5 spooky ghost ship stories for a terrifying Halloween

Nautical Channel
29 Oct 2021

To get you in the spirit for Halloween, we have collected some of the spookiest and most mysterious stories of haunted ghost ships around the world. Get comfortable and prepare yourself to get spooked. 

SS Ourang Medan

Our story starts at some point of June 1947. Two American vessels navigating the Straits of Malacca, among others passing by, picked up a distress call from the nearby Dutch merchant ship Ourang Medan. A radio operator aboard the vessel sent the following message in Morse code:

S.O.S. from Ourang Medan. We float. All officers including the captain, dead in the chartroom and on the bridge. Probably whole of crew dead * * *. 

After some confused dots and dashes, two words came out clearly:


When the Silver Star crew located and boarded the Ourang Medan, the ship was found to their horror with deceased corpses sprawled on their backs, frightened faces and resembling horrible caricatures. There were no survivors and no visible signs of injuries on the dead bodies. Just as the ship was getting ready to be towed by the Silver Star, a fire broke out in the ship’s cargo-hold, forcing the rescuers to evacuate. 

Mary Celeste

Mary Celeste was an American brigantine that sailed from New York on November 7, 1872 bound for Genoa, Italy, with a cargo of alcohol. Around the same time Mary Celeste prepared to sail, the Canadian brigantine Dei Gratia (captained by David Morehouse) awaited a cargo of petroleum also destined for Genoa. 

Morehouse and Briggs, Mary Celeste’s captain, had much in common. This is why Dei Gratia found it extremely uncommon when they spotted the Mary Celeste drifting between the Azores and Portugal. They took the decision to board the Mary Celeste to unveil the mystery, and they were not prepared for what they found. 

The ship was completely deserted. 

Sails were partly in a poor condition, and the rigging was damaged, but the ship was in sailing conditions. The entire crew disappeared, including Captain Briggs, his wife and child. As there were no signs of fire or violence, the evidence indicated the crew left the ship with a lifeboat, but they were never found again. 


The warming temperatures mean the Northwest Passage is free to sail through, but this was not always the case. The Octavius ship left England for Orient in 1761 and successfully arrived at their destination the following year. However, on the return the captain gambled on passing through the treacherous Northwest Passage. 

The sea was trapped in the ice and was not seen again until the three-masted schooner was found off the coast of Greenland in 1775. The men who boarded the ship confronted a terrifying sight: all 28 crew members were found frozen in almost perfect state.

The captain’s body was still at his cabin’s desk, writing on his logbook, with his pen still in hand. The last entry was in 1762.

Could this have been the outcome of Breskell a couple of hundred years ago?

The Flying Dutchman

This is probably the most infamous ghost ship in history around the world. It originates from the 17th-century during the Golden Age of the Dutch East India Company and Dutch maritime power. According to the legend, 17th-century Dutch captain Bernard Fokke was renowned for the speed of his trips from the Netherlands to Java, but was suspected of being aided by the devil.

The crew eventually committed a terrible crime and the vessel was prohibited from entering port. 

Angry about this denial and confident to sail through at record speed, the captain attempted to round the Cape of Good Hope during a terrible storm. The ship foundered and the full crew perished. 

If hailed by another ship, the crew of the Flying Dutchman tries sending messages to land or to people long dead. Sightings of this phantom ship take place during bad weather, and are considered bad omens for those who pass her. 

Prince George of Wales, the future King George V, apparently saw her all aglow close to Australia as they passed the Bass strait. Many others claim to have seen The Flying Dutchman, but not all return to tell it. 

You might like: Discover the Bass Strait with A Date with the Strait

Kaz II

In more recent ghost ship stories, Kaz II has been dubbed the ghost yacht. The 9.8-metre catamaran was found drifting 88 nautical miles off the north-eastern coast of Australia on 20 April 2007. 

The fate of the three-man crew remains unknown, and the disappearance can be comparable to the one of the Mary Celeste. Derek Batten, Peter Tunstead and James Tunstead, men in their 50s and 60s suddenly disappeared with no trace behind from their boat. 

Maritime authorities found everything normal on the yacht: food was on the table, the laptop was on and the engine was running. The only difference was the sail was ripped. 

Conspiracy theories go from pirates, fraud or even paranormal activities. A coroner proposed the friends drowned after falling overboard, but the mystery remains unsolved as their bodies have not been found. 

Do you have more spooky ghost ship stories for this Halloween? If so, we would love to hear them on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. 

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