Over the years, unsuspecting locals have made their way to the beach for a refreshing jog, a morning swim, or even a dog walk, and come across bizarre items that have been washed in by the tide.
Of course, you’re always going to come across natural ocean debris, and most of us are used to seeing seaweed, driftwood, and even sea creatures laying on the sand. As if that wasn’t enough, boats and ships also find themselves setting up shop on the sand. Most of the time, this is completely by accident. A boat may have suffered an incident while in the middle of the ocean and had to make an emergency dock. A ship may have been caught in the hands of a storm and veered off course.
Alternatively, they could have simply washed ashore for no apparent reason. Although this is not common, these “ghost ships” have bemused onlookers more often than you would believe, and things get even more bizarre when you realize that their crews are nowhere to be found. In fact, that’s exactly what happened when this mysterious ghost ship reappeared after a whopping 9 years of being completely lost at sea and cut off from all contact…
As you make your way to the beach, you might notice that the shore is littered with debris. Much of the time, this is natural debris such as driftwood, seaweed, or even turtle shells and jellyfish.
However, this isn’t always the case. In 2018, a Myanmar beach made headlines across the world when a ship that had first been reported missing a whopping nine years ago turned up out of the blue. Because it had been missing for so long, people presumed that the boat and the crew onboard had perished at sea…
Throughout history, tales from the ocean have made their way back to the shore and allowed us insight into life at sea. Yet, not many of these stories have involved mysterious ghost ships and crews that have simply vanished into thin air. This was the case for this Myanmar ghost ship.
What had happened to the crew? Had they perished at sea and stayed on the boat as spirits? How had the huge ship simply disappeared in the first place? This story was just full of cliffhangers, and people wanted answers.
The ship in question
As those on land saw the huge ship with their own eyes, officials knew that they would have to make their way to the boat to see it for themselves. It was during this expedition that they noted the ship was the Sam Ratulangi PB 1600.
This container ship made its maiden voyage in 2001 and had transported huge amounts of cargo from one side of the world to the other. It sailed tirelessly for eight years before one voyage seemingly became its last. It was then presumed missing for nearly a decade.
Drifting through the ocean
The ship was first spotted by a group of fishermen who were taking their boat through the area of Yangon in Myanmar. When they noticed the ship, they were immediately confused. They could see that it was an old ship, and they also noticed that the exterior had become rusty and worn.
It was unusual to see such a ship in the bustling commercial area of the ocean, and they knew that something wasn’t quite right. Somebody had to go and check out this mysterious ghost ship for themselves.
Searching for something
As news of the unusual ghost ship made the rounds, the Myanmar Navy were soon drafted in to have a proper look at the Sam Ratulangi. They made their way to the ship to take a closer look at the vessel and soon realized that it had almost been completely covered by rust and rot.
However, this wasn’t the only aspect of the ship that left them scratching their heads. There was absolutely no sign of life onboard, and they couldn’t find any clues as to where they may have gone.
The last encounter
Ships are required to log their journeys, but Navy officials were bemused when they noticed the last logged journey for the Sam Ratulangi was eight years before it was found floating aimlessly around Myanmar.
In 2009, the Sam Ratulangi logged its last known location near Taiwan – which was not unusual for the ship. After all, the cargo ship spent most of its time sailing across Asia, and there wasn’t anything fishy about such a location. So, what happened after this? How did the Sam Ratulangi become the ghost ship?
Stuck in the mud
It’s believed that the Sam Ratulangi ran into trouble when it made its way through the Sittaung River. With strong currents and shallow waters, this river is rarely used for trade ships such as the Sam Ratulangi.
Instead, the 260-mile-long river is primarily used by small vessels who wish to transport timber from one side of the country to the other. Because of this, it was highly unusual for a cargo ship as large as the Sam Ratulangi to use the passageway, and it’s believed that it soon got stuck in the mud.
Not the only one
Although the story of the Sam Ratulangi may be incredibly bizarre, it’s not the only ghost ship that has simply turned up unannounced. In 2017, a Japanese local got the fright of their life when they stumbled upon a wooden ship on the beach.
Judging by the state of the boat, it had been floating around the ocean for months and months, but that wasn’t what shocked them the most. Inside the boat were eight decomposed skeletons of North Korean men, who had sadly perished a long time ago.
The Holy Grail
In March 2018, a mother and her son were taking a leisurely stroll along a Florida beach when they noticed something a little out of the ordinary. Blocking their path were planks of wood that seemed to be piled on top of each other.
