Ghost ships – mystery and horror

Ghost ships - mystery and horror- Tania Nicolau-

Ghost ships –  mystery and horror frighten us always.

Their stories – our deepest anxieties

Ghost ships have a grip on people’s minds.

Their stories talk about our deepest anxieties – to be lost without cause, without recovery and without explanation.

In the stories of ghost ships we see our fascination and attraction towards the unexplained.

 This subject – Ghost ships –  mystery and horror – always fascinate  us

Therefore, our minds make up explanations for things that sometimes should be left undisturbed.

For in many of the ghost ship stories, there is more than an ounce of mystery and horror that might very well be real.

Nowadays ghost ships are mostly small pleasure yachts discovered floating or wrecked without their owner.

Also, our rational minds usually point to an accident, a suicide or the attempt to vanish in the unknown.

Famous and not-so-famous cases

Anyone who knows anything about ghost ships has heard of the story of the “Maria Celeste” – a case so well known Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote a story about it.

This merchant ship was recovered in 1872 in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean under sail but with no crew and passengers.

They seem to have vanished without a trace and there were no signs of violence or a calamity of any sort.

While many theories have been proposed, none has fully explained the case.

But “Mary Celeste” is far for being the most interesting case.

Ghost ships – mystery and horror  regarding “Ourang Medan”

In 1947 the Dutch ship “Ourang Medan” was recovered near the Marshall Islands in the Pacific Ocean, this time with all its crew dead.

However, the cadavers were spread all over the ship in contorted position, facing upwards and gaping at the sky.

Before a thorough inspection could be made, a fire broke out in one of the holds. The recovery crews put themselves at a safe distance, only to witness the “Ourang Medan” explode and sink.


The Dutch ship, much like “Mary Celeste”, was supposed to carry hazardous and poisonous materials, which could be an explanation for the death of the crews. Yet the speed at which they were killed is harder to explain by natural causes.

Skeletons on board

The “Ourang Medan” is a –  Ghost ships –  mystery and horror – subject.

Also, it is  just one of many stories of ghost ships discovered with dead crews and passengers on board.

Ghost ships –  mystery and horror in the 20th century

One of the better-known stories of this kind happened in the early years of the 20th century.

Soon after the sinking of the passenger ship SS Valencia off Vancouver in January 1904, Native Americans inhabiting the area made a gruesome discovery.

In one of the sea caves adjacent to the place of the sinking they found a lifeboat belonging to the SS Valencia with a number of skeletons tied to their rowing paddles.

However, before this could be properly investigated, waves reclaimed the boat and the skeletons, taking them back to the depths of the sea.

Ghost ships today – the Japanese discoveries

Sceptics might believe that these are just ghost stories, fit only for frightening children.

But macabre discoveries such as these are a common occurrence in present day Japan.

According to multiple media sources, over the past four years the Japanese Coast Guards intercepted hundreds of small fishing ships floating in the Sea of Japan. Many of these are found with no crew on board.

But others, such as the small boat recovered on 20 November 2015 carried the dead bodies of no less than 10 fishermen.

The Japanese experts believe ships such as these are North Korean in origin, an expression of the drive of the reclusive regime towards increasing food production, in particularly fishing.

How do the boats become deserted? Also,  how do some of these crews perish on the high seas is a mystery.

What future for Ghost shipsmystery and horror?

Present day ships are nearly always equipped with trackers, GPS systems, satellite phones and even Internet access.

In these conditions one would expect not to hear of ghost ships anymore.

Yet mysterious accidents and incidents at sea are bound to occur.

If anything, the very recent case of the disappeared Argentine submarine tells us exactly that.

Maybe we haven’t seen the last of the ghost ships!




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