The 10 Most Mysterious Ghost Ships of the Maritime World

Anything can happen while on the sea, such as disasters, loss of life, and even ships becoming ghosts. There are famous real-time stories of ships that disappeared in thin air without any trace. However, such circumstances have been present since man began traveling, and every generation has a story to tell.

This does not only happen to the smaller vessels, as some marine legends have disappeared, and the stories remain mysterious. Countless ships have disappeared worldwide, and this post articulates the ten most mysterious ghost ships that trigger speculation.

Mary Celeste

Different sources have summed up many theories regarding what happened to Mary Celeste. The two-mastered brigantine ship departed from New York City and headed to Genoa, Italy, on November 7th, 1872.

It was carrying alcohol, seven crew members, captain Benjamin Spooner and his family. The most mysterious fact about the ship is that it was found adrift with no signs of attack. In fact, Mary Celeste had food and belongings that would last the crew for six months.

Painting of Mary Celeste merchant brigantine
Painting of Mary Celeste merchant brigantine

Although the ship’s floor seemed to be three feet flooded, its situation was not close to flooding or repair. The lifeboat was missing, which has stirred numerous stories that have made the ship’s disappearance more famous.

Some say the captain feared an alcohol explosion, so he ordered permanent evacuation from the ship. This is because the barrels are speculated to have noxious fumes. While on the lifeboat, the tow line may have become loose, which separated them. They watched the ship go adrift while they were left in the vast waters.

Another story is that Mary Celeste had a bad pump. Before its designated trip to Genoa, the ship had previously carried coal. It had also undergone substantial renovations and repairs, and such could have clogged the pump. In addition, the ship’s two pumps were found dismantled, which adds more mysteries.

The Flying Dutchman

The legendary ghost ship has been one of the most mysterious and an inspiration to films, paintings, and books. Many sailors and fishermen claim to have seen the haunted ship sail the seas forever, as it is believed that the Flying Dutchman is cursed for eternity.

Its “curse” began when the Captain, Van der Decken, strived hard to steer the ship in harsh weather conditions while maneuvering the Cape of Good Hope.

Since the 17th century, numerous stories have arisen due to the mysteries of the Flying Dutchman. According to some, the vessel was cursed, while others state that the ship’s captain was not destined to make it, even with the utmost effort.

The mystery of the vessel also serves as a lesson to arrogant people. It also serves those who are reckless while in the vast waters.

Popular movies and TV series based on the Flying Dutchman mystery include Dead Man’s Chest, Pandora, and the Flying Dutchman. Numerous sources have reported various sightings of the mysterious ship, and most of them say that they spotted the ship while the weather was rough and scary.

SV Kaz II

SV Kaz ll mystery can be compared to Mary Celeste and other famous ships where the crew and members disappear without a trace. Such stories are associated with pirate attacks or harsh weather conditions that led to people fleeing.

The ship was found 88 miles off the coast of Australia, five days after it departed from Airlie Beach in April 2007.

According to various reports, the ship’s steering was executed by three inexperienced sailors. When the ship was found adrift, everything was in pristine condition except for the missing sailors. Food was on the table, and the engine was running, meaning the crew had disappeared just a while ago. There was also a laptop computer, a newspaper, and piled clothes on the table. It is only one sail that was shredded.

The three middle-aged men’s bodies have never been discovered, which has stirred numerous theories such as insurance fraud, pirates, and drowning. Most reports believe that drowning is what transpired after one tried to unwrap a fishing line on the vessel’s propeller. He fell overboard, and unfortunate events happened when the others tried to rescue him.

The Octavius

The mystery of the Octavius began after 1761 when she was destined to transport cargo from London to China. They arrived in China and offloaded the cargo, after which the ship was loaded with goods on its way back. Octavius’s captain decided to use the Northwest Passage, which was not accomplished by then. That was the last time the vessel was seen with its cargo and crew.

It was spotted by the whaling ship Herald in Greenland. When they approached the ship, they noted that the sails were torn and hanging loosely. The captain instructed a section of his crew to search the vessel, where they later discovered it was the Octavius. They maneuvered down the ladder and found all 28 crew members frozen.

The captain was seated in his cabin with a pen at hand and the logbook opened on the desk. A woman was also on the bunk, frozen beside a young dead boy. It was a terrifying sight for the searching crew, but they managed to take the ship’s log. They later discovered that Octavius was trapped by ice in the Artic, which killed the entire crew.

The SS Valencia

Although over 100 years have passed since the sinking of the SS Valencia, its remains are still visible along the shoreline. The incident happened in 1906 and is regarded as one of the worst disasters in maritime history. SS Valencia was prominent due to its mixed history of transporting cargo, passengers, and troops.

Passenger ship SS Valencia wrecked on Vancouver Island
Passenger ship SS Valencia wrecked on Vancouver Island

Its sinking was after the vessel struck a reef in stormy weather that made navigation hectic. SS Valencia sank on the coast of Vancouver, British Columbia, resulting in the death of 108 people. Thirty-seven people were lucky as they were saved using lifeboats, and yet one vanished without a trace.

