Home Society and HistoryHistoryThe Mary Celeste: Abandoned Ship Full of Mysteries
The Mary Celeste: Abandoned Ship Full of Mysteries

The Mary Celeste: Abandoned Ship Full of Mysteries

Mary Celeste has always been an interesting name for those who care about the world mysteries. By far, the reasons why the Mary Celeste was abandoned by an experienced caption remains a mystery. Scholars have put forward many theories. However, they are not so persuasive enough.

On December 4, 1872, she was found adrift in the seas of Atlantic. The ship along with the cargo was nearly intact. What attracted the scholars the most was that there was neither captain nor crew on the ship. Everyone vanished into thin air. It has been enduring as a mystery for more than 135 years.

Mary Celeste’s Crew

She was a merchant brigantine that people first called her Amazon in 1861. Seven years later, she was transferred to American ownership and had a new name as the Mary Celeste.

She spent her life at sea uneventfully until 1872. The year of 1872 marked her last voyage from New York to Genoa. Benjamin Briggs was the captain. He was a staunch abstainer from alcohol and a devout Christian. People said Briggs was brave and was born to become a true captain. He would never abandon his ship unless to save his life. Along with him on the voyage was his wife, his two-year-old daughter, and seven other crew members.

Briggs Family
Briggs Family

Towards the end of October 1872, the loading of the ship’s cargo – 1701 barrels of poisonous alcohol – began. On November 7, the Mary Celeste left New York, and sailed into the Atlantic. On December 7, a British crew discovered the Mary Celeste sailing between Azores and Portugal.

Everything was nearly intact

Finding Mary Celeste, the crew of Dei Graia made a closer inspection. They found out that there was no one on board. The last entry of the ship’s daily log was on November 24. Except for the fact that there was no one on board, the ship was still in seaworthy condition. The cargo was still intact. Food and water supply were sufficient for six months.

They found out that Mary Celeste had left the smoking pipes behind. David Morehouse, the captain of Dei Gratia, claimed that this was the sign that the crew had left in a panic. The ship’s single lifeboat, as well as chronometer and sextant, were nowhere to be found.

Memorial of Mary Celeste crew
Memorial of Mary Celeste crew

According to the seaman of the Dei Gratia, the main halyard, the sturdy rope about 8cm (3inches) in circumference, was found broken and hanging over the side of the Mary Celeste.

What Actually Happened?

So what the scholars widely accepted was that: something occurred on Mary Celeste that made the captain panic. He ordered the crew to get into the lifeboat and abandoned the ship. The halyard then attached to the lifeboat. And the crew trailed behind the ship to watch what happened to her.

However, the panic was a false alarm. Unfortunately, the Captain and his crew never made their way back to the ship.

Other possible theories are still out there. Some claim that the ship experienced a seaquake which was quite common in the Azores. Some argue that seaquakes caused nine barrels of the denatured alcohol to spill. This scared the captain off because the alcoholic fumes could cause explosion. And many more other theories. Yet, not a single one could successfully persuade everyone about the disappearance of Brigg’s crew.

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