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The Ghost Ships

Ghost Ships

Ghost Ships, also known as Phantom Ships, are ships with no living crew aboard; they are ghostly vessels such as the Flying Dutchman, or other ships found adrift with crews either missing or dead, such as the Mary Celeste. The term is sometimes used for ships that have been decommissioned but not yet scrapped, such as the Clemenceau (R 98).

Chronology.

  • Undated: The Caleuche is a real ghost ship which, according to local folklore and Chilota mythology, sails the seas around Chiloé Island, Chile, at night.
  • 1738 onwards: The Palatine Light, a ship who lost half her crew running aground off Rhode Island, possibly being lured there and pillaged by the locals. Said to appear every December.
  • 1748 onwards: The Lady Lovibond is said to have been deliberately wrecked on Goodwin Sands on 13 February and to reappear off the Kent coast every fifty years.
  • 1786 onwards: The Ghost Ship of Northumberland Strait, a burning ship seen regularly between Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick.
  • 1795 onwards: The Flying Dutchman, a ship manned by a captain condemned to eternally sail the seas, has long been the principal ghost ship legend among mariners and has inspired several works.
  • 1813 onwards: After the American schooner Young Teazer was sunk in an explosion during the War of 1812, a burning apparition known as the "Teazer Light" has been reported off Maine.
  • 1858 onwards: The Eliza Battle, a paddle steamer that burned in 1858 on the Tombigbee River in Alabama, is purported to reappear, fully aflame, on cold and windy winter nights to foretell of impending disaster.
  • 1878 onwards: An apparition has been reported where the HMS Eurydice sank off the Isle of Wight. Witnesses include a Royal Navy submarine in the 1930s and Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, in 1998.
  • 1882: The Iron Mountain riverboat ship sank in 1882 near Vicksburg after running aground.
  • 1928: The København was last heard from on December 28, 1928. For two years following its disappearance sightings of a mysterious five-masted ship fitting its description were reported in the Pacific Ocean.

Unsubstantiated.

  • 1775: The Octavius, an English trading ship returning from China, was found drifting off the coast of Greenland. The captain's log showed that the ship had attempted the Northwest Passage, which had never been successfully traversed. The ship and the bodies of her frozen crew had completed the passage after drifting amongst the pack ice for 13 years.
  • 1840: The schooner Jenny was discovered after spending 17 years frozen in an ice-barrier of the Drake Passage. Found by Captain Brighton of the whaler Hope, it had been locked in the ice since 1823, the last port of call having been Lima, Peru. The bodies of the seven people aboard, including one woman and a dog, preserved by the Antarctic cold, were buried at sea by the crew of the Hope, and Brighton passed the account on to the Admiralty in London. The Jenny is commemorated by the Jenny Buttress, a feature on King George Island near Melville Peak, named by the UK Antarctic Place-Names Committee in 1960.
  • 1880: The ship Seabird, under the command of John Husham, grounded itself at Easton's Beach, Rhode Island. She had been returning from a voyage to Honduras and was expected in Newport that day. The ship was abandoned in sight of land and drifted off course. The only living thing found on the ship was a dog.
  • 1947: The Ourang Medan is said to have been found adrift off Indonesia with all of its crew dead. The boarding party found the entire crew "frozen, teeth baring, gaping at the sun." Before the ship could be towed to a home port, it exploded and sank.

