Unbelievable Ghost Ship Tales: Top 5 Historic Accounts

While watching the movie Ghost Ship, I became intrigued by the idea of ghost ships in history. Fictional ghost ships seen in movies like Pirates of the Caribbean, 30 Days of Night and Ghost Ship are based on legends, but there are many amazing documented stories of ghost ships around the world which have been found with their crews mysteriously missing. Documented ghost ships do exist. These are my top five unbelievable historic ghost ship stories.


John Franklin commanded two ships, Terror and Erebus, which set sail from England in May 1845 bound for the Northwest Passage. The expedition was last seen by Europeans in July of the same year. Native Inuits report that both ships became locked in the ice and abandoned by their crews who tried to cross land to find safety. According to the Inuits and blade markings found on the few bones recovered, the crew eventually resorted to cannibalism and died in the harsh climate. Later the Inuits found one of the abandoned ships, believed to be the Terror, floating in a cove, with one of the masts reportedly on fire. They found one dead seaman on board.

HMS Resolute

In 1852 Admiral Sir Edward Belcher led an expedition to rescue Sir John Franklin, who had disappeared with his two ships Terror and Erebus during the 1845 Northwest Passage expedition. Belcher commanded five ships including the HMS Resolute. The Resolute became locked in ice in the fall of 1853 and was abandoned in May 1854. In September 1855, the ghost ship Resolute was found drifting approximately 1,200 miles from where it had been abandoned.

The Mary Celeste

The brigantine merchant ship The Mary Celeste is possibly the most famous of the true tales of ghost ship and vanished crews. The ship was discovered still seaworthy and under sail heading towards the Straits of Gibraltar off the coast of Portugal, in December 1872. Although her cargo and all the belongings of the crew were discovered on board along with over six months worth of food and water, her experienced crew had vanished without a trace.

The Baychimo

The steel 1,322 ton cargo steamer The Baychimo became trapped in pack ice in October, 1931. After a blizzard struck, the crew made it safely off the ship to shelter, but the ship disappeared. A few days later, a seal hunter saw the ship about 45 miles away from her crew. For 38 years the Baychimo ghost ship continued to appear in documented sightings, floating empty.

The Jian Seng

One of the strangest stories of ghost ships at sea involves the mysterious 80-meter tanker Jian Seng which was found adrift in uncharted waters south-west of Queensland, Australia, in March 2006 with her crew vanished. Signs indicated the tanker had been drifting alone for a very long time. There was no evidence of recent human activity, but there was a large quantity of food found on board. The Jian Seng’s registration and origin were never discovered, and the ghost ship was eventually sunk.


Top Ten Most Amazing True Ghost Ship Stories