Tag Archives: ghost ship

76 years ago today: The end of the wagon

Now that’s a flattop! An image taken from a departing biplane, Aug 03, 1923 of the U.S. Navy’s first aircraft carrier, the converted collier USS Langley. NARA Photo 520639

On this day in February 1942, the U.S. Navy’s first aircraft carrier USS Langley, then operating as a seaplane carrier (AV-3). was attacked by 16 Mitsubishi G4M “Betty” twin-engine bombers of the Japanese 21st and 23rd Naval Air Flotillas south of Tjilatjap, Java, and was so badly damaged by at least five bombs that she had to be scuttled by her escorts.

The “covered wagon” which operated as the country’s only flattop from 21 April 1920 until USS Lexington was commissioned on 14 December 1927, was the cradle of U.S. Naval aviation. Without her, there would have been no almost 100-years of U.S. carrier dominance.

Via NNAM.1982.071.001 by aivation artist Robert Grant Smith, 1980.

Via NNAM.1982.071.001 by aviation artist Robert Grant Smith, 1980.

The painting is the artist’s rendering of the Navy’s first aircraft carrier, the USS LANGLEY (CV-1), conducting flight operations as a ghost ship in the company with one of the Navy’s most modern aircraft carriers, the USS NIMITZ (CVN-68). The painting celebrates the commissioning of the Nimitz 50 years after the first squadron operation off the Langley in 1925. The Nimitz is accompanied by a squadron of A-4M Skyhawks while the Langley is accompanied by a squadron of F6C -2 Curtiss Hawks

The sea sometimes leaves only mysteries. Especially the seas around the Hermit Kingdom

Wooden boats filled with decomposing bodies hinting at DPRK origins have been washing ashore in Japan. The boats appear to be full of fishing equipment, including tangled cords and netting, and fishing hooks, but little in the way of hull numbers, ship’s logs, flags or documentation.

Worse, it seems no one has reported these boats missing in the first place.

From Reuters:

The Japanese coast guard and police reported 12 incidents of wrecked wooden boats, including some that were in pieces, on the country’s shores and waters since October, containing 22 dead bodies, including five skulls.

Japanese authorities declined to comment on the origins of the boats or the possible identities of the dead, but a hand-written sign identified one boat as belonging to unit 325 of the North Korean army, according to footage from Japan’s NHK Television. Tattered cloth was found aboard the vessel that appeared to come from the North Korean flag, the video showed.

Defectors and experts say fishing boats under the command of the Korean People’s Army may have succumbed under pressure from Kim to catch more fish, drifting off course and ill-equipped for rough seas.

r 2EDC5FB100000578-3336715-image-a-4_1448646118816 2EDC5FAD00000578-3336715-image-a-5_1448646128641 STILLghostShip

From Stars and Stripes:

Abandoned ships washing ashore aren’t especially uncommon – 65 were found last year and 80 the year before, the coast guard told Stars and Stripes. However, the groups of ships landing so closely together and the state of some of the bodies — two of which were missing heads, per media reports — are raising questions about what may be happening in North Korea.

Some have suggested the ships were part of a coordinated defection, but Kim Jin Moo, a senior researcher from the Korea Institute for Defense Analyses in Seoul, strongly doubts it.

“They don’t seem to have gathered together and have been saying ‘Let’s [flee] by ship,’ ” Kim said.


The bones of the ‘the grandest white elephant’

This ship graveyard contains the graves of 230 United States Shipping Board Merchant Fleet Corporation ships sunk in the river in 1925. These ships were wooden hulled steamships made to a poor design during the Great War– the Liberty Ships of WWI if you will– then sold for their value as scrap.

Bethlehem Steel came down there in WWII and scraped up all the easy to reach steel for use in other enterprises, but the keels and wooden parts that escaped burning are still there, in the mud.

Mallows Bay is now in the process of protection under the National Marine Sanctuaries Act

Oh look!