The sinking happened just 50 meters off the shore. Its captain tried hard to rescue the ship to the shore but struck other rocks, which further damaged the ship. Water started creeping in, and the high waves and winds made the situation more catastrophic. The remains of the wreck are still untouched, but some have been carried away by the rough waters. You can pay a visit to the West Coast Trail to view the remains of the SS Valencia wrecked on Vancouver Island.

The Carroll A. Deering

Carroll A. Deering was built in Bath, Maine, United States, and was a beautiful five-mastered schooner. The ship had a short period of service as it was found alone in the Diamond Shoals of North Carolina. During its time, the ship was the largest ever built by G. G Deering Company, destined to carry 3,500 tons of coal.

The ship had operated for a year and a half before the mysterious incident happened. It was captained by William H. Merritt and his son and onboarded nine crew members.

Merritt fell ill and could not captain the ship. They headed to the port at Lewes, where Merritt and his son got off. Deering company had to choose another captain, W. B. Wormell, a 66-year-old retired veteran, together with Charles B. McLellan.

They sailed up to Rio de Jeneiro with no complications. After arriving, the captain gave the crew some time off but seemed bothered by his first mate, McLellan. On the return journey, McLellan got extremely drunk and complained a lot about Wormell. He even stated that he would execute all the navigation and claimed his partner had poor eyesight. The last time Carroll A. Deering was seen was seen was at Cape Lookout, Carolina, on January 29th, 1921, and was recognized by a lightship.

High Aim 6

The Taiwanese fishing ship is one of the mysterious ghost ships found adrift in Australian waters on January 8th, 2003. Its last sight was when it was leaving a Taiwan Port on Halloween.

The most astonishing thing about High Aim 6’s mysteries is that its engines were running and fully fueled. In addition, all the provisions and crew’s belongings were present, and there was no indication of damage in any section of the boat.

Several theories have been invented after the mystery, such as the ship transporting illegal immigrants. There was also a crew member who was tracked down by the authorities, and after serious scrutiny, he stated that the vessel’s crew had mutinied, but no explanations were provided.

He also stated that the captain and the engineer were murdered, and the narratives are all unclear. Due to insufficient evidence, it became difficult to determine what happened to the crew. Additionally, there were no reasons behind the mystery of the High Aim 6.

MV Joyita

The 70 feet luxury yacht disappeared in 1955 with all its passengers. MV Joyita was launched in 1931, and its owner was a famous Hollywood director, Roland West, who named it after his wife. It was a Pacific patrol boat in World War ll and was still in pristine condition after the war. In the 1950s, the vessel was converted to a fishing charter.

The ship was believed to be unsinkable as it was made of wood and quality materials, which increased its buoyancy. But on October 3rd, 1955, MV Joyita departed Apia, Samoa, and headed to Tokelau Islands. Although one of the engines had malfunctioned, they considered the journey safe as it was short (270 miles) and the weather was convenient.

MV Joyita sailed with wooden construction materials and medical supplies, and the journey was projected to be 48 hours. However, the ship went missing after three days overdue, and efforts to patrol the area did not locate the ship. It was later spotted after five weeks by the Tuvalu ship, 1000 km west.

The Jian Seng

After its disappearance, Jian Seng was sighted by the Australian Coast watch in 2006. No backstory can solve the mystery, as there were no traces of distress calls, belongings, or identifying documents.

It is one of the most astonishing stories of ghost ships as its origin was unrecognized, and no one was found in the abandoned tanker. The only identifiable thing was that its name was painted on the sides.

It is believed that Jian Seng re-supplied fishing vessels at sea as it was found with a large amount of rice. But its engines were found malfunctioned, and Australian authorities claim that it had been abandoned for some time.

Jian Seng had a broken tow rope, indicating that it got lost while dragged. Despite all these stories, nothing has ever solved the mystery behind Jian Seng.

The Sam Ratulangi

Myanmar’s commercial capital fishermen discovered the vessel, and it is believed that the ship was abandoned after the crew feared bad weather.

It was spotted in August 2018 with no people or cargo. Further research revealed that Sam Ratulangi was being towed by a tugboat when intense weather struck.

It was last seen on the coast of Taiwan in 2009 and became the first-ever abandoned ship in Myanmar’s waters. About 50 miles off the coast, a tug boat named Independence was found and 13 Indonesian crew members were questioned. They said that the boat was being towed to a factory in Bangladesh where it was to be dismantled.

Bottom Line

There are numerous stories about ghost ships, but some are more mysterious and intriguing. These ships disappear, and there is no substantial evidence that can map how they disappear and the fate of the crew members. They are also some of the most prominent ships around the world which makes their disappearance more mysterious.

What makes these scenarios more confusing is that some are found with food, belongings, and fuel enough to sail them through. In addition, there are minimal instances where boats are damaged, or force was utilized before evacuating. But the vast seas have more wonders than you could ever imagine, and the above article has discussed the ten top mysterious ghost ships in the maritime world.  

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