The Mary Celeste is one of the most famous maritime mysteries in history. The ship was discovered adrift in the Atlantic Ocean in 1872, with no crew aboard. The fate of the crew remains unknown to this day. In this article, we will explore what happened to Mary Celeste and the various theories surrounding its disappearance.
The Mary Celeste was a 282-ton brigantine built in Nova Scotia, Canada, in 1861. It was originally named Amazon and was used for transporting lumber. In 1868, the ship was sold to a new owner, who renamed it the Mary Celeste and converted it for use as a cargo ship.
- Theories about the Disappearance
- Investigation and Recovery
- Possible Explanations
What is the Mary Celeste?
The Mary Celeste was captained by Benjamin Briggs, a seasoned sailor who had previously captained other ships. In November 1872, the Mary Celeste set sail from New York City bound for Genoa, Italy. The ship was carrying 1,701 barrels of raw American alcohol, which was highly flammable.
On December 4, 1872, the crew of the Dei Gratia, a British brigantine, spotted the Mary Celeste adrift in the Atlantic Ocean about 400 miles east of the Azores. The Dei Gratia was a few days out of Gibraltar when it spotted the Mary Celeste. When the crew of the Dei Gratia boarded the Mary Celeste, they found that the ship was deserted. The crew’s personal belongings, including clothing, valuables, and papers, were still on board. The ship’s cargo of alcohol was intact, and there was plenty of food and fresh water on board.
Theories about the Disappearance
One of the theories about the disappearance of the crew is that the ship was attacked by pirates. However, there was no evidence of a struggle, and nothing had been stolen from the ship.
Another theory is that the crew mutinied and killed Captain Briggs and his family. However, there was no evidence of a struggle, and no signs of violence on board the ship.
Some have suggested that a seaquake, a sudden underwater disturbance, caused the crew to abandon the ship. However, this theory is unlikely, as there were no reports of a seaquake in the area at the time.
Another theory is that the crew made a mistake that caused them to abandon ship. This could have been caused by a number of factors, such as a navigational error, a misunderstanding about the condition of the ship, or a mistake in handling the cargo.
A more far-fetched theory is that the crew was abducted by aliens. However, there is no evidence to support this theory.
Investigation and Recovery
Investigation by Salvage Master
After discovering the Mary Celeste, the crew of the Dei Gratia sailed the abandoned ship to Gibraltar and reported the incident to the authorities. The salvage master appointed to investigate the disappearance of the crew found no evidence of foul play or violence on board the ship.
A court of inquiry was held in Gibraltar to investigate the disappearance of the crew. The inquiry concluded that the crew had abandoned the ship, but the reason for their abandonment was unknown.
Discovery of the Mary Celeste
The Mary Celeste was eventually found by a British vessel, the Brigantine Dei Gratia, which had set sail from Gibraltar. The ship was still seaworthy and was taken back to port for further investigation.
One of the most plausible explanations for the disappearance of the crew is that they abandoned the ship due to alcohol fumes. The Mary Celeste was carrying a cargo of raw American alcohol, which was highly flammable. If the fumes had built up in the hold, it could have caused an explosion, which would have forced the crew to abandon ship. However, there is no evidence to support this theory.
Another possible explanation is that a seaquake caused the crew to abandon the ship. A sudden underwater disturbance could have caused the ship to roll violently, which would have been enough to make the crew think that the ship was sinking. However, as previously mentioned, there were no reports of a seaquake in the area.
It is also possible that the crew made a mistake that caused them to abandon the ship. This could have been caused by a number of factors, such as a navigational error, a misunderstanding about the condition of the ship, or a mistake in handling the cargo.
Piracy and Mutiny
While there is no evidence to support the theory that the crew was attacked by pirates or mutinied, it is still a possibility. The lack of evidence could be explained by the fact that the ship was adrift for several days before it was discovered, giving any attackers or mutineers ample time to cover their tracks.
The disappearance of the crew of the Mary Celeste remains one of the most enduring maritime mysteries in history. While there are many theories about what happened, there is no definitive explanation. The most likely explanation is that the crew abandoned the ship due to some unknown reason, but what that reason was remains a mystery.
- Was the cargo of alcohol intact when the Mary Celeste was discovered?
Yes, the cargo of alcohol was intact when the Mary Celeste was discovered.
- Was there any evidence of foul play or violence on board the ship?
No, there was no evidence of foul play or violence on board the ship.
- Could alcohol fumes have caused the crew to abandon the ship?
It is possible, but there is no concrete evidence to support this theory.
- What was the court of inquiry’s conclusion about the disappearance of the crew?
The court of inquiry concluded that the crew had abandoned the ship, but the reason for their abandonment was unknown.
- Why is Mary Celeste important?
The Mary Celeste is important because of the enduring mystery surrounding its disappearance, which has captured the imagination of people for over a century.