So 30-feet worth of old fishing trawler just washed up off the Oregon Coast


The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department said that, “The debris appears to be half to two-thirds of a larger vessel, possibly damaged and set adrift during the earthquake and tsunami that struck the east coast of Japan in 2011.”

They could tell because it was reportedly full of marine life only found on the Japanese coast.

The song “Radioactive” just started playing in my head.

The Coast Guard had to sink a similar ghost ship off the Alaska Coast back in 2012.

Warship Wednesday, October 29th. The Ghost Ship St Christopher

Here at LSOZI, we are going to take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1859-1946 time period and will profile a different ship each week. These ships have a life, a tale all of their own, which sometimes takes them to the strangest places.

– Christopher Eger

Warship Wednesday, October 29th. The Ghost Ship St Christopher

(This piece, originally published by Sea Classics in October 2012 as The Schooner St Christopher- Ghost of the Mary Walker Bayou, is one that is very personal to me as I spent two years researching it on two continents and talking to three of the former owners. As a good Halloween tale, I am running it here on the blog. )

Here we see the twin masted Delfzil-built schooner St Christopher of the Caymans, hard aground in the reeds along the Mississippi Sand hill Crane Refuge, where she has been since 1998.

Ghost of the Mary Walker by Christopher Eger. Click to big up

Ghost of the Mary Walker by Christopher Eger. Click to big up

Slipping down the builders ways in interwar Western Europe, the schooner St Christopher survived World War Two while flying a German flag, lost all her masts along with her original name and worked as a tramp steamer for decades, changed names again and sailed the Caribbean as a tall ship under a host of swashbuckling owners, and finally survived being grounded by hurricanes– twice. Now she only haunts a forgotten backwater in Mississippi.

Beginning life as the Heniz Brey

In 1932 at the Scheepswerven Gebr Niestern & Co in Delfzil Holland, Hamburg shipping company owner Johannes Brey ordered Niestern bow number 190 for use as a twin-masted coastal shallow-draught schooner. The ship was named Heinz Brey after Johannes’ father.

Builders Plate

Builders Plate

Curiously, she appears twice in the Lloyds’ Register for that time period and is in both the sailing and steamer listings for the year she was completed as entry LR5145984. The vessel is the same in each as she has the same signal code (RFJN), year of build (1932), Builder (Gebr.Niestern and Co.) at Delfzijl, Netherlands, listed as owned by J Brey and has Hamburg as Port of Registry. She was issued and maintained a Germanischer Lloyd certification until 1955.

Heinz Brey as built

Heinz Brey as built

In the steamer listing, she was described as a steel vessel with one deck, an auxiliary screw propeller and oil engine. She is also described as ‘Galleas’ (or galleon which means she was primarily propelled by sails) She was listed as 116 tons gross, 93 under deck and 67 tons net. Her dimensions in feet and tenths of a foot were length in the steamer listing is 88.5, breadth, 18.9 and depth 7.3 (but in the sailing list her dimensions are given as 85.6 x 19.1 x 7.3 and her tonnage as 121). Photos of her at the time show that she carried a minimum of nine sails when both her masts and her bowsprit were rigged.

Sister hulls under construction in Holland 1932. F

Sister hulls under construction in Holland 1932. From H. Beukema Koninklijke Niestern Sander (2001)

In the steamer listing, her engine details are given as a German DeutschWekeKeil 74kw Type M42 two cylinder, forced air, four-stroke, single-acting engine that generated 22 nominal horsepower and 100-shp. Under power of this engine, the ship would cut blistering 6-knots. Two sister ships, constructed alongside the Heinz Brey to the same general specifications (save for a smaller engine) and for Hamburg based ship-owners were the Allegro (Niestern bouwnr.188) and Franziska (Niestern bouwnr.189). All three ships carried general cargo during the Great Depression-era in the Baltic area.

