April 19, 2024 | Sarah Ng

10 Chilling Ghost Ship Mysteries

The Ships That Never Came Home

The ocean can be vast and terrifying. Journeying across it has never been for the faint of heart. Tragically, not everyone has made it home safely—and these 10 ghost ships are proof.


The Carroll A. Deering

The Carroll A. Deering was a cargo ship manned by a crew of ten. In 1920, it safely arrived in Rio de Janeiro—but on its journey back to Virginia, a bizarre incident transpired.

Carroll A. DeeringUnknown Author, Wikimedia Commons

The Carroll A. Deering: Suspicious Behavior

A crewman on board the Carroll A. Deering contacted a lightship keeper in North Carolina. He claimed that the ship had lost its anchors in a storm. However, the lightship keeper noticed something suspicious. The crew was "milling about" on the quarterback, which was not normal.

Pirate ship navigating during a stormFortis Design, Shutterstock

The Carroll A. Deering: They Weren't Taking The Correct Route

The next day, the Carroll A. Deering was sighted close to Outer Banks—not the usual trajectory for a ship traveling to Virginia. A day later, it became a shipwreck. 

Outer Banks placeKen Lund, Flickr

The Carroll A. Deering: Investigating The Shipwreck

Unfortunately, perilous conditions prevented people from approaching the shipwreck. It wasn't until four days later that investigators boarded the Carrol A. Deering, where they stumbled upon a curious scene.

skeleton coast shipwreckPete Niesen, Shutterstock

The Carroll A. Deering: They Laid Out A Meal

It seemed as though the crew had been preparing to eat a meal. All of their food was sitting out. Still, the lifeboats had vanished along with the crew's belongings. 

The federal government suspected anything from pirates to a mutiny, but their investigations came up dry.

Carroll A. DeeringBettmann, Getty Images

The Mary Celeste

Whatever happened to the Mary Celeste? On the fateful day of November 7, 1872, a small crew began their journey to Italy, leaving from New York. On board were the captain, his wife, and small daughter, as well as a crew of seven men. 

But a month later, a tragedy came to pass.

Greatest Mysteries FactsWikimedia Commons

The Mary Celeste: It Never Arrived

The Mary Celeste did not arrive on time. Instead, the British ship Dei Gratia noticed the vessel languishing in the Atlantic. When they went to investigate, they made a chilling discovery.

Mary Celeste in New York HarborGeorge McCord, Wikimedia Commons

The Mary Celeste: The Crew Had Vanished

There was nobody on board the Mary Celeste. Though they'd left behind their belongings and half a year's worth of sustenance, the entire crew had disappeared along with the lifeboat. But that wasn't even the weirdest part.

Mary Celeste As Amazon In 1861Honore Pellegrin (1800–c.1870), Wikimedia Commons

The Mary Celeste: It Wasn't A Doomed Ship

You see, the Mary Celeste wasn't exactly in dire straits. Though the ship had been flooded with three feet of water, it wasn't doomed to sink. Any repairs would have been manageable.

Mary Celeste shipDE AGOSTINI PICTURE LIBRARY, Getty Images

The Mary Celeste: It Inspired A Mystery Writer

Found under mysterious circumstances, the Mary Celeste eventually inspired Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to write the short story J. Habakuk Jephson's Statement. 

But what actually happened to the Mary Celeste's crew?

Arthur Conan Doyle By Walter Benington, 1914Walter Benington, Wikimedia Commons

The Mary Celeste: We'll Never Know The Truth

The best explanation for the crew's disappearance would be that the captain didn't properly gauge the ship's damages. Perhaps he saw land, and got everyone off the boat. Unfortunately, the truth is buried in history.

old ship at sea on  full moonalexnako, Shutterstock

High Aim No. 6

On Halloween 2002, the fishing boat High Aim No. 6 set out from Taiwan. However, in January 2003, the Australian Navy spotted it. When they went to investigate the boat, they realized something was seriously wrong.

The shipwreck on the Shoaiba BeachVD Image Lab, Shutterstock

High Aim No. 6: Nothing Added Up

Oddly enough, the boat's engine was still running, but there were no crew members in sight. Adding to the mystery was the fact that the main gas tank had run dry while the auxiliary fuel tanks remained full. As well, there were ten tons of bonito tuna stored.

Steamship Charles Edward in a heavy sea. - 1908State Library of Queensland ,Picryl

High Aim No. 6: They Found One Crew Member

It seemed like there would be no good answers for what happened to High Aim No. 6, that is, until a single crew member reared his head.

Sinking ship metaphor and failing business despair conceptLightspring, Shutterstock

High Aim No. 6: One Mystery Remains

The only crew member found was an Indonesian fisherman with a shocking story to tell. According to his report, the crew had collaborated with pirates to take out the captain and head engineer. However, one mystery remains: Why did the crew choose to do this in the first place?

Seattle Knights as PiratesJoe Kukowski, Wikimedia Commons

The Jian Seng

The Jian Seng is defined by its mysterious history...or the fact that it doesn't seem to have a history at all. 

Ship wreckcoloursinmylife, Shutterstock

The Jian Seng: They Didn't Know Where It Came From

The Australian Coastwatch discovered the Jian Seng in 2006. Nobody was on board and it had a severed tow rope. Though the ship's name could be seen on its side, investigators had no clue where the ship had come from.

