Over the course of history, more ships have been found mysteriously sailing the high seas without a crew than you might realize. Dubbed ghost ships, these eerie vessels usually look perfectly intact, minus one vital element – passengers.
Tales are often told of fires burning, coffee still hot and sails intact, leaving no explanation for the disappearance of everyone on board. In some cases, it can be rationalized, in others, it will remain a mystery forever. Join us as we take a look at The Creepiest Ghost Ships Ever Found at Sea. Are you brave enough?
It’s highly unusual for a crew to go completely missing these days, but all three men on board the Kaz 11 disappeared without a trace in 2007. The 12-meter catamaran was sailing in Australia when it was discovered in perfect condition five days later.
The most significant thing about the find was that everything appeared entirely normal. Coffee cups sat half-finished, laundry was still hanging out to dry, and a laptop was still running on a table. There simply was no crew. The men were never found, and officials concluded it was most likely one had fallen overboard and the others had perished trying to save him.
The Mary Celeste
The mystery of the Mary Celeste is one of the most famous maritime stories ever told. The merchant ship was sailing in the Azores when it was found empty of all crew on December 4, 1872.
Although the ship was slightly disheveled, there was nothing to suggest what had happened to the sailors. Provisions were in stock and everything was as expected – but no one was on it. Neither the crew or Captain Briggs were ever heard from again. Over the years, many historians have come up with theories to explain the abandoned ship, from giant squid attacks to a pirate kidnapping.
The Ryou-Un Maru was a Japanese fishing boat that was inexplicably let loose from its mooring in Aomori Prefecture by the 2011 tsunami.The Japanese thought it was destroyed in the chaos, but the ship was found uninhabited by American officials one year later when it made its way to Alaska.
After 12 months of navigating the waters unmanned, the U.S coast guard decided to purposely sink the ship to stop it becoming a hazard to other maritime traffic. It begs the question, how did a boat sail all that way undetected? Was it guided by an unseen hand or manned by a ghostly crew?
HMS Resolute belonged to the British Royal Navy. The beautiful vessel was sent out on an ill-fated mission, to discover the whereabouts of explorer John Franklin who had gone missing in the Arctic. While undertaking the voyage, the ship became trapped in icy waters in Viscount Melville Sound, Canada.
With little options, the crew abandoned her in the treacherous ocean. No one thought she would be seen again, but 12 months later Resolute was discovered off the coast of Baffin Island, Canada, having made her way out of the ice. Interestingly, recycled wood from the ship was used to build a desk that now sits in the Oval Office.
A 1,322-ton steel-hulled cargo steamer should be a fair match for anything the sea throws at her, but the SS Baychimo fell victim to packed ice in October of 1931. The ship was used to shuttle pelts to Inuit settlements along the Victoria Island coast near Canada and was on such a voyage when disaster struck.
When the crew realized they couldn’t sail through the ice, they abandoned Baychimo. Clearly a vessel with determination, she managed to break free unmanned and continued to sail the Alaskan waters alone for decades. Baychimo was last spotted in 1969, still seaworthy — and all alone.
British businessman Donald Crowhurst had high hopes of winning the 1968 Sunday Times Golden Globe Race by single-handedly sailing his yacht, Teignmouth Electron, around the world. However, the boat was discovered almost a year later without any crew on board in Jamaica.
The log left on board showed that the 30-something-year-old captain had encountered numerous problems from the start, and had actually abandoned the race — despite communicating false co-ordinates to officials which put him in first place. Although Crowhurst was never found, it was thought he most likely committed suicide once he realized he would be discovered. The log bookcontained over 25,000 words showed his fragile mental state, with his last entry dated July 1, 1969.
Perhaps the most famous ship of all time, the HMS Titanic has captured the hearts and imaginations of millions following from its 1912 sinking. Although no mystery surrounds the demise of the ship, the wreck still captivates explorers.
She was known to have sunk southeast of the coast of Newfoundland, but the wreck wasn’t found until 1985. The bow is still largely intact, and the interior rooms look almost exactly the way they werethe night of the sinking. In contrast, the stern is almost completely destroyed. Personal items scatter the seabed where she lays, as did the bodies of its ill-fated passengers who were never recovered.
This five-masted Danish masterpiece known as København was used as a naval training vessel in the early 1900s before she mysteriously vanished while en route from Buenos Aires to Australia. At the time, she was known affectionately as “Big Dane,” and was considered the largest ship in the world.
Captain Hans Andersen and a crew of 75 young cadets were on board when they exchanged radio messages with the Norwegian steamer William Blumer on December 22, 1928. Despite Andersen reporting that all was well, neither the crew nor the ship were ever heard from again. An ocean-wide search ensued but to no avail. Over the course of the next few years, many sailors reported sightings of a “phantom” five-masted ship passing by the waters of Tristan da Cunha.
The SS Valencia was an iron-hulled steamer built to carry passengers along the west coast of the U.S. The ship often traveled with hundreds of people en route from Venezuela to New York City. In 1906, she met her end when fog caused her to crash into a reef off the coast of Canada.
The panicked crew accidentally sealed the fate of most of the innocent lives on board by lowering nearly all of the lifeboats too early. Thirty-seven men piled aboard the remaining three lifeboats, leaving the other 136 passengers to die. Some years later in 1933, one of the lifeboats was found floating in Barkley Sound still intact.
SS City of Adelaide
The SS City of Adelaide is without a doubt one of the most-visited shipwrecks in the world. Built in 1864, the four-masted barque was used to store and transport large quantities of coal. In 1912, a massive fire erupted, burning for a number of days before the flames could be safely put out.
The burnt-out vessel was then sold to George Butler, the son of the first European resident of Magnetic Island, located near Townsville, Australia. Butler wanted to sink her in the island’s Picnic Bay, but as efforts were being made to move her she ran aground off Cockle Bay, where she remains.
