8 Vessels In History That Were Mysteriously Abandoned By Their Crew

One of the most tragic mysteries of the sea is when a ship disappears without a trace, but I’d say it’s arguably even creepier when the ship IS found, yet the crew has all but vanished. Was it a storm that washed the crew away, or something far more sinister? Here’s a list of ghost ships that were salvaged at sea despite their crews finding a new home in Davy Jones’s Locker.


This British merchant ship was thought to have disappeared in 1890, but in 1913, a Singapore newspaper reported that the Marlborough had been spotted near Chile by a ship called the Johnson. The paper reported that the Johnson saw a mysterious green light, leading them to the Marlborough ahead. When they boarded the ship, they found that the crew were nothing more than skeletons.

SS El Faro

The SS El Faro departed from Jacksonville, Florida, on September 30, 2015, bound for Puerto Rico. The next morning, Hurricane Joaquin had grown to a Category 3 and the ship was headed straight for its eye. Some wreckage was found a few days later, yet only one body from the 33-person crew was recovered.

Mary Celeste

In December, 1872, the Canadian vessel Dei Gratia spotted an American merchant brigantine off Portugal’s Azores Islands. As the ship approached, they discovered the Mary Celeste was completely vacant, despite being fully seaworthy. The crew’s personal belongings were even still intact. Theories about the disappearance of the crew range from foul play by the Dei Gratia crew to aliens. Even mystery master Arthur Conan Doyle wrote a short story about the ship.

MV Tai Ching XXI

In 2008, a 50-ton Taiwanese fishing vessel was found near Kiribati in the Pacific Ocean. It had clearly been ravaged by fire, all its lifeboats were deployed, and yet none of the 29-member crew were ever found.

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Carroll A. Deering


Built in 1919 in Maine, The Carroll was a five-masted schooner. On its last voyage to Brazil, there were problems amongst the crew. While stopping for supplies in Barbados, sailors overheard the first mate of the Carroll threaten to kill the captain. The sailor was arrested but the captain forgave him, bailed him out, and they set sail. A month later, the ship was briefly spotted by a lighthouse keeper, who said a mysterious crewman with a foreign accent told him the ship had lost its anchors. A few days later, the ship was seen floating off the coast of Cape Hatteras, but when it was boarded, there were no signs of the crew.

Kaz II

When the Kaz II catamaran was found floating 88 miles off the coast of Australia in 2007, its motor was still running, dinner was laid out on the table, laundry was hanging, and the life jackets remained. And yet, there was no sign of the three crew members. Even stranger is the footage taken just before the men disappeared; it shows them relaxing on the ship while it was close to shore.

Bel Amica

The Italian coast guard was especially baffled by the Bel Amica when it was found empty off the coast of Sardinia. The ship had never been registered in Italy…or any country, for that matter. It’s only identifier was a plaque that read “Bel Amica,” which is a misspelling of beautiful friend — bell’amica — in Italian. The ship was revealed to be owned by a man named Franc Rouayrux from Luxembourg. He hadn’t registered the boat for tax evasion reasons.

HMS Resolute

It was supposed to be outfitted for the Arctic tundra, yet in 1854, it became trapped in ice. The crew abandoned the vessel and for a year, it remained there until an American whaling ship set it free. The British Royal Navy ship was returned home. Most interesting of all, timbers from the boat were used to construct a desk most U.S. presidents use in the Oval Office.

As if the threat of sea sickness, drowning, getting eaten by sharks, or starving to death weren’t enough to keep me from taking a cruise…

I’m definitely fine with being a “land lover” for the rest of my life.

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