As they got closer, they noticed that they were, in fact, standing in front of a shipwreck, and they got the relevant officials involved to have a look for themselves. However, this wasn’t just any old ship. This was instead a ship from the 18th-Century!
It seems as though Florida is a breeding ground for ghostly shipwrecks because Melbourne Beach was also spooked by a boat that came ashore in September 2017. However, this shipwreck was a little different to those that we have seen in the past – because there were a few additions to this vessel.
Perched on the boat was a single velvet rose, while a mannequin stood next to it on the sand. This mannequin also featured a plaque that read: “The beatings will continue until morale improves.”
Two at once
As the Myanmar Navy tried to understand the circumstances surrounding the Sam Ratulangi, they soon uncovered a clue that could answer a few of their questions. They looked at the radar and noticed that the Sam Ratulangi was not the only ship traversing the waters when it seemingly disappeared.
Sailing near to the ship was a small tugboat called the Independence – and it was this tugboat that was actually tugging the Sam Ratulangi at the time. The Navy were able to locate the Independence, could those on board shed some light on the ghost ship?
Tracking them down
Amazingly, the Navy were able to find the crew of the Independence, and they immediately asked them to answer a few questions about their encounter with the Sam Ratulangi. It was during this investigation that the Navy heard their story.
The crew of the Independence had indeed been tugging the cargo ship when they encountered bad weather. The two ships became separated during this time, and the Sam Ratulangi was damaged. Because of this, they planned to take the ship to Bangladesh to sell to ship breakers.
The business of it all
It’s no secret that ships can’t last forever, and with an average life expectancy of 25-30 years, older ships are often taken to ship breakers when they reach the end of time. Although their engines and their hull are no longer fit for use, these ships are covered in strong and sturdy material that is also extremely valuable.
It’s the job of these ship breakers to strip the ships of the expensive material and all of the metal onboard. They then sell it for a profit.
When the Sam Ratulangi disappeared off the radar, it seemed as though it was simply floating around the ocean. The crew had disappeared, the cargo had all gone, and there was absolutely no activity. When the Independence came across it, they decided to do something about it.
They wanted to get the ship safely to shore, and they thought they were the right people for the job. However, the bad weather thwarted their plans, and they were forced to abandon it. If the bad weather hadn’t cut them loose, they may have been able to solve the ghost ship puzzle much quicker.
However, as the Navy looked closer at the Sam Ratulangi, they soon noticed that the Independence wasn’t alone in its plights. Officials noticed that another line was attached to the boat – which means that a second tugboat had attempted to take the ship to safety in the past. Once again, this line had come loose and separated the two boats.
It seemed as though the Sam Ratulangi just didn’t want to make it to its final destination, which makes us wonder what happened to the original crew members?
Called in for questioning
Once the Myanmar Navy had managed to track down the elusive crew of the Independence tugboat, they knew that they would be able to shed some light on the ghost ship. The tugboat was on its way to Bangladesh when the Myanmar Navy stopped them in their tracks and asked them to answer a few questions about the Sam Ratulangi.
Could they have been responsible for the fact that the cargo ship was simply floating around the waters of Myanmar? Could they have even been responsible for the missing crew?
A tough job
Because there were no crew members and no cargo on board the ship, the Myanmar Navy knew that they just needed to get the 26,500-ton ship out of the river. They needed to take it to a safe place where it was out of the way, and then they could take a real look at it.
However, there was no guarantee that they would be able to tug the boat out of the riverbed. After all, two boats had already tried and failed on their missions. Would it be stuck there to rot or ultimately sink?
Social media storm
As more and more people around the local area heard stories of the Sam Ratulangi ghost ship, the Myanmar Navy decided to update their social media channels to keep those interested up to date. They posted four photographs on their Facebook page, and they followed these photographs up with a description of the ship.
The post was an immediate hit with those around the world, and everyone wanted to know where the ship had come from and what had happened. After all, it’s not every day you see a ghost ship.
Inside the ship
As the Myanmar Navy made their initial investigations of the ship, they were able to go below deck and check out what was hiding underneath. It was here that they were able to see the engine for the first time.
While it was a little rusty and obviously incredibly old, there didn’t seem to be anything inherently wrong with the engine. If someone wanted a little restoration project, they would be able to restore the engine to its former glory. So, what’s happened to the ship now?
In safe hands
You’ll be happy to know that the Sam Ratulangi is now in safe hands. Until the ship and the circumstances surrounding its disappearance are crystal clear, it is staying the capable protection of the Myanmar Navy.
They are hoping that over the next coming months, they will be able to understand what really went on with the cargo ship. They will be able to answer the questions surrounding the crew, its location