Sistership Allegro

Sistership Allegro

Service in World War Two

The Heinz Brey’s service in World War II has been lost to history. It is know that the vessel was pressed into service with the Kriegsmarine  in September 1939 and remained in use with coastal forces during the war, shuttling supplies, troops and carg around the Baltic. Her original owner, Johannes Brey, recovered the ship in poor condition in Wilhemstaven in November 1945 and returned her to service.

Her sister ships the Allegro and Franziska served alongside her.

The Allegro, (Kriegsmarine  pennant number V.1010) was brought to France to support Operation Sealion, the aborted invasion of Great Britain in 1940. When that failed she remained as a U-boat tender and general coaster.  Allegro was sunk just off Dieppe harbor at 49.56 N/01.04 E in on Sept 11, 1944.

Franziska used her shallow draft to good advantage transporting supplies to German troops in Norwegian fjords and evacuating more than 100 refugees from Pillaw, East Prussia ahead of the Soviet Army before the end of the war.

sistership Allegro

Sistership Allegro. She would be sunk by Allied bombs off the French coast while Heinz Brey and Franziska would be used to supply Norway and evacuate East Prussia in the last weeks of the war.

Tales of the Heinz Brey being a ‘ghost ship’ during the war, found afloat crammed with bodies of German civilians and soldiers killed by the advancing Red Army in 1945, have circulated but have not been confirmed. What is known is that Johannes Brey soon rid himself of his once-proud vessel.

Post-war renaming, conversion and Tramp steaming

Following her wartime service, the Heinz Brey was quickly sold in 1950 to Dietrich Mangels, who renamed her Aeolus and removed her after mast and bowsprit. Within a half-dozen years, she was sold at least twice more before winding up with Heinrich Behrmann at Krautsand in 1956. Behrmann had decided to convert the then 24-year old now single-master schooner to a traditional coastal freighter.

Aeolus 1956

Aeolus 1956

She was lengthened to 116 feet at the waterline, her final mast and sailing equipment was removed, and her overall weight ballasted to 240 DWT. (Coincidentally her surviving sister, Franziska, was converted and lengthened at about the same time) Painted with a black hull and buff superstructure. The converted ship, now renamed the Heinz Heino, sailed from Hamburg under a German flag carrying general cargo all along the North Sea and Baltic Coasts until 1979. During this period, she carried a Bureau Veritas certification.

Heinz Heino in Europe

Heinz Heino in Europe

Being too small and impractical for continued profitable service, the owner intended to sell the small freighter with her 47-year old engine for scrap in 1979.

A tall-ship again- with a yet another name

Dutch shipping investor AP Bakker said in a 1980 interview to a local paper: “We more or less accidentally saw the ship in a harbor close to Hamburg. We were not really looking for a ship like that, but something must have been in the back of our minds. We travel all over Europe, and you keep your eyes open.”

At Welgelegen, Harlingen on the slope in beginning 1980

At Welgelegen, Harlingen on the slope in beginning 1980, fixing to emerge as the…

St Christopher under refit 1980

…St Christopher under refit 1980.Now with masts once more!

With that, Mr. Baaker bought the Heinz Heino for 60,000-marks in September 1979 and sailed her to Bolsward, Holland for conversion back to a tall ship. She was reworked in a yearlong 1-million guilder ($500,000) conversion at Vooruit Shipyard in Bolsward. To the hull a bowsprit was added lengthening her to 44.20 meters (145ft) overall. The three new masts were installed with the top mast being 27m from the deck. The masts held 510 square meters of sail, divided over five headsails, including the inner and outer flying jibs, inner and outer jibs and the foresail, two mainsails as well as the mizzen sail equipped with topsails. Her gross tonnage overall was increased to 149.11 tons.



Her holds, no longer to be used for cargo, were transformed into cabins for up to 24 passengers. A total of eight luxurious two-passenger and two four-passenger cabins were installed as well as a new galley and a full bar, and for the first time, air conditioning. The ship, after completing her transformation back into a sailing ship, was christened Sint Chrisstoffel (St Christopher) after the patron saint for seafarers.

