not going to make it through the collision. A nearby passenger ferry was dispatched to the ship and helped evacuate the passengers and crew. The captain limped his ship into Roderick Bay, Nggela Island, and grounded her. She came to rest at a 46 degree list, and was eventually declared a constructive loss.
Ever since the day of the wreck, the ship has sat in the bay, rusting away. A salvage mission was attempted, but it was discovered that the wreck had already been stripped of anything of value by local residents. There is some concern that as the ship continues to degrade, eventually the fuel tanks and other engine parts will begin to leak oil, lubricants, and fuel into the surrounding water. For now, the ship sits quietly, and has become a tourist attraction for locals and other cruise ships alike. (Though, I have to say, I'd be pretty freaked out cruising along and hearing "And to our left, a ship that wasn't so lucky. Hopefully we miss that rock! Haha...").
Until next time!