‘Ghost ships’, pirates and a love triangle – baffling tales of those lost at sea

It's enough to send a shiver down any seafarer’s spine…vanishing without trace in the vast waters of the world.

But that’s what has happened to both people and entire ships over the years.

Often, people's first instinct is to blame pirates, the bandits of the sea. But in some instances, the clues point elsewhere. And in other cases, there aren't many clues, if any at all.

From the infamous tale of the deserted Mary Celeste to the more recent case involving a Disney cruise ship worker, some lost at sea mysteries are truly chilling.

Here, in one of six features included in your free Daily Star eight-page pullout on Friday March 5, NADINE LINGE looks at the spookiest cases of disappearances at sea.

Rebecca Coriam

It's been 10 years since Brit Rebecca disappeared in March 2011.

The 24-year-old was a crew member on the Disney Wonder cruise ship but vanished seemingly into thin air while the boat was sailing the Pacific Coast of Mexico.

The vessel and the waters it had passed through were searched but her body was never found. Investigators concluded Rebecca went overboard, possibly due to a rogue wave, but there were accusations of a cover-up – if the wave had been so large, there would have been damage to the ship.

In 2015 Rebecca’s family’s MP in Chester, Chris Matheson, said he feared she had been murdered.

It was also discovered that she had been in a “love triangle” with a woman and a man. But what really happened remains a mystery.

Alan Addis

Royal Marine Alan Addis was just 19 when he disappeared without trace from the Falkland Islands in 1980

He had been part of a three-man team journeying to a remote area to pick up crew and equipment. That night the group attended a function in the village hall.

The next day the team began their journey back to the capital Stanley via boat – only to discover Alan was not on board.

The initial view was Alan had either fallen overboard or mistakenly stepped off a jetty into the South Atlantic. Later suggestions were that he had become disoriented and wandered off, possibly succumbing to hypothermia.

All documents relating to the case were lost in the Falklands War. Various investigations took place afterwards but no body was found.

But a 2018 Forces TV documentary featured interviews with people who believed Alan had been murdered, possibly in a fight over a woman, and his body taken out of the settlement.

Crew of the Mary Celeste

In December 1872 an American merchant ship was discovered adrift in the Atlantic Ocean.

Its lifeboat, captain and crew had disappeared. Yet the craft was still seaworthy, its cargo was intact and there was six months’ supply of food on board.

One theory blamed a mutiny after strange marks were discovered which could have been made by an axe.

Other suggestions say the ship could have been overrun by pirates. Some still believe the Mary Celeste was attacked by a sea monster or the crew attempted an insurance fraud, and the missing lifeboat seems to indicate they tried to escape.

Perhaps the most convincing is that the crew abandoned the ship after fumes from the 1,700 barrels of crude alcohol on board escaped, prompting fears of an explosion.

Crew of the Joyita

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When the Joyita left Samoa in October 1955 she was carrying 16 crew members and nine passengers.

But three days later, she had not arrived at her destination, 270 miles away in the Tokelau Islands. There had been no distress signal, and a search and rescue mission found no sign of the ship, her crew or British captain, Tom Miller.

Five weeks later the Joyita was sighted more than 600 miles west from her scheduled route with no trace of passengers or cargo.

A doctor’s bag was found containing blood-stained bandages. An inquiry found a fractured cooling pipe had caused flooding but the Joyita would still have remained afloat. It could find no explanation as to why or where the people on board had gone. Theories include the crew being kidnapped by a Soviet submarine or pirates.

Derek Batten, Peter and James Tunstead

In April 2007, Derek Batten – the owner of catamaran Kaz II – set off on a trip around the northern coast of Australia with brothers Peter and James Tunstead.

Three days later, the Kaz II was spotted by a helicopter whose crew reported that the 32ft vessel was in potential distress.

Officials boarded the ship but none of the three were on board.

But a half-drunk cup of coffee was on a table with an open newspaper, a laptop was turned on and the boat’s engine was still running.

The only clues to what had happened was damage to a sail and a missing life raft.

While a coroner ruled the men drowned in a freak accident, more exotic theories claim they staged their own disappearance for insurance purposes or were kidnapped by drug smugglers or pirates.

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