Dr. Sicco Mansholt, former President of the European Commission (the executive branch of the European Union) himself christened the ship. It set sail for the Caribbean under the command of 24-year-old Dutch Captain Jan Fred van den Heuvel from Den Bosch and a five-man crew consisting of a helmsman, machinist, 2 cooks and a deckhand in November 1980.

Before sailing Bakker said in an interview when asked about his hopes for success with the ship in the Caribbean, “There is always plenty of wind, there is sunshine and it has a warm climate. Sun, beaches and palm trees, my love, what more do you want?”

Trouble in paradise

St Christopher at less than half rig

St Christopher at less than half rig

When the Sint Chrisstoffel found her way across the Atlantic to the warm Caribbean island of St Maartin and a busy schedule. The ship’s owner A.P. Baaker intended to sail her with up to 24 passengers for an average fee of $400 per berth on one-week cruises. The large ship, with a hand-cranked windlass and the original 1930’s power plant required a crew of a dozen experienced sailors to man her but with the small 6-man crew embarked it was instead planned to have the passengers sign on for “working cruises” where each would be expected to work so many hours per day while on their week-long sail to keep the vessel moving.

Within a year the ship, undermanned and with a less than ideal sailing rig, soon found herself in trouble. She grounded on Great Bay Beach off St Maartin’s southeast coast under unknown circumstances.

St Maartin Ministry of Shipping director Mike Staam remembers the incident well. “They couldn’t get the ship off and started selling beer to onlookers. It was so successful that they rented a cottage across from the ship and started a little bar called ‘Het Anker Bar’ (The Anchor Bar).”

By 1984, the ship had been pulled off the beach but was non-functional and was impounded at harbor for back slip fees. She was officially de-classsed by Bureau Veritas at about this time.

In December 1984, Oklahoma City jeweler Darold Lerch (incorporated as Caribbean Cruising Co.), purchased the unlucky St Christopher at public auction for $45,000 USD at the famous Bobby’s Marina on St Maartin. The ship was in, ‘floating condition but not much more.”

Lerch sailed her with a scratch crew to Venezuela where the ship’s hull was scraped for the first time since leaving Holland. From there he sailed the ship to Jamaica where a holding tank ruptured and the Caymans where the ship lost an anchor.

Lerch, interviewed in 2010 complained about her initial sea keeping abilities while rigged “She was always breaking anchor…She was beautiful but sailed horribly. You had to keep her 100-degrees off wind and for every mile you gained forward she would drift two sideways”.

In 1985, Lerch found out just how the St Christopher would sail in a hurricane.

Hurricane Elena

St Christopher hard aground 1985. Photo by Frank McBoom

St Christopher hard aground 1985. Photo by Frank McBoom

On Labor Day weekend, 1985, Hurricane Elena’s winds forced the St Christopher ashore on Ft Desoto’s North Beach near Tampa Florida in Pinellas County. The ship had been forced from her Bayboro Harbor moorings near the Salvador Dali museum in St Petersburg at the last moment before the storm. Her 24-yer old South African master, Michael J Matter, had unsuccessfully fought against 40-50 knot winds and flood surge tides more than six feet above normal to keep her at sea. For the next nine months, the white-hulled schooner sat impaled on a sandbar –and luckily just out of the jurisdiction of just about any state or local organization.

The ship’s owner, Darold Lerch, drained his bank accounts attempting to free the vessel before he was approached by a group of investors including Cliff Henderson and Jerry Cross to buy the vessel and turn her into a cruise ship in Cancun. The group of investors incorporated under the name “Tall Ship St Christopher” then later “Blue Water Cruising” and managed to finally free her in May 1986. This was not before one of the investors, ironically a German, drowned in an attempt to free the vessel during Tropical Storm Juan.