Carroll A. Deering
The Carroll A. Deering was traveling from Rio De Janeiro back to Norfolk, V.a, when it was seen with its crew for the last time. Everything seemed above board when the five-masted cargo ship delivered its shipment of coal, but no one knows what happened after it passed through Cape Lookout Lightship, N.C on January 28, 1921.
Three days after the final sighting, the ship was discovered completely abandoned off the North Carolina coast. There were some signs of trouble – both the lifeboats and the ship logbook were missing. None of the crew were ever heard from again, with some believing pirates were to blame.
Edro III was a cargo ship built in 1966 in Norway, before operating as a transporter in the Mediterranean. The 80-meter ship encountered some trouble while on a journey to Rhodes from Cyprus, carrying a shipment of plasterboard. The weather had turned and heavy seas meant the nine crew members could no longer control her.
Edro III ran aground off Pegeia on December 8, 2011. Thankfully for the crew, they were rescued and airlifted to safety by a British Military helicopter. The ship now rests at a 45-degree angle on the rocks, having been stripped of all dangerous oils in 2013.
According to legend, English schooner Jenny became frozen in an ice-barrier of the Drake Passage in 1823. Everyone assumed she had either been taken by pirates or had sunk, until a passing whaling ship discovered her in 1840.
Rumor has it that everything was perfectly intact, from the crew members’ frozen bodies to the dinner they had planned to eat that evening. However, no one has ever been able to prove this story which can be traced back to a German geographical magazine in 1862. The article claimed that a Captain Brighton had stolen theJenny‘s logbook when he discovered her remains.
Ocean liner SS Maheno belonged to the Union Company of New Zealand, operating in the Tasman Sea. The impressive ship was used for crossings between New Zealand and Australia for some time after first being used by the Navy in World War I.
In July of 1935, she was being towed by the 1,758 ton ship Oonah with a 900-foot wire ripe when a cyclone parted them. Despite efforts to reattach Maheno, they lost her and she drifted out to sea along with an eight-man skeleton crew who managed to escape to a nearby island. The Maheno remains beached off the coast of Fraser Island and is a popular tourist spot despite access to the wreck being prohibited.
The Eliza Battle was a small Tombigbee River steamboat that ferried passengers to and from Mobile, Alabama and Columbus, Mississippi the 1850s. The sweet little vessel met an undignified end in 1858 when a fire broke out and killed 33 of the 100 on board.
At the time, the incident was the greatest maritime disaster in Tombigbee River history, but the tragic events didn’t stop there. Although the fire-ravaged ship sank to the bottom of the river, there were multiple ghostly sightings of the burning ship and screaming passengers in the years after. It’s said that the fisherman came to take the apparitions as signs of an approaching disaster.
SV Sea Bird
John Huxham was the captain in charge of the SV Sea Bird when she ran aground at Easton’s Beach, Rhode Island in the mid to late 1700s. So many versions of events have been told that fact has been blurred with fiction, but most agree that the crew abandoned her for unknown reasons while they were within sight of land.
When the ship was later boarded by concerned parties, they found coffee boiling on the stove, but the only living beings were a cat and a dog. The Sea Bird was expected to arrive at its destination the same day, so what could have prompted the crew to leave her afloat? We may never know.
High Aim 6
Back in 2003, High Aim 6 was found drifting in Australian waters minus its crew. The Taiwanese ship had plenty of fuel and provisions, as well as a hold full of seafood. All of the personal belongings of the crew members were still in place.
A search ensued to try and locate the missing people, but only one was ever tracked down. The only explanation he offered was that the captain and engineer were murdered and the crew fled to their homes. No investigation happened, and the ship was soon forgotten about. Could it have been mutiny on the open seas?
It’s not uncommon for amateur sailors to get into trouble while out on the water, but seasoned seaman usually know what they’re doing. Slovenian long-distance sailor Jure Šterk was embarking on a trip around the world when his boat was spotted near Australia looking damaged.
There was no sign ofŠterk on deck, but it wasn’t investigated. Three months later, on April 30, 2009, Lunatic was found adrift by the crew of RV Roger Revelle. The sails were torn and tattered, andŠterk was nowhere to be seen. The last entry in the log was on January 2 of 2009. He is presumed dead.
The MV Joyita was only supposed to take two days to get to its destination of Tokelau from Samoa in 1955. When it didn’t arrive on October 6, the New Zealand Air Force began looking for the boat and its 25 passengers.
After a week of frantic searching, nothing was found and efforts were called off. Five weeks later, another ship stumbled across the missing boat off the coast of Fiji, more than 600 miles west of its destination. No passengers were in sight, and bloody bandages were discovered on deck. The boat was still floating thanks to its cork-lined hull, so no one understood why passengers would’ve abandoned her. It’s still a mystery.
WWII Ships In The Danube River
With water levels quickly lowering, the Danube River has revealed something lost to history — German World War II battleships. There were more than 20 ships found on the river floor, each with ammunition and explosives still inside.
Located near Serbia’s river port town of Prahovo, these ships pose a threat to fishermen as they sail through the waters daily. The ships’ locations are not a secret, but 2022 was the first time since 1944 they have made it above the water’s surface.
The Lyuobov Orlova was fated to be impounded in Canada in 2010 as its owner had succumbed to financial issues. The crew hadn’t been paid in months, so the ship was scheduled to be scrapped. But while it was being towed to the Dominican Republic, the line snapped and she was cast adrift.
Canada sent out another boat to retrieve her but rather than taking her back, they towed the ship out into international waters and let her go. A few years later, it was thought that theLyuobov Orlova was going to collide into the coast of Ireland, but she never did and it’s presumed she has since been sunk.