3D Thursday – Shipwreck on Fanning Island

Shipwreck-1Tabuaeran, Republic of Kiribati.

Some 1135 miles (1826 km) due south of Hawaii, a small coral atoll is one of the closest landfalls to the 50th state in the United States. Fanning Island, as the British named Tabuaeran, is one of the most exotic places we’ve ever visited. For a number of years, the island, part of the Line Islands chain, found itself on the itinerary of Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL), a weekly stop due to an old United States Maritime Law. The cruise ships are mostly gone these days leaving the 2500 or so residents without the regular income they enjoyed from the visitors arriving via cruise ships. One of the remnants of NCL’s regular visits is an elementary school built for the permanent residents in partial compensation for bringing cruise passengers to the island.

A coral atoll is a ring-shaped coral island that surrounds a relatively shallow lagoon. The coral island of Tabuaeran is governmentally controlled by the Republic of Kiribati, an Island government comprised of 33 coral atolls. The capital of the Republic is Tarawa, known by many history aficionados for World War II combat. The total population of the Republic is over 100,000 as of 2013.

The photo above features the rusting remains of a shipwreck, long ago abandoned. I searched in vain trying to find out details of the shipwreck on the Internet. I guess the Internet isn’t knowledgeable about everything! You can read about our trip and visit my Tabuaeran gallery of images here.

John Steiner


  1. Tabuaeran, Republic of Kiribati… Never been there. The 5 gallon tip bucket industry is clearly a native specialty. 🙂

    • That shipwreck in Fanning Island lagoon is a 85 ft steel tug that ran aground in 1993.
      We visited this island in 2003 during a NCL 7 day Hawaii cruise and this was the explanation we were given at that time by NCL.

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