Signboard at the Schooner's site 1985

Signboard at the Schooner’s site 1985

She was taken to Pensacola and there refitted with both new sails and rigging and rewired. From there the schooner sailed to New Iberia Louisiana where her original 1932 DeutschWekeKeil engine (remarkably similar to the same model used by Nazi Seehund type midget submarines) was replaced by two new Detroit Diesel M671 engines. Remembering how badly the ship sailed when he first obtained her Lerch and his partners installed a new generator, bow thruster with a 14” bronze prop, new hydraulics and a new hydraulic windlass. For the first time since Roosevelt was president, the St Christopher could raise her sails without the manual labor of a dozen men.

She was reflagged with a British ensign and a Cayman port of registry, number 710614, call sign ZHEP8. Her name was Anglicized from the Dutch Sint Chrisstoffel to St. Christopher of the Caymans to reflect her new flag.

In an interview in 1989, Lerch said of the St Christopher’s time in Florida, “She’s a beautiful old ship. With 10 years ahead of it as a charter ship out of Cancun, it is unlikely the St. Christopher will return to the bay area anytime soon. We’ve had our ups and downs here. Now it’s time to move on.”

Cancun and more misadventures

After spending three months and some $150,000 to modernize and refit the St Christopher, the ship set sail for Cancun in November 1989. The original plan was for the ship to take up to 60 tourist passengers on short 2-3 hour cruises in local waters for $30 a head. With morning, afternoon and moonlight cruises envisioned, investors planned to run her on as many as three cruises per day. The main impediment to the plan was a number of complaints and lawsuits from local vendors who brought pressure on Mexican agencies that withheld granting permits and licenses. At one point, with all of the paperwork seemingly squared away and passengers accommodated for two months, Mexican officials threatened arrest of the crew and owners for flying the Mexican flag illegally and shut the operation down.

Indeed the 1991 edition of Lloyds Register lists the St Christopher (with no Caymans reference), Registry number 5145984, Call sign PGXY. Still flagged in Phillipsburg, Netherlands Antilles. In 1992, she was dropped from Lloyds Register altogether as “continued existence in doubt.” In newspaper articles of the time, she was referred to as registered in the Cayman Islands although the Caymans had deleted her from their registry in November 1988 as her holding company had struck.

With the ship costing some $3,000 per day between the expenses of her 13-man crew’s wages, dock fees, chandler costs et al to operate in the tourist hotspot and no income flowing back in, the program seemed doomed. Eventually the St Christopher was prevented by the local harbormaster from even leaving port due to the amount of dock fees assessed against the craft. Finally in 1993 one of the more colorful ship owners bribed a harbormaster with a pair of 50-peso gold pieces (worth about $2,000 in gold) to be able to leave port in the dead of night never to return. To this day, the ship owner in question is still known to wear a pirate hat to social events occasionally.

St Christopher of the Caymans at Fletchas shipyard before Hurricane Katrina

St Christopher of the Caymans at Fletchas shipyard before Hurricane Katrina

The Ghost of the Mary Walker Bayou

After plying Europe as a coaster, evading Allied bombers in World War 2, surviving hurricanes, carrying passengers in the Caribbean, and escaping from Mexican harbormasters, the St Christopher of the Caymans found herself at Fletchas shipyard in Pascagoula Mississippi during the summer of 1998. Her interior spaces were gutted in preparation for the installation of new living quarters. The plan was for her to be refitted for use as a high-end private yacht when Hurricane Georges struck the coastal community.

The eye of the storm passed over Belle Fountaine Beach on September 28 1998, less than ten miles from Pascagoula. The storm brought gusts of up to 125-mph winds, 16-inches of rain and a 12-foot storm surge into the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Breaking from her moorings, the ship drifted across the Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge and came to rest 7-miles away deep inside the swamps of the Pascagoula River’s Mary Walker Bayou in Gautier, Mississippi.

