Although not part of the Island’s built environment in its strictest sense, there are still some shipwrecks that can be seen on its coastline and form part of its cultural and historical landscape. The Island, being a submerged mountain linked to the Cape mainland by an underground saddle made its coastline inhospitable because of the submerged rocks that lie around it.
A 1992 government survey of shipwrecks on the coast of the Island reflect that at least 22 ships were wrecked off Robben Island. Of this total, 10 were identified as British, 3 as Dutch and 3 as American ships. Some of the shipwrecks are still visible.
The first recorded shipwreck in 1611, on the northern shore, was of Dutch commercial sealers. In 1660, the “Schapenjacht” was wrecked and in 1694, the “Dageraad” which was carrying the treasures of the “Goude Buys”. The “Flora” was wrecked in 1821 and the “Perseverance” in 1826. Ten years later in 1836, the ‘Gondolier’ was wrecked.
In 1975 a 200 ton Taiwanese tuna fishing boat, Fong Chung II, ran aground on Whale Rock due to dense Fog. The following year in 1976, the Canadian hydrographic ship Goel No.1 was wrecked in a southeast gale on the southern tip of Robben Island. In 1986 a Koeran vessel called Daeyang Family, carrying 180,000 tons of iron ore, dragged her anchors in a storm and went onto the reef near Robben Island. This shipwreck remained fairly intact until the great gale of 1994, which left the wreck almost in half. It is not visible from the shore. That same year a South African yacht, Chanson de la Mer, ran aground on the island.
In 1998 a Taiwanese fishing trawler, Han Cheng, ran aground on the northern side of the island. During the same year in an attempt to pull the Hang Cheng off the rocks a South African service vessel, the Sea Challenger, also ran aground.