Australian CoastwatchKen Hodge, CC BY 2.0 ,Wikimedia Commons

The Jian Seng: A Lost Origin Story

In trying to trace the origins of the Jian Seng, investigators were stumped. They couldn't find any records of distress signals, nor had there been any reports of the boat missing. They even came up empty when trying to locate identifying documents.

Sinking shipsezer66, Shutterstock

The MV Joyita

The MV Joyita was a merchant ship. In 1955, it ventured into the South Pacific for two days. But sadly, it was not a successful journey. The ship never arrived at its destination.

Mv Joyita 1955 PortUnknown Author, Wikimedia Commons

The MV Joyita: The Rescue Effort Failed

When the MV Joyita disappeared, the initial rescue effort failed. However, the ship wasn't lost forever. Over a month later, a different captain caught sight of the shipwreck. 

Mv Joyita 1955Unknown Author, Wikimedia Commons

The MV Joyita: There Was No Explanation

Shockingly, the MV Joyita's 25 passengers had mysteriously disappeared. The investigation into what caused the ship's tragic fate described it as "inexplicable." That's when disturbing theories began bubbling to the surface.

Fishing boat sinkingj.wootthisak, Shutterstock

The MV Joyita: Haunting Theories

One theory blamed Soviet submariners for kidnapping everyone on board, while others think that Japanese fishermen had slain the entire crew. However, one professor believes that a pipe had eroded, causing the ship to flood.

Ship's wheelhouse in 1942Unknown Author, Wikimedia Commons

The Nina Yacht

In 2013, the Nina yacht stopped responding. The crew had contacted meteorologists with some chilling concerns about the weather. Tragically, it seemed clear that that the boat had been bested by the 26-foot-high waves and the strong winds. But that wasn't the end of the Nina's story.

Super Yacht Lady Lara in Boston Main Channel - 2020Rdargusch, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

The Nina Yacht: One Last Message

Three weeks following the Nina's disappearance, a shocking text message came through: "Thanks storm sails shredded last night, now bare poles." 

lost boatDanny Cube, Pexels

The Nina Yacht: Dashed Hopes

This message gave hope to the family of one of the passengers—a 19-year-old girl. A private search yielded some promising satellite photos of what might have been the Nina. However, most experts debunked the images.

Romantic BetrayalsShutterstock

The Kaz II

Two brothers and a skipper went missing in April 2007. The three inexperienced sailors had set off on an adventure aboard the Kaz II. It was supposed to be a two-month trip, but it only lasted three days.

yachtOleksandr P, Pexels

The Kaz II: They Left Behind A Cup Of Coffee

Tragically, the Kaz II was discovered without a crew on board. Instead, investigators simply found a newspaper, blades on the floor, and a half-full cup of coffee. There are only theories about what their final moments may have looked like.

yachtVincent Gerbouin, Pexels

The Kaz II: A Tragic Theory

One coroner speculated that all three sailors had drowned. If one had accidentally fallen overboard, the remaining two might have perished in their rescue attempts. Of course, there was no evidence to support this theory at all.

yachtSevenStorm JUHASZIMRUS, Pexels

The Mummy Ghost Ship

In 2016, Filipino fishermen made a horrifying discovery. They boarded what they thought was an abandoned yacht, only to stumble upon the mummy of a German sailor.

Rocky coast with stranded damaged sailboatRalf Liebhold, Shutterstock

The Mummy Ghost Ship: He Traveled The World

This sailor was actually Manfred Fritz Bajorat. For the last two decades, he'd been traveling around the world. He was a hard man to track down, having been last seen in 2009 and last heard from in 2015.

yachtRiccardo, Pexels

The Mummy Ghost Ship: He Had A Shocking Autopsy

Bajorat had passed from natural causes. If his body had been exposed to the salty, warm elements for an extended period of time, the mummified condition of his body made sense. However, his autopsy results were unexpected. 

Reportedly, he'd passed only a week prior to being found.

autopsyElnur, Shutterstock

The Sam Ratulangi

In August 2018, Fishermen discovered the Sam Ratulangi PB 1600 near the Myanmar coast. Strangely, there were no people on board and no cargo. However, this mystery has a likely explanation.

The abadoned Indonesian ship YE AUNG THU, Getty Images

The Sam Ratulangi: They Abandoned Ship

Not long after its discovery, Myanmar's navy identified the Sam Ratulangi. Pulled by a tugboat, the freighter had been en route to ship-breaking plant. However, when faced with rough weather, the cable connecting the tugboat and freighter broke. As a result, the crew likely abandoned ship.

The abadoned Indonesian ship YE AUNG THU, Getty Images

Ghost Ship Jenny

Though this urban legend may be unsubstantiated, it is still a story worth telling. In 1840, the Hope, a whaling ship, stumbled across the Jenny, a schooner. Stuck in the ice, the Jenny had become the victim of the ice along the Antarctic Drake Passage.

ghost boatYannick Martinez, Shutterstock

Ghost Ship Jenny: One Final Entry

Horrifyingly, the Jenny hid a nightmare on board. The entire crew had frozen to death. The most sensational detail? Allegedly, the captain's body was found by his desk. On it, his log revealed one final entry: “May 4, 1823. No food for 71 days. I am the only one left alive.”

Old ghost shipGergitek Gergi tavan, Shutterstock


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