St Christopher in the trees. USCH photo

St Christopher in the trees. USCG photo

The ship was high and, during low tide, dry, in the muddy snake-infested swamp grass but she was worse for wear above decks. She had lost most of her high rigging in the storm and water had entered the ship. Water-borne looters soon found her and her antique portholes and prop were removed. Uninsured and reluctant to salvage her, owners sold the ship to Bryan Leveritt, a 49-year old former chemist and insurance salesman from Creola Alabama for $10. Leveritt formed an LLC, St Christopher Services to salvage the vessel for use as a floating missionary ship.

St Christopher in the bayou after Katrina, Photo by Bryan Leverette

St Christopher in the bayou after Katrina, Photo by Bryan Leverette

In 1999, the St Christopher organization applied for a canal to be dug 530 feet long, 24 feet wide and 6 feet deep to accommodate the keel and remove the vessel. The permit expired July 26, 2002 but the organization, unable to raise enough funds for her salvage, asked for a series of extensions through 2005. The organizations, with volunteer labor had worked through tornadoes, looters, hordes of yellow flies, conspiratory clouds of mosquitoes, alligators, and coyotes to enable the ship to be recovered. They were literally within feet of completing the canal and removing the ship from the swamp when Hurricane Katrina swept into the Bayou.

Hurricane Katrina brought devastation and destruction on a near-biblical level to the Gulf Coast in August 2005. Storm surge in excess of twenty feet lifted the St Christopher from her muddy home in the swamp and pushed her another fifty yards deeper into the woods. Worst of all, when she was cast like a toy into the thick pine and oak forests, her hull was holed and crumpled in several places and her masts destroyed.

St. Christopher 2012, Photo by Christopher Eger

St. Christopher 2012, Photo by Christopher Eger

Not likely going to spark up any time soon

Not likely going to spark up any time soon

Note the old school rivets showing pre-WWII construction methods. The ship has been beset over the past two decades by illegal scrappers.Photo by Chris Eger

Note the old school rivets showing pre-WWII construction methods. The ship has been beset over the past two decades by illegal scrappers.Photo by Chris Eger

In her 1932-era riveted hold. Photo by Christopher Eger

In her 1932-era riveted hold. Photo by Christopher Eger

Reluctant to let the ship go, Leveritt and his volunteer organization came up with a new plan to continue the canal, lift the battered St Christopher on a barge and float her to a shipyard in Bayou La Batre Alabama for repair. Again, the Mississippi Commission on Marine Resources (MCMR), who had allowed so many extensions in the past for the canal dredging permits, extended it once more due to the new problems. Again, the ship neared removal from her new home in the swamp. Again, events overtook her, as the Deep-water Horizon oil spill hit the Gulf Coast in April 2010.

Photo by Christopher Eger

Photo by Christopher Eger

The Deepwater Horizon spill, maintains Leveritt, pulled the barge he had lined up to carry the ship out of the bayou just days before the ship was ready to move and the resulting cleanup stripped the organization of volunteers and equipment. The MCMR, its patience worn thin from a dozen years of extensions, refused to extend the permits any longer. The MCMR turned the matter of the canal dug in the coastal wetlands to the State Attorney General who in July 2010 began fining Leveritt $500 per day until the canal is filled and the wetlands restored. Leveritt, now 63, remains determined to free the ship that has been landlocked for 16 years.

The St Christopher of the Caymans, a survivor of 81-years, a world war, three hurricanes and the largest oil spill in US History, still rests today near Gautier, Mississippi and is commonly referred to by local fishermen as the “Ghost of the Mary Walker Bayou.” Whether or not she ever stakes to sea again, is not certain by any means.

