When a ship and its crew set sail, it’s expected that they’ll all return to land together.
Yet there have been a string of bizarre cases where ghost ships were found drifting at sea often without any sign of human life on board.
In many instances, everything on the ship appears to be in order. The only thing amiss is the fact that the crew has vanished.
What happened? Where did everyone go? Was there an emergency causing the passengers to evacuate?
If that were the case, wouldn’t the ship have sunk?
Let’s look at 10 of the most mysterious instances of ghost ships throughout history.
10 Carroll A. Deering
The Carroll A. Deering was found run aground off Cape Haterras, NC, in 1921 — with all its crew missing.
The vessel had been headed for Virginia after delivering coal to Brazil.
Not long before it was found abandoned, the crew had stopped in Barbados where first mate Charles B McLellan was arrested after making drunken threats against the newly appointed captain, WB Wormell.
However, Wormell forgave him and McLellan was released allowing the ship to set sail again.
The Deering was later spotted near North Carolina’s Cape Cod Lightship when someone, assumed to be one of the ten crew members, let the lightship’s keeper know that the vessel had lost one of its anchors.
The Deering continued towards Virginia but the next time it was seen was when it was found abandoned on shoals near Cape Haterras — a ghost ship if ever there was one.
All the crew’s belongings had gone, along with the lifeboats. Some claim the vessel had fallen victim to the notorious Bermuda Triangle — where many ships and airplanes have disappeared under mysterious circumstances.
Others claim the evidence points to a mutiny on board. The crew were never seen again…
9 Teignmouth Electron
This sailboat hit the high seas in 1968 with British businessman Donald Crowhurst at the helm, as he attempted to win the Sunday Times Golden Globe Race — the first ever solo round-the-world yacht race.
Before setting sail it’s thought Crowhurst had wanted to pull out due to doubts over the ship’s readiness.
But he had ill-advisedly mortgaged both his failing nautical equipment business and his family home against financial support for the race — so felt compelled to take part.
He experienced difficulties with his makeshift vessel in the days leading up to and shortly after the start of the race, and soon realised the vessel would never make it.
He then pulled over off the coast of South America, and began falsifying his records — making up chart positions for where he would be if he had carried on.
His intention was to reenter the race after all the other boats had gone all the way around the world, and take first place.
It didn’t go quite as planned and it’s thought he later found out that someone else had won. In mid 1969, his ship was found drifting in the Atlantic Ocean without Crowhurst aboard.
He is thought to have gone insane under the mental pressure of what he had done, and thrown himself overboard.
His diaries, recounting his bid to cheat in the race and subsequent demise, were found in the cabin.
A documentary about his case, called Deep Water, was released in 2006 and makes fascinating viewing.
8 Kaz II
In early 2007, three friends left the coast of Australia with the intention of spending a few days at sea.
Several days later, their catamaran was found near the Great Barrier Reef. No one was aboard, but everything else seemed as normal.
The boat was fully functional, a laptop was still on, and a meal was set out on the table. Every lifejacket was lined up in a row.
While their fate has never been determined, it is largely believed that one fell overboard and the other two jumped over without their life jackets on in an attempt to save him.
Nobody knows for sure.
7 Bel Amica
Spotted off the coast of Sardinia in 2006, the Bel Amica had clothes, maps, and a half-eaten plate of Egyptian food on board.
There were not, however, any people.
An investigation revealed the ship had never been registered, resulting in immense confusion as it was impossible to tell where it came from.
Originally believed to be an antique boat because of the style, it was later determined to be a yacht owned by a Luxembourg man allegedly involved in tax evasion.
Who exactly was on board the yacht when it set sail, and what happened to them, has never been determined.
6 High Aim 6
Found along the Australian coast in 2003 with a hold full of rotting fish, this Taiwanese ship had plenty of food aboard as well as the belongings of the entire crew.
There was no sign any disturbance had taken place, and no Mayday signals had been received.
A massive 7,300 miles of sea were searched in a bid to find the crew and a forensic examination was completed with no results.
However, a phone belonging to a missing engineer was discovered being used in Indonesia.
One crew member was later found and reported that the captain and engineer had been murdered and everyone decided to head home.
He wasn’t able to explain how they got home or why everything was left behind…
5 The MV Joyita
Considered a merchant vessel that was unsinkable, the MV Joyita was found in 1955 in the South Pacific ocean.
There was no sign of the 25 crew members and passengers aboard.
The hull was slightly damaged, but it was still operational.
There are plenty of conspiracy theories including that the Japanese killed the captain and crew and dumped them into the sea after they ran upon illegal smuggling.
Another theory involves the captain dying and everyone fleeing from the boat in a panic. Whatever happened, there is one thing certain…
One day they were there and the next day they were gone.
Spotted off the coast of Queensland, Australia, this 80ft tanker was is poor condition with the engine seized up, all electronics removed and, all identifying information covered.
In fact, the only thing aboard the ship was a large amount of rice.
Although there was a substantial effort put into finding the owner of the boat, no one ever claimed it.
It was given the name Jian Seng by the Australian government and purposely sunk due to its condition.
To this day, no one knows where the boat came from or what happened aboard it.
3 T.T. Zion
In late 2012, 35-year-old millionaire Guma Aguiar took his fishing boat out on the Atlantic Ocean.
The next morning the boat washed ashore on a Ft. Lauderdale beach with the engine running and navigation lights on — but without him on board.
While Aguiar’s phone and wallet were still in the cabin, he was nowhere to be found.
Theoretically, he could have made a sharp turn and been propelled off the boat.
To this day, no one is certain what became of the dad-of-four.
2 SS Ourang Medan
When the Ourang Medan was found wrecked near Indonesia in 1947, there were plenty of crew members onboard.
There was just one problem. They were all dead — but not one of them appeared to be injured.
Instead, most of them died with their hands outstretched and with looks of horror on their faces.
Two bizarre messages were said to have been sent from the Medan indicating that all but one person had died.
The final message was simply “I die”.
According to legend, there was a survivor who made it to the Marshall Islands and reported that the ship had been carrying sulfuric acid and the fumes killed everyone. This has never been confirmed.
During the probe, there was a fire on board the vessel making it impossible for investigators to find out what happened.
1 Mary Celeste
The Mary Celeste is one of the most famous ghost ships in history. Discovered in the Bay of Gibraltar in 1872, it had set out from New York with a family and several crew members aboard.
When discovered, it was soaking wet, had items strewn about it, and had no emergency boats on board.
After a thorough inquiry, it is believed that the captain thought the boat was sinking and ordered everyone into the emergency boats, where they perished, though nothing has ever been found to prove or disprove this theory.