Ships That Disappeared Without a Trace

It might seem a little twisted, but there’s always something fascinating about a mysterious disappearance. Because the ocean is so wide and so deep, it’s hard to discover where the vessels vanished, but it brings up interesting theories and speculations. People can never know the truth unless they find the missing ships, but anything could be responsible for vanishings. Sometimes, a bit or a piece from the ship may be found, but most of the times, there’s nothing at all. Below are some famous ships that disappeared without a trace throughout history:

USS Cyclops1. USS Cyclops

The Cyclops is one of the most famous early 20th-century ship disappearances. The vessel vanished sometime after March 4, 1918, with 309 men aboard, hitting the record of the single largest loss of life in the naval history of the US. She was a steel-hulled fuel ship assigned to carry coal, manganese ore and other supplies to the US Navy. The ship was last spotted when she left Barbados and sailed into what we refer today as the Bermuda Triangle. Cyclops seemed to disappear without a trace since no bad weather was reported in the region and no emergency call was made from the ship. A huge search and rescue operation had been launched, with many boats and planes scouring the area for survivors or debris, but nothing was found.

Theories explaining the ship’s disappearance began to surface such as being attacked by a giant squid or octopus or a submarine. Because it happened during World War I, it was also considered that the ship had been a victim of a vicious mutiny or being sunk by the Germans. The Office of Naval Intelligence has revealed that the ship’s captain was German-born, and he was accused of conspiring with the enemy and handing the ship to them. However, even after checking German records after the war, nothing was ever confirmed.

2. The Witchcraft

An experienced yachtsman, Dan Burack set sail in the 23-foot luxury yacht named Witchcraft on the night of December 22, 1967, with his priest friend, Father Patrick Horgan. They went out to enjoy a spectacular view of the Christmas lights off the coast of Miami in his cabin cruiser that has a special flotation device that makes her unsinkable. But after sailing just a mile, the pair experienced difficulty when the boat seemed to strike an unknown object. Burack calmly made a call to the Miami Coast Guard to report the trouble and request help in towing back to the marina. The Coast Guard responded immediately and arrived at the scene just 19 minutes after the call.

However, no trace of the yacht, nor Burack or Horgan was found. The Coast Guard searched more than 1,200 square miles that night and eventually expanded the search for six days, covering around 24,500 square miles. Yet, they didn’t see even the slightest clue as to the whereabouts of the two men and their luxury yacht. The Witchcraft has been listed as another vessel mysteriously lost to the Bermuda Triangle.

3. SS Marine Sulphur Queen

The SS Marine Sulphur Queen was a 160-meter tanker ship that used to carry oil during the World War II and was later converted to carry molten sulfur. Its last voyage started on February 2, 1963, out of Beaumont, Texas, carrying a cargo of sulfur weighing 15,260 tons. Two days after, the ship sent out a routine radio message which didn’t indicate any problems. After that, no news from the Sulphur Queen was heard. As of February 6, she was declared missing. The Coast Guard searched for the vessel and her 39 crew members for 19 days but only some debris and life preservers were found.

According to the investigation by the Coast Guard, the Marine Sulphur Queen should never have sailed because she was in a poor condition. Sulfur leakage was so frequent and fires often broke out around the holding tanks that the crew just got used to it. Many suggested that the ship might have exploded. Other theories suggested different causes, all because of the ship’s poor maintenance and design. Some blamed the disappearance on the Bermuda Triangle.

USS Porpoise4. USS Porpoise

The USS Porpoise served a lot of purpose during its existence. It was a brig involved in the exploration and surveying missions in the 19th century. The ship took part in a voyage that confirmed the existence of Antarctica in 1838 and then circumnavigated the globe. She also carried 69 men to survey the South Sea islands from Hong Kong in 1854.

After surveying the South Pacific Islands, the Porpoise resupplied in China and went off in September 1854. But somewhere between China and Taiwan, she sailed into a dense fog and got separated from her partner ship, USS Vincennes. She was never heard from again. Other ships searched for the brig for over a year, but no trace of her was ever found. It is likely that the crew encountered a very harsh weather such as a typhoon, wrecking the ship with all hands lost, but without evidence, we can’t conclude it.

5. F/V Andrea Gail

A commercial shipping vessel, the Andrea Gail was nothing if not extraordinary. She was a 72-foot long boat that fished in the North Atlantic for swordfish. In September 1991, she set sail from Gloucester, Massachusetts along with other fishing vessels. By October, the ship and its six-man crew vanished on a trip to Newfoundland when then she faced a high-pressure system that slammed into a low-pressure system, which then absorbed Hurricane Grace – an unusual natural disaster that has been dubbed as the Perfect Storm. It was believed that Andrea Gail faced waves as high as 100 feet, got sucked into the massive waves and flipped over repeatedly. None of the crew survived to tell the story. Several rescue missions were launched to find the ship after the storm, but nothing was found.

The story of the storm and the imagined fate of the ship and its crew was narrated in 1997 through Sebastian Junger’s book, The Perfect Storm. A Hollywood film adaptation of the book with the same title was released in 2000.