Historically attested

  • 1855: HMS Resolute was discovered drifting off the coast of Baffin Island. It had been one of four vessels from Edward Belcher's search expedition for John Franklin that had been abandoned the previous year when it was trapped in pack ice in Viscount Melville Sound. The ship drifted some 1,200 miles (1,900 km) before it was found, freed from the ice.
  • 1872: The Mary Celeste, perhaps the most historically famous derelict, was found abandoned between mainland Portugal and the Azores archipelago. It was devoid of all crew, but largely intact and under sail, heading toward the Rock of Gibraltar. While Arthur Conan Doyle's story "J. Habakuk Jephson's Statement" based on this ship added some strange phenomena to the tale (such as that the tea found in the mess hall was still hot), the fact remained that the last log entry was 11 days prior to the discovery of the ship.
  • 1884: The Resolven was found abandoned between Baccalieu Island and Catalina, Newfoundland and Labrador, with its lifeboat missing. Other than a broken yard, it had suffered minimal damage. A large iceberg was sighted nearby. It has been claimed that none of the seven crew members or four passengers were accustomed to northern waters and it was suggested that they panicked when the ship was damaged by ice, launched the lifeboat, and swamped, though no bodies were found. Three years later, Resolven was wrecked while returning to Newfoundland from Nova Scotia with a load of lumber.
  • 1917: Zebrina, a sailing barge, departed Falmouth, England, with a cargo of Swansea coal bound for Saint-Brieuc, France. Two days later she was discovered aground on Rozel Point, south of Cherbourg, without damage except for some disarrangement of her rigging, but with her crew missing.
  • 1921: The Carroll A. Deering, a five-masted cargo schooner, was found stranded on a beach on Diamond Shoals, North Carolina. The ship's final voyage had been the subject of much debate and controversy, and was investigated by six departments of the US government, largely because it was one of dozens of ships that sank or went missing within a relatively short period of time. While paranormal explanations have been advanced, the theories of mutiny or piracy are considered more likely.
  • 1931: The Baychimo was abandoned in the Arctic Ocean when it became trapped in pack ice and was thought doomed to sink, but remained afloat and was sighted numerous times over the next 38 years without ever being salvaged.
  • 1933: A lifeboat from the 1906 wreck of the passenger steamship SS Valencia off the southwest coast of Vancouver Island was found floating in the area in remarkably good condition 27 years after the sinking. Sailors have also reported seeing the ship itself in the area in the years following the sinking, often as an apparition that followed down the coast.
  • 1955: The MV Joyita was discovered abandoned in the Pacific. A subsequent inquiry found the vessel was in a poor state of repair, but determined the fate of passengers and crew to be "inexplicable on the evidence submitted at the inquiry".
  • 1959: A ghost submarine was found floating without a crew in the Bay of Biscay off northern Spain. It was later discovered that the empty sub was being towed by another vessel and the chain had snapped.
  • 1969: The Teignmouth Electron was found adrift and unoccupied in the Atlantic Ocean. Investigation led to the conclusion that its sole crewmember, Donald Crowhurst, had suffered a psychiatric breakdown while competing in a solo around-the-world race and committed suicide by jumping overboard.
  • 2003: The High Aim 6 was found drifting in Australian waters, 80 nautical miles (150 km; 92 mi) east of Rowley Shoals, with its crew missing. The derelict was subsequently scuttled.
  • 2006: The tanker Jian Seng was found off the coast of Weipa, Queensland Australia in March. Its origin or owner could not be determined, and its engines had been inoperable for some time.
  • 2006: In August the "Bel Amica" was discovered off the coast of Sardinia. The Coast Guard crew that discovered the ship found half eaten Egyptian meals, French maps of North African seas, and a flag of Luxembourg on board.
  • 2007: A 12-metre catamaran, the Kaz II, was discovered unmanned off the coast of Queensland, northeast Australia in April. The yacht, which had left Airlie Beach on Sunday 15 April, was spotted about 80 nautical miles (150 km) off Townsville, near the outer Great Barrier Reef on the following Wednesday. When boarded on Friday, the engine was running, a laptop was running, the radio and GPS were working and a meal was set to eat, but the three-man crew were not on board. All the sails were up but one was badly shredded, while three life jackets and survival equipment, including an emergency beacon, were found on board. A search for the crew was abandoned on Sunday 22nd as it was considered unlikely that anyone could have survived for that period of time.
  • 2008: The abandoned 50 ton Taiwanese fishing vessel Tai Ching 21 (Chinese: 大慶21號) was found drifting near Kiribati on 9 November. The ship had suffered a fire several days previously, and its lifeboat and three life rafts were missing. No mayday call was received, and the ship had last been heard from on 28 October. A search of 21,000 square miles (54,000 square km) of the Pacific Ocean north of Fiji by a US Air Force C-130 Hercules and a New Zealand Air Force P-3 Orion found no trace of the Taiwanese captain (顏金港) or crew (18 Chinese, 6 Indonesians, and 4 Filipinos).
  • 2012: The Ryou-Un Maru, a Japanese fishing vessel swept away by the March 2011 tsunami, was found floating adrift towards Canada after nearly a year at sea, no crew believed to be on board. The vessel was sunk on April 5, 2012 by the United States Coast Guard.

Film

  • 1935: The Mystery of the Marie Celeste (also known as The Phantom Ship) offers a fictional explanation for the events leading up to the discovery of the most famous of abandoned ships.
  • 1943: The Ghost Ship tells of mysterious deaths among the crew of the Altair, for which it is suspected the insane captain is responsible.
  • 1952: Ghost Ship is set aboard a yacht haunted by two murder victims (the previous owner's wife and her lover) whose bodies have been hidden under the floor.
  • 1980: Death Ship is about a lost Kriegsmarine prison ship haunted by the evil spirits of the dead crew. It now roams the seas for new victims, picking up survivors to abuse and kill after it sinks their ships.
  • 2001: The Triangle has the tagline: "60 years ago, the Queen of Scots vanished in the Bermuda Triangle. Now four friends have found the unthinkable... or has it found them?".
  • 2001: Lost Voyage is a supernatural thriller about a group of people exploring the SS Corona Queen, which has emerged from the Bermuda Triangle after 30 years.
  • 2002: Ghost Ship is about the Antonio Graza, an Italian ocean liner lost at sea 40 years earlier, and now boarded by a salvage crew who soon encounter the ghostly apparitions of murdered passengers.
  • 2003: Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl had the Black Pearl as a ghost ship. Its sequels Dead Man's Chest (2006) and At World's End (2007) feature another ghost ship Flying Dutchman.
  • 2009: Triangle is psychological horror film about a group of friends on a yachting trip who discover the derelict ocean liner Aeolus.

Literature

  • 1798: A "skeleton ship" crewed by two spectres features in Samuel Taylor Coleridge's The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.
  • 1838: A Dutch brig is mentioned in "The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket" by Edgar Allan Poe, her crew dead, the flesh ripped by birds.
  • 1897: The Demeter, found derelict with its captain's corpse tied to the helm, is featured in Bram Stoker's Dracula.
  • 1913: The Abel Fosdyk papers, an apocryphal explanation of the fate of the Mary Celeste, were presented as a true account by A. Howard Linford of Magdalen College, Oxford, the headmaster of Peterborough Lodge, Hampstead's largest prep school. The story appeared under the title Abel Fosdyk's Story in the monthly fiction magazine Strand Magazine, which had invited its contributors and readers to suggest possible solutions to the mystery of the Mary Celeste.
  • 1937: "Three Skeleton Key", a short story by George Toudouze about a ghost ship infested with sea rats, was originally written for Esquire magazine. It was adapted for the dramatic radio program Escape in 1949 by James Poe and was also broadcast on the Suspense radio drama series in the 1950s.
  • 1965: The Ampoliros, the Flying Dutchman of space, is mentioned in Frank Herbert's Dune.
  • 2001: The Flying Dutchman plays a key part of Brian Jacques' series Castaways of the Flying Dutchman.

Gallery

NOTE: The limit is for 20 pictures only

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