Through her missing port holes. Photo by Christopher Eger

Through her missing port holes. Photo by Christopher Eger

Fate of her sister ships

The St Christopher’s two sister ships who had been ordered at the same time and built in the same yard in Holland both had interesting post-war histories. The Allegro, sank by Allied bombers in a French harbor in 1944 was raised and used to some extent until 1970 when she was broken up by Captain Joachim Kaiser.

Undine at sea, St Christopher's sistership still afloat

Undine at sea, St Christopher’s sistership still afloat

Captain Kaiser also found himself with the other sister Franziska in 1980. The Franziska had been through no less than five owners, and like the St Christopher had been de-masted and used as a tramp steamer. Listed in Chapman’s , Kaiser shortened the vessel to nearly her original dimensions as a two-masted schooner and since 1999; the ship has sailed for the Gangway Foundation in Hamburg as a traditional sail training and cargo ship under the name Undine.



Displacement: 121 tons gross 240 full load
Length: 88.5 feet waterline, 145 feet oal in final scheme
Beam: 19.1 feet
Draft: 7.3 feet
Rig: Twin-masted schooner, 9 sails
Engine (as built) German DeutschWekeKeil 74kw Type M42 two cylinder, forced air, four stroke, single acting engine, 22 nominal horsepower and 100shp, one shaft, after 1986 Detroit Diesel M671.
Speed: 6-knots on diesel, faster likely under sail
Armament: machine guns and small arms during WWII German Naval service.
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The Lost Cruise Ship

One of the most haunting photo ops in the world is the old German-built cruiseship MS World Discoverer. Built in 1974 for BEWA Cruises of Denmark she was originally to be called the BEWA Discoverer. She was ice-hardened for that survice and had an exceptionally long (8000mile) cruising range on her diesel engines. Well things went sideways for European cruiselines in the late 1970s and by 1976 she was being operated by Adventurer Cruises out of Singapore, flying flags of convience as the MS World Discoverer. Not a huge ship, she was only 287-feet OAL and but 3700-tons.

Roughly the size of a modern naval frigate.


She specialized in Antarctic/Arctic and nature cruises that her slow speed (16-knots) and high crew-to-passenger ration (80 crew to 137 passengers at maximum booking) allowed. It was a niche market, but lets be honest, she was a niche ship.

world discoverer3

Well on Sunday April 30, 2000, at 4 p.m. local time (0500 GMT), the ship struck a large uncharted rock or reef in the Sandfly Passage, Solomon Islands. Her passengers and crew made an orderly getaway with no deaths. However, the local Civil War in the Solomans prevented salvage operations. So she sits today in Roderick Bay on Nggela Island with a 46-degree list. She has been looted thoroughly by locals and passing souvenir hunters over the past dozen years. That, coupled with the fact that she had been too long abandoned, will prevent any future salvage even though the Australian military has since intervened and smothered the war in the Solomans.

But she does still make a great photo op.

world discoverer 1

world discoverer2

Russian Ghost Ship Wanders Atlantic

This bad boy has been adrift since February and is believed (hoped)– sunk somewhere in the Atlantic.

Lyubov Orlova

Here is an old picture of the Lyubov Orlova  as she sat  in Neko Harbor, Antarctica around 2000.

This 4300-ton (GT) Yugoslavian made cruise ship is something of a Flying Dutchman these days on the Atlantic. Named after the first recognized star of Soviet cinema, famous theater actress and a gifted singer, she was built-in 1975 for the Cold War Soviet Far East Shipping Company based in Vladivostok. After the fall of the Soviet Union she continued taking tourists on cruises in the polar regions (she had a strengthened hull) until she was sold in 1999. Since then she has been registered in the Cook Islands and has gone downhill. After running aground in 2006 she was by 2012 a derelict in St Johns Newfoundland, with her company in arrears.

Her sister ship, MV Clipper Adventurer, is also known to have a storied reputation. On 27 August 2010, ran aground of a supposedly uncharted rock in the waters of Nunavut’s Coronation Gulf during a cruise. It was later found that the rock was indeed a known hazard and had already been properly reported by the Canadian Hydrographic Service.

