Top 10 Creepiest Shipwreck Mysteries That Will Freak You Out
VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton
WRITTEN BY: Anna Dang
These shipwreck mysteries will give you a sinking feeling. For this list, we'll be looking at ships and vessels that were lost - and sometimes found again - in inexplicable or spooky circumstances. Our countdown includes SS Andrea Doria, The Mary Celeste, HMS Terror, and more!
Top 10 Creepiest Shipwreck Mysteries That Will Freak You Out
These will give you a sinking feeling. Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Creepiest Shipwreck Mysteries That Will Freak You Out.
For this list, we’ll be looking at ships and vessels that were lost - and sometimes found again - in inexplicable or spooky circumstances.
#10: SS Baychimo
In October 1931, this cargo steamer got stuck in ice near the coast of Canada. Most of the crew was rescued by an aircraft; reluctant to abandon their cargo, the remaining men built a shelter nearby. A few weeks later, the seas were rocked by a blizzard: when it died down, the Baychimo was nowhere to be seen. The crew logically assumed that the ship had sunk during the storm, only for an Inuit hunter to spot it drifting aimlessly a few days later. Over the next thirty-eight years, the Baychimo was frequently sighted in Arctic waters; but despite several attempts, no one was able to salvage her. The steamer became known as “the Ghost Ship of the Arctic,” and was last seen in 1969.
#9: The Antikythera Wreck
It’s no secret that old shipwrecks often hide mysterious treasures. When a crew of Greek sponge divers found the wreck of a Roman-era ship in 1900, they brought up statues, coins, glasswork… and a puzzling clockwork mechanism made out of solid bronze. After careful observation, experts described the instrument as a type of analogue computer - the oldest of its kind. Thanks to a highly complex system of gears and wheels, the device could predict astronomical positions and eclipses over a span of decades. Built in the first or second century BC, the world’s oldest computer was lost in the sea, and lost to history: mechanisms of such intricacy were apparently not made again until the fourteenth century.
#8: MV Salem Express
The story of this French passenger ferry is sometimes referred to as the most tragic shipwreck in the Red Sea. In December 1991, the ship was about an hour away from the Safaga Port when it crashed into a reef on the Egyptian coast. The ferry started sinking in a matter of minutes, killing approximately five hundred people. The disaster sparked controversy over the number of lost lives: officials report that there were 690 people on board, and only 180 were saved. Today, the Salem Express is a popular diving destination because of its surprisingly well-preserved state: divers can still see the remains of luggage, including toys, clothes, and automobiles. Some have also reported hearing sounds of children laughing and car engines revving.
#7: SS Andrea Doria
This luxury liner has (literally) gone down in history as one of the world’s most famous maritime disasters; but back in 1956, it was a symbol of Italian national pride for its impressive size, speed, and supposed safety. On July 25th, the Andrea Doria was sailing in foggy weather near the coast of Massachusetts when she collided with the MS Stockholm. Thanks to the crew’s efficiency, the majority of passengers were evacuated and there were only forty-six casualties. But the tragedy didn’t stop there: since 1956, the wreck of the Andrea Doria has claimed the lives of at least twenty-two scuba divers and is now known as the “Everest of Wreck Diving.” It seems that this ship isn’t quite ready to rest in peace yet.
#6: Carroll A. Deering
For almost a century, the fate of the Deering has raised all kinds of speculations. In 1921, the schooner was found aground on the Diamond Shoals, an area also known as the “Graveyard of the Atlantic.” The sails were set, and there were prepared meals in the galley, but the crew and lifeboats were missing. The mystery seemed to be solved when a fisherman found a bottle containing a distress message from the Deering; however, he later admitted to forging it. Many theories have been considered: some argue there was a mutiny, as it was known that the captain had conflicts with his first mate. But others maintain it has more to do with the purported paranormal properties of the area later known as the Bermuda Triangle.
#5: SS Kamloops
Lake Superior, alas, never gives up her dead. As it was sailing in 1927, the Kamloops got caught in a storm and vanished, along with its twenty-two crew members. A year later, a devastating message washed up in Ontario, written by a woman who’d initially survived the shipwreck: “I am the last one left alive, freezing and starving to death on Isle Royale in Lake Superior. I just want mom and dad to know my fate.” When the Kamloops was finally discovered in 1977, everything was remarkably well-preserved by the icy water - including the corpse of a crewman, nicknamed “Old Whitey” by the locals. Creepily enough, divers report seeing Old Whitey following them around the wreck, as if his spirit were still trapped underwater.
#4: SS Mohegan
Sometimes, disaster strikes when you least expect it. Under the command of Captain Griffith, the Mohegan smoothly sailed down the English Channel in 1898; then, she inexplicably veered off her course and headed for the Manacles, a group of dangerous reefs near Cornwall. The crash led to 106 deaths; only forty-four people survived. The shipwreck was declared to be a consequence of human error, but some things didn’t add up. The evening was clear, and Captain Griffith was an experienced commander. Some speculated that he’d sunk the ship for insurance, and had gone into hiding afterwards. This theory was abandoned when Griffith’s headless body washed up on shore. Since none of the crew survived, we’ll probably never know what caused the downfall of the Mohegan.
#3: The Patriot
Aaron Burr is mostly known for duelling Alexander Hamilton, but did you know he also lost his daughter to one of the most mysterious shipwrecks of the nineteenth century? In the fall of 1812, Theodosia Burr Alston boarded the Patriot to reunite with her father in New York: the two hadn’t seen each other in years. Tragically, they were never to meet again: the Patriot disappeared at sea. While Burr believed that his daughter had drowned, rumors ran amok for decades. When a portrait of an unknown woman resurfaced in 1869, people commented on its resemblance to Theodosia. This hint seemed to confirm the theory that the Patriot had been plundered by pirates; but ultimately, the fate of the ship remains murky to this day.
#2: The Mary Celeste
Of all the ghost ships that have sailed the seven seas, the Mary Celeste is the most famous one. This nineteenth-century merchant ship was transporting industrial alcohol when it was found deserted near the Azores, in the Atlantic Ocean. Despite damaged sails, the ship was in seaworthy condition and stocked with plenty of food. So what possessed the crew to abandon ship? Over the years, several explanations have been advanced, including mutiny, an explosion caused by alcohol fumes, and even a giant squid attack. The ship was immortalized in countless works of fiction, including a story by Arthur Conan Doyle. In reality, no one knows for sure what happened to the Mary Celeste - and none of its crew was ever heard from again.
Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.
The Sinister Submarine That Kept Sinking
The Elusive French Vessel That Refuses to Be Found
The Loss of Australia’s Titanic
The Unsolved Disappearance of an United States Navy Ship
Not So Victorious After All
#1: HMS Terror
In 1845, Sir John Franklin set out to cross the Northwest Passage, in the Canadian Arctic, with two exploration ships, the Terror and the Erebus. One year in, the ships became trapped in ice and the 129 expedition members were never seen alive again. It’s believed that initial survivors abandoned ship, then succumbed to exposure and starvation while trying to walk to safety. But experts still have questions about what caused the expedition to go so terribly wrong - especially after they discovered the wreck of the Terror in 2016, sixty miles south of where it was supposed to be. For now, the secrets of this tragedy remain where they have been for almost two centuries: in the deep, dark waters of the Arctic.