The Greatest Enigma in the History of Navigation: The Ghost Ship Mary Celeste

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On November 7, 1872, the brigantine sailing ship Mary Celeste of 282 tons sailed from the port of New York on its way to Genoa, Italy. On board were the ship’s captain, Benjamin S. Briggs, his wife Sarah and their 2-year-old daughter, Sophia, along with eight crew members.

Less than a month later, on December 5, a British ship named Dei Gratia spotted Mary Celeste sailing at full speed about 400 miles (646 kilometers) east of the Azores, with no sign of the captain, his family or any of the crew, tells the story half.

Apart from several feet of water in the hold and a lost lifeboat, the ship had no damage and had food and water for six months.

The Greatest Enigma in the History of Navigation: The Ghost Ship Mary Celeste

Why would an experienced captain and all his crew leave the ship in perfect condition?

Except for some navigation tools, such as the sextant and the stopwatch, all the valuables were there, including the load, alcohol barrels worth almost US $ 37,000.

The last entry in the logbook was from November 24, however, the crew of the Dei Gratia who examined him on December 5 found over the still hot stove a casserole with freshly cooked chicken and on the table tea for three still hot .


Theories over the years have oscillated between riot and pirate assault by giant octopuses or sea monsters, while the most scientific theories proposed an explosion caused by the fumes of the 1,700 barrels of crude alcohol in the ship’s hold.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle even intervened with a short story published in 1884, in which the inhabitants of the ghost ship were victims of a former slave who sought revenge.

One theory was that the cook went crazy and poisoned the crew members until there were only three left, hence the tea cups found, and finally seeing Dei Gratia approaching himself committed suicide after poisoning the other two and throwing their bodies overboard.

Another hypothesis speculated on a possible conspiracy of the captains of the two ships, Briggs (Mary Celeste) and David Reed Morehouse (Dei Gratia) to collect the insurance money, since according to La Razón, they were good friends.

The Greatest Enigma in the History of Navigation The Ghost Ship Mary Celeste

Captain of Mary Celeste, Benjamin Briggs.

However, an investigation into whether to grant the insurance payment to the Dei Gratia crew for rescuing the “ghost ship” found no evidence of foul play.

Others have proposed that there may have been a leak in the shipment of alcohol that let out steam and at the risk of an explosion the crew opted to leave the ship.

A cursed ship?

The truth is that none of these theories could be proven, the only thing that has been confirmed is the dark past of the ship itself, Mary Celeste.

Originally baptized as Amazon, it was given a new name after a series of setbacks (including the sudden illness and death of its first captain and a collision with another ship in the English Channel).

Mary Celeste would sail with different owners for 12 years before her last captain deliberately stranded him in Haiti as part of an insurance fraud attempt.

The Greatest Enigma in the History of Navigation The Ghost Ship Mary Celeste2

Image of Mary Celeste and the wife and daughter of Captain Briggs.

In 2001, the successful novelist and adventurer Clive Cussler claimed to have found the shipwreck of Mary Celeste, but a later analysis of the wood recovered from the ship she found showed that the wood still lived at least a decade after Mary Celeste sank.

Despite the large number of theories in recent years, the truth is that no one knows for sure what happened to the crew of the Mary Celeste, the most famous ghost ship of the last two centuries.


Source: Bles Mundo