Sold to creditors she was being towed to the Dominican Republic for breaking up, valued at about $800,000 in reclaimable metals…but on 24 January 2013 she broke her tow ropes. After being chased around by her towboat off the coast of Canada and finally regained her. The ship not being worth the money being poured into her recovery, the tow boat cut the line on February 7th in International waters some 250-miles from North America.

Since then Orlova has wandered the Atlantic. Three weeks later a spy satellite from the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, spotted her some 1300 miles off the coast of Ireland. At the end of February she was 700 miles from the coast of Kerry, having traveled halfway across the Atlantic on her own.

The Flying Dutchman is a legendary ghost ship that can never make port, doomed to sail the oceans forever.

The Flying Dutchman is a legendary ghost ship that can never make port, doomed to sail the oceans forever. Perhaps she has a new 

In March her EPIRB went off. Now these distress beacons only sound if they are submerged so the popular thinking is that she went to Davy Jones, but who knows. However there were sightings of her adrift as late as March 12  –– more than a week after her
EPRIB went off, which leads to the speculation that some passing boarder/ghost/rat may have just kicked the beacon over the side. Her last known position was 49°49.12N 36°15.44W where the 37-year old ship was still very much afloat, with no crew, no lights, no nothing.

Current thinking could put her anywhere from arctic Norway to North Africa…..the wordpress

blog where is lova is tracking her as we speak


Tonnage:     4,251 GT
Length:     295 ft (90 m)
Beam:     53 ft (16 m)
Draught:     15 ft (4.6 m)
Ice class:     L3
Installed power: Diesel engines; 5,280 bhp (combined)
Propulsion:     Two shafts
Speed:     11 knots (20 km/h; 13 mph)
Capacity:     110 passengers
Crew:     70 (maximum)

Coast Guard Sinks Ghost Ship

Ryou-Un Maru was a peaceful 164-foot fishing boat in Japan on April 10, 2011. She was old, obsolete, and was tied up waiting to go for the scrapyard and be cut up.

Or so was the plan.

Then on April 11th, the Fukushima earthquake hit and the resulting tsunami swept the ship out to sea. For the past 51 weeks the ship, without a crew, without any power, without any lights, drifted silent and dead across the emptiness of the Northern Pacific Ocean. It continued its trip for more than 4,000 miles, covering an average of 12-miles per day, some days more, some days less. The old girl needed some time alone to herself.

Ryou-Un Maru (USCG photo)
Lonely ghost ship of the Pacific

At the end of March 2012, the USCG and its Canadian counterpart began tracking the ghost ship more than 200 miles offshore of the coast of Alaska. To monitor its position a Coast Guard HC-130 Hercules aircrew from Air Station Kodiak located the ship and dropped a self locating data marker buoy alongside it. Over the past week it drifted about 25-nm per day until finally on April 5 it was some 170nm offshore of Sitka in the Gulf of Alaska. A 62-foot Canadian trawler tried to salvage her but didn’t have the brawn to tote the ship back to shore, finders keepers indeed.


The unmanned Japanese fishing vessel Ryou-un Maru dirfts northwest approximately 164 miles southwest of Baranof Island April 4, 2012. (USCG photo)

Early Coast Guard cutters in the time before the 1920s were often classified as ‘derelict destroyers’. For this mission, which consisted of sinking ghost ships and partially submerged wrecks, they were given small 6pdr cannon and lots of ammunition.

USCGC Anacapa, by flickr user gilfoto

Meet today’s modern derelict destroyer, the 110-foot Island class patrol boat USCGC Anacapa  homeported in Petersburg, Alaska. Assigned to Sector Juneau the Anacapa sank the wayward Ryou-Un Maru today with naval gunfire in deep water. Her weapon of choice, the Mk38 25mm cannon on her forward deck like a hood ornament (its under the blue cover)

Always Ready!