10 ‘Ghost Ships’ That Mysteriously Disappeared At Sea & Were Never Found

November 2, 2022 People's Tonight 223 views

Elizabeth Lundin

Humans are fascinated by stories of ghost ship disappearances. Why? Because humans are drawn to tales that leave us without answers. Stories of ghosts, the supernatural, alien intervention, and conspiracies may sound like something from science fiction, but these are the stories that have captured the human imagination since they first came to us through newspaper headlines and the mouths of whispering sailors.

These are the stories of ghost ships that haunt the high seas and the minds of everyone who reads about them. These are ships that disappeared without a trace, that simply stopped sailing, and that may have even murdered their own crews. History proves over and over that sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction. These are stories of eerie ghost ships that really happened, and nobody can explain how.


• The Crew Of The Mary Celeste Jumped Ship For No Reason

Mary1Photo: Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

In November of 1872, the Captain of the Mary Celeste, Benjamin Briggs, set sail from New York to Italy. He was traveling with his wife, daughter, and eight other shipmates.

On December 4 of the same year, the Mary Celeste was discovered, abandoned by her crew and set adrift in the Atlantic Ocean. According to the men of the British ship, Dei Gratia, who found her, the ship was completely intact with plenty of food and water to last her six months more of sailing. The ship’s log was written up to the 24th of November. The ship’s only lifeboat was missing.

To this day, nobody knows what caused the crew and passengers of the Mary Celeste to abandon a perfectly seaworthy ship in the middle of the Atlantic. The only thing anyone knows for sure is that the ship’s occupants left in a hurry. The Captain of the Dei Gratia wrote in his log that the crewmen of the Mary Celeste had left behind their smoking pipes. To him, this seemed a clear sign that the crew had abandoned the ship in a panic.

Today, the mystery of the Mary Celeste has still not been explained. Many theories have been broached, including mutiny, madness, and murder, but none have held water.

• • The Ourang Medan Murdered Its Crew

OurangPhoto: YouTube

In June of 1947, an officer aboard the British vessel the Silver Star picked up a mysterious, unsettling distress signal. It said: “All officers including captain are dead lying in chartroom and bridge.

Possibly whole crew dead.” Silence crackled across the line, then, one simple sentence: “I die.”

The message was picked up by several other ships in the area, but the Silver Star reached the source first. It was the Dutch freighter, Ourang Medan, floating adrift in the Straits of Malacca. The Star’s officer and crew boarded the ship to find bodies strewn about the decks, their faces fixed in a cry of pain. Even the ship’s dog was dead.

The bodies were unharmed. There was no sign of injury or attack. Before any further investigation could be done, however, the crew of the Silver Star smelled smoke and quickly abandoned the ship. They boarded their own escape vessel, cut the ties to the Ourang Medan, and sailed away. Within seconds, the ship exploded, leaving only empty water and debris in its wake.

To this day, no-one knows what really happened aboard the Ourang Medan in the seconds before the crew of the Silver Star arrived. As far as anyone knows, the ship murdered its captain, passengers, and crew, killing them without a trace. Some people believe that the ship was carrying biological weapons manufactured by the Japanese, but the mystery remains unsolved. The ship lives on in an infamy that rivals the mystery of even the Mary Celeste.

• • The Legend Of The Flying Dutchman Haunts The High Seas

DutchmanPhoto: Albert Pinkham Ryder / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

The Flying Dutchman first appeared in popular folklore in Holland. For years, Dutch sailors told the tale of a cursed sea captain, doomed forever to sail around the Cape of Good Hope. German sailors voyaging in this area of the world corroborated the legend, saying they had seen such a ship.

The tale emerged out of folklore and into reliable reports in the 19th century. One 1835 ship’s log stated that the Flying Dutchman appeared out of nowhere in a storm, with all sails unfurled, “bearing down on them.” Later, in 1881, another ship’s log wrote that the Flying Dutchman passed them, emitting an eerie red light. The same red light pops up in a tale told by two other ships in the surrounding area. How many logs and reports constitute a real phenomenon?

• • The Frozen Ghosts Aboard The Octavius Still Sail The Arctic

OctaviusPhoto: YouTube

In 1761, the Octavius loaded up with cargo from China and set sail for London. The crew would never be seen alive again.

The Captain of the Octavius thought it’d be a great idea to try and shorten his trip back to London by making the Arctic passage – a trip that had never before been made successfully. So, they set sail northward. It was a mistake that would cost every crew member his life.

The ship went missing for 13 years. Finally, in 1775, a whaling ship, the Herald, was sailing just off the coast of Greenland when it spotted the Octavius floating in the icy waters. The crew of the Herald boarded the Octavius and found the ship’s crew frozen solid below decks. The Captain of the ship was found at his desk, upright, frozen to death while in the middle of penning a ship’s log dated to 1762.

The crew of the Herald fled the ship immediately, leaving the Octavius to continue to wander the Arctic Ocean. Nobody has seen the ghost ship since.

• • The Young Teazer Returns Every Year To The Site Of The Crew’s Suicide

TeazerPhoto: C.H.J. Snidere / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

The Young Teazer wasn’t an innocent merchant ship or cruise ship making a return trip home. No, the Young Teazer was a pirate ship, an incredibly fast one. In 1813, the Young Teazer had made several successful raids around the coast of Nova Scotia when she was cornered in Mahone Bay by a Nova Scotian schooner captained by Sir John Sherbrooke.

