The Mary Celeste and her disappearing crew may be the most famous maritime mystery of all. We'll never know for sure what happened to that doomed vessel, but over the years there have been many other cases of people going inexplicably missing at sea. Here are just some of the more perplexing examples to have arisen rather more recently than the Victorian era...
The Kaz II
In April 2007, three friends set off on a pleasure cruise off the coast of Australia. Their yacht, the Kaz II, was later found drifting with no sign of the men. The GPS and radio were functioning as normal, all the life-jackets were on board, laundry was hanging out to dry, and a meal was even laid out on the dining table. Eerily, investigators also found video footage the men took of themselves shortly before they disappeared, with everything seemingly normal. The official report proposed that all three men had somehow accidentally fallen overboard within moments of each other, but no better explanation has ever come to light.
The High Aim 6
In October 2002, a ship called the High Aim 6 left a port in Taiwan on a seemingly normal voyage. But something clearly went very badly wrong, because months later she was found adrift and crew-less. In the classic ghost ship manner, everything seemed normal on board, with no signs of violence or looting. A breakthrough came when authorities learnt the chief engineer's mobile phone was still being used in Indonesia. This apparently led them to one crew member who claimed there had been some kind of mutiny and the captain had in fact been murdered. Yet he didn't share any more details and no explanation has ever been given for what happened to the mutineers. The entire case has since fallen into inexplicable obscurity.
The Jian Seng
A true ghost ship, the Jian Seng was an anonymous, unmanned vessel found floating in Australian waters in 2006. All investigators knew for sure was that it was a tanker, but it had no name or identifying marks, and its only cargo was some rice. Some papers on board suggested the ship's name was Jian Seng, but its place of origin was a total mystery. To add to the confusion, there was no sign of distress or illegal activity on board, seemingly ruling out its use as a vessel for people traffickers or drug smugglers. All investigators could conclude was that it had been abandoned long ago. We'll likely never know who owned the ship and where it came from.
The MV Joyita
Back in November 1955, a particularly grisly ghost ship was found adrift in the South Pacific. This was the MV Joyita, which had been last seen leaving Samoa with 25 people on board, including a government official and two children. Unlike other ghost ships, the Joyita was in disarray, with partial flooding due to internal damage, and blood-stained bandages found on board. Puzzlingly, all the lifeboats were missing - but why would everyone have abandoned the vessel when it was still buoyant?
One theory was that the captain was injured or killed (hence the bloody bandages), and so nobody was there to advise against the passengers abandoning ship when the flooding occurred. Or perhaps the flooding had triggered a panic-stricken mutiny? Some journalists even wondered if Soviet forces had abducted the crew. Whatever the cause, the mystery of the "Mary Celeste of the South Pacific" lives on.