Ghost ships: sea legends with a dark history


For centuries sailors have been retelling stories of ships whose crew never saw land again. Some of these dark legends are not fiction at all, but have a very real basis: “Mary Celeste”, “Kobenhavn” and “Sea Bird” – these ships really existed.

«Mary Celeste»

Perhaps one of the most famous ships with a dark history. The brigantine, about 30 meters long, was originally called “Amazonka”, but it had a bad reputation. All because the captain fell overboard during the very first voyage. Then the ship changed its owner and name, but it seems, not its fate. In November 1872, Mary Celeste sailed from New York port with a crew of 10, Captain Briggs and his family. Soon the ship disappeared, and when it was found, there was not a single person on board. The vessel was in good condition, the holds were full of food and water, and the cargo they were carrying was intact. The fate of all crew members is still shrouded in mystery, and none of the proposed versions can still explain what happened on board.

«Ourang Medan»

The history of the Dutch merchant ship «Ourang Medan» began with an SOS signal, which was received from a sailor scared to death. He could not really explain anything, except for the cries of “everyone is dead.” Interestingly, the ship was not shipwrecked and continued to follow its course. When the sailors of the Silver Star, who received the distress signal, boarded, they found that the entire crew was dead, with a look of horror on their faces. Their postures indicated that they were trying to defend themselves, but no one found the source of the threat. The Americans planned to tow it to the shore, but as soon as they left the «Ourang Medan», a fire suddenly broke out on board, then the ship exploded and sank.


This vessel disappeared without a trace and left behind many mysteries. Everything would be fine if it was not considered one of the most technologically advanced and reliable ships of the 20th century. “Kobenhavn” was built in 1921 and at the time of construction was the fifth largest in the world! Its hull was made of steel, and on board this five-mast colossus there was even its own radio and power station, so that all the winches were controlled by an electric drive, making it easier to raise the sails. In December 1928, he disappeared, and a reward was announced for information about his whereabouts. Several search operations were carried out, but they all returned with nothing. The results of the investigation indicated that the ship disappeared along with the crew due to the force of the elements.

Five years later, in the Namib Desert in Africa, one of the expeditions discovered seven skeletons that were dressed in marine uniforms. From the analysis of the pattern on the buttons, it became clear that such jackets were worn by sailors of the Dutch merchant fleet. And 25 years later, the captain of the cargo ship “Straat van Magalhaes”, being near the southern coast of Africa, saw a sailing ship with five masts. It arose out of nowhere, as if floating out of the depths of the seas, and … went to the ship in full sail! The crew of “Straat van Magalhaes” managed to prevent a collision, after which the sailboat disappeared, but they say that the crew managed to read the inscription on board the ship – “Kobenhavn” …

“Sea Bird”

In July, either 1750 or 1850 (they still argue about when this happened), the residents of Rhode Island noticed a sailboat in the sea, in full swing going to the small village of Eastons Beach. However, the “Sea Bird” did not crash on the coastal rocks, but got stuck in the shallows, which allowed the locals to climb aboard. Many of them later regretted it very much, since they could not forget this picture all their lives. They found coffee boiling on the stove, but the crew disappeared without a trace. There was no explanation in the logbook, and the lifeboats simply disappeared. Subsequently, it became known that the ship was carrying goods from South America and was supposed to arrive in the city of Newport, but for some unknown reason went off course. Rescuers found only a terribly frightened dog under the bunk in one of the cabins, but, of course, he could not tell about what happened on board.

“Cemetery” of cruise ships

These ships did not get lost in the depths of the sea and did not disappear without a trace, but their fate is no less sad. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, as a result of which most countries around the world have closed borders, the cruise industry has been hit hard. Many companies were forced to go to extreme measures and send their ships for recycling much ahead of time in order to at least slightly reduce losses.

One of the five ships is Carnival Fantasy, formerly owned by the Carnival Cruise Line. Despite being 30 years old, it was overhauled last year, however, it was never destined to go on a cruise.

In the small Turkish town of Aliaga, not far from Izmir, a whole line of ships was formed, which came for “processing”. And that’s not all: very soon these sad ranks will be replenished with at least three more ships.

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