4 wreckages lost and found in the Bermuda Triangle
The Bermuda Triangle: Into Cursed Waters explores the stories of the thousands of wreck sites within the Bermuda Triangle. The show premiers on Sky HISTORY in January, as part of Mystery Season 2023.
The Bermuda Triangle is most famous for its alleged ability to make things vanish. For centuries, more than 50 ships and 20 aircraft (and all of their passengers) have disappeared in the large triangular area of the Atlantic Ocean that falls between Bermuda, Florida, and Puerto Rico.
Reports of disappearances in the Bermuda Triangle can be dated back to Christopher Columbus, with documented records of missing ships from as early as 1800. Despite this, we’re still no closer to any answers about why this particular stretch of open water is the location of many ship and aircraft disappearances.
In recent months, the Bermuda Triangle has again been in the spotlight thanks to the discovery of part of the Space Shuttle Challenger. While NASA has yet to officially comment on the discovery, it prompted more people to ask what else might be hiding in and around the waters of the Bermuda Triangle.
Here are some things that have been lost and found in the Bermuda Triangle.
LOST: USS Cyclops
The USS Cyclops was one of four collier cargo ships built for the United States Navy in 1910. Originally designed for bulk-carrying cargo such as coal, when the ship set off from Brazil in February 1918, it was carrying a payload that was far more dangerous.
Thought to be overloaded with cargo when it set sail for Baltimore, the USS Cyclops was weighed down with over 11,000 tonnes of manganese ore, despite only being designed to transport 8,100 tonnes. Less than a month later, the USS Cyclops and the 306 crew members had disappeared without a trace.
There have been multiple theories over the century since the ship went missing. While some speculate that the unstable payload could have been the cause of the ship's disappearance, others suspect that it was sunk by the Germans, who didn’t want the manganese arriving at its destination.
Some have commented on the sobriety of the ship’s captain, while others have discussed that the ship wasn’t in suitable condition to sail, let alone while overloaded. To date, no wreckage has ever been found.
FOUND: SS Cotopaxi
The SS Cotopaxi was also a bulk shipping carrier. Built during WWI, the Cotopaxi had already had its fair share of near-misses by the time it disappeared in December 1925. From a grounding incident in Brazil to a collision in Havana, the Cotopaxi had considerable bad luck.
When it set off on its final voyage on 29th November 1925, it was laden with a cargo of coal destined for Havana. Just two days later, a distress signal was received from the crew stating that they were taking on water from a tropical storm.
It wasn’t until 95 years later, in 2020, that the fate of the SS Cotopaxi was revealed. Discovered just off the coast of St Augustine, Florida (just outside the generally accepted borders of the Bermuda Triangle), the Cotopaxi was identified by marine biologist Michael Barnett after 15 years of intense investigation.
LOST: Flight 19
Flight 19 comprised five General Motors TBM Avenger torpedo bombers that set off on a navigational training flight from St Lauderdale, Florida, on 5th December 1945. The five planes, along with their crew of 14, disappeared somewhere over the Bermuda Triangle. After completing their bombing runs, the crews of Flight 19 became increasingly aware that they were off course and struggling to navigate their way back to safety.
Transmissions revealed that flight members were struggling to orient themselves over the waters of the Atlantic, and compass readings were failing them. The final transmission revealed that Flight 19 was running out of fuel, and if they weren’t able to orient themselves soon, they would have to ditch into the ocean.
Worse still, the crew of 13 aboard the rescue flying boat that had been sent to look for wreckage were also lost while undertaking a search and rescue mission for Flight 19. To this day, the wreckage of Flight 19 or their rescue boat have yet to be found.
FOUND: Space Shuttle Challenger?
While searching for what they thought might be the wreckage of Flight 19 just outside of the northwest border of the Bermuda Triangle, divers discovered a 4.5-metre by 4.5-metre piece of wreckage that they believe is part of the Space Shuttle Challenger.
The team made the discovery while filming for History Channel’s The Bermuda Triangle: Into Cursed Waters, and while NASA has yet to verify the discovery, the unique pattern of thermal tiles on the wreckage is similar to those seen on NASA space shuttles, hinting that this could be a significant discovery.
The launch of the Challenger was watched live across the US on 28th January 1986 thanks to the inclusion of schoolteacher Christa McAuliffe - the first private citizen who was chosen by NASA to go to space. Just 73 seconds after takeoff, the Challenger exploded over the Atlantic Ocean, killing everyone on board.