The Mary Celeste (often incorrectly referred to as Marie Celeste) was a
brigantine merchant ship notably discovered in December 1872 in the
Atlantic Ocean unmanned and apparently abandoned, despite the fact that
the weather was fine and her crew had been experienced and able seamen.
The Mary Celeste was in seaworthy condition and still under sail heading
towards the Strait of Gibraltar.
She had been at sea for a month and
had over six months' worth of food and water on board.
Her cargo was virtually untouched and the personal belongings of passengers and crew were still in place, including valuables.
The crew was never seen or heard from again. Their disappearance is often cited as the greatest maritime mystery of all time.
The fate of her crew has been the subject of much speculation.
range from alcoholic fumes, to underwater earthquakes, to waterspouts,
to paranormal explanations involving hypothetical extraterrestrial,
unidentified flying objects, sea monsters, and the hypothetical
phenomena of the Bermuda Triangle.
The Mary Celeste is often described as the archetypal
ghost ship, since she was discovered derelict without any apparent
explanation, and her name has become a synonym in British culture for
Sporadic bad weather had been reported in the Atlantic throughout
October, although the Dei Gratia encountered none and her journey across
the ocean in November was uneventful.
Just short of a month later after leaving port, on December 4th, 1872
(some reports give December 5th, owing to a lack of standard time zones
in the 19th century), at approximately 13:00, the helmsman of the Dei
Gratia, John Johnson, sighted a ship about five miles off their port bow
through his spyglass.
The position of the Dei Gratia was approximately some 600 miles west of Portugal.
Johnson's keen, experienced eyes detected almost at once that there was
something strangely wrong with the other vessel.
She was yawing
slightly, and her sails did not look right, being slightly torn.
Johnson alerted his second officer, John Wright, who looked and had the
same feelings about her. They informed the captain.
As they moved
closer, they saw the ship was the Mary Celeste. Captain Morehouse
wondered why the Mary Celeste had not already reached Italy, as she had a
head start on his own ship.
According to the account given by the crew of the Dei Gratia, they
approached to 400 yards from the Mary Celeste and cautiously observed
her for two hours.
She was under sail, yet sailing erratically on a starboard tack, and
slowly heading toward the Strait of Gibraltar.
They concluded she was
drifting after seeing no one at the wheel or even on deck, though the
ship was flying no distress signal. Oliver Deveau, chief mate of the Dei
Gratia, boarded the Mary Celeste.
He reported he did not find anyone on board, and said that "the whole
ship was a thoroughly wet mess".
There was only one operational pump,
two apparently having been disassembled, with a lot of water between
decks and three and a half feet (1.1 m) of water in the hold. However,
the ship was not sinking and was still seaworthy.
All of the ship's papers were missing, except for the
captain's logbook. The forehatch and the lazarette were both open,
although the main hatch was sealed.
The ship's clock was not functioning, and the compass was destroyed; the sextant and marine chronometer were missing.
The only lifeboat on the Mary Celeste, a yawl located above the main
hatch, was also missing. The peak halyard, used to hoist the main sail,
A rope, perhaps the peak halyard, was found tied to the ship very
strongly and the other end, very frayed, was trailing in the water
behind the ship.
Popular stories of untouched breakfasts with still-warm cups of tea on
the cabin table are untrue and most likely originated with fictionalized
accounts of the incident, especially one by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
the inquiry, Oliver Deveau stated that he saw no preparations for eating
and there was nothing to eat or drink in the cabin.
Deveau returned to his ship and reported to the captain. Two men,
Charles Augustus Anderson and Charles Lund, then boarded the Mary
Celeste. The cargo of 1,701 barrels of alcohol Devreau reported, was in
However, when it was eventually unloaded in Genoa, nine barrels were
found to be empty. A six-month supply of uncontaminated food and fresh
water was still aboard, and the crew's personal possessions and
artifacts were left untouched, making a piracy raid seem extremely
It appeared the vessel had been abandoned in a hurry. There
was no sign of a struggle, or any sort of violence.
Mary Celeste was built in 1861 in
Spencer's Island, Nova Scotia and she was the first one built of many
large ships in the community. Three captains died aboard her in the
The ship was discovered one day in December 1872 in the
Atlantic Ocean unmanned and just floating in the calm waters as if the
crew just abandoned her. But why?
Many theories have been suggested from alcoholic fumes, to sea monsters, to phenomena of the Bermuda Triangle.
In Search Of...The Ghost Ship
1872, the captain and crew of the Mary Celeste vanished without a trace.
The sails were set to the wind and breakfast was on the table. Who or
what possessed the ship? Original broadcast: January 24th, 1980.
The Marie Celeste Ghost Ship
What happened to the crew of the Marie Celeste?
During a horrific storm at sea, the crew realizes that there is a
murderer among them who is killing them off one by one. A masterpiece of
The American ship Mary Celeste’ was found drifting in the middle of the
Atlantic on December 5th, 1872, abandoned and derelict. In this
reconstruction from the records of the Attorney General at Gibraltar,
the story starts at New York Harbor in 1872, where Captain Benjamin
Briggs (Arthur Margetson) is hard pressed to find a crew for the ‘Mary
The ship has a reputation for being jinxed. However, he
intends to sail at all costs, for he intends to marry the exquisite
Sarah Briggs (Shirley Grey) on high seas.
Captain Morehead (Clifford
McLaglen) has already asked for her hand, and is willing to make a
considerable sacrifice for her, but he loses out to the headstrong
On the dock, the drunken, one-armed sailor Anton Lorenzen (Bela
Lugosi) arrives at Simpson’s Bar, aged years beyond his time after a
mishap at sea.
When Capt. Briggs talks the local loan shark into
shanghaiing a crew for him, he manages to lure Lorenzen into signing up
with the promise of unlimited booze.
But Capt. Briggs is still one man
short, and approaches Morehead. Bent on revenge for being cheated out of
his love, Morehead plants a saboteur on board. With an unwilling crew
on board, the deck is set for disaster.