Just moments before the British boarding parties could approach the boat, the Young Teazer exploded. According to reports, the first officer of the privateer had been seen rushing to the magazine, fire in hand.

The story of the Young Teazer might not seem like something too crazy. The pirates chose suicide over capture, sure, but the Teazer has inspired one of Nova Scotia’s most famous ghost stories: the story of the “Teazer Light.”

According to folklore, an orange glow can be seen in Mahone Bay and one can hear the crew screaming into the foggy night. Accounts say this happens every year on the anniversary of the explosion: June 27.

• • The Eliza Battle Still Burns On the Tombigbee

ElizaPhoto: YouTube

On March 1, 1858, the huge steamboat Eliza Battle caught fire in what would become the biggest maritime disaster in Tombigbee River – which flows between Mississippi and Alabama – history. 33 people died.

The Ship had been loaded with over 1,200 bales of cotton. Sometime during the night of March 1, a strong north wind began to blow, and somehow the cotton bales on deck caught fire. The flames soon engulfed the ship, and the passengers and crew jumped overboard.

Today, people still tell tales of sightings of the Eliza Battle floating down the river, wreathed in fire, and the sounds of 33 people screaming in pain and calling out for help.

• • The SS Valencia’s Lifeboat Was Untouchable

ValenciaPhoto: Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

In 1906, the SS Valencia was caught in a terrible storm off the coast of British Columbia. The ship was carrying 108 passengers. Only 37 of these were eventually rescued, and the ship itself became the subject of ghost stories from that day forward.

It began in 1910 when The Seattle Times reported sightings of a “phantom ship” that resembled the Valencia adrift in the area. Other reports from fishermen around British Columbia told the story of a lifeboat manned entirely by skeletons.

But stranger still, in 1933, the Valencia’s No. 5 lifeboat was found empty in Barkley Sound. Even after years of exposure to the harsh oceanic elements, the lifeboat was completely untouched and unharmed. Part of it is now on display at the Maritime Museum of British Columbia. While the wreckage of the Valencia was eventually found near a 100-foot-high bluff, this one detail has never been explained.

• • The Lady Lovibond Ruined Valentine’s Day

LovibondPhoto: YouTube

In the year of 1748, just before Valentine’s Day, the Lady Lovibond was sailing the high seas in honor of its Captain’s wedding. Unfortunately for the Captain, his best friend had been in love with his new bride, and in a fit of jealousy, he ran the ship aground on the Goodwin Sands of the English Channel, killing everyone on board.

Since then, there have been many reported sightings of the ship. The Captain of the Edenbridge reported that he nearly collided with a three-masted vessel off the Goodwin Sands, and the captain of a smaller fishing schooner reported the same. Many thought the ship had run aground, but no wreckage nor survivors were found in the nearby sands.
50 years later, local residents in Kent saw a ship with three masts heading on a collision course with the Goodwin Sands. Like before, a rescue party was sent. Yet no survivors or wreckage were ever found.

• • The MV Joyita Was Found Empty And Decaying In Fiji

JoyitaPhoto: Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

In 1955, the MV Joyita was overdue for its return home. Five weeks after its missed return date, the ship was found 600 miles off course in the South Pacific, completely abandoned and in bad condition. No distress signals had ever been received. The ship had never run into bad weather. The crewmen examining the ship smelled decay but found no signs of foul play or dead bodies anywhere. They did find a doctor’s bag on deck, however, littered with bloody bandages.

To this day, all anyone knows is that the crew abandoned ship. The pipes may have been corroded, and the radio may have not worked due to faulty wiring, but investigators still haven’t pieced together why the crew didn’t simply stay aboard and wait for help.

• • The Carroll A. Deering Might’ve Been Taken By The Bermuda Triangle

CarrolPhoto: Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

On January 29, 1921, the schooner Carroll A. Deering was returning home from Hampton Roads to Barbados when she passed the Cape Lookout lightship. Something seemed a little off to the Captain of the lightship. He reported that the Carroll’s crew seemed intact, but they wandered idly around on the deck of the ship. A crewman who didn’t look or act as if he was in charge told the lightship’s captain that the Carroll had lost her anchors.

The ship was later spotted by the SS Lake Elon, behaving strangely and steering a “peculiar course.” After that, the ship just disappeared.

Two days later, on January 31st, the Coast Guard discovered the Carroll run aground on the Outer Shoals. The weather was too treacherous for a better look, but C.P. Brady of the Cape Hatteras Coast Guard Station reported that the ship was missing her lifeboats, and the decks were covered with water. Later, when the weather was better, another Coast Guard ship, Rescue, showed up to investigate further.

They found that the ship was missing all its important papers, equipment, and personal belongings. The lifeboats were, indeed, missing, as were the anchors. This wasn’t a strange find for a ship run aground in dangerous waters, but then the crew found something that has baffled conspiracy theorists to this day: a meal, perfectly laid out for the entire crew, untouched.

There have been all sorts of theories about the ghost ship. Some believe that the crew mutinied. Others think that the ship was stolen by rogue Russians. Due to the proximity of the location, some reports even believe that the Bermuda Triangle might be to blame for the crew’s disappearance. The ship was scrapped in 1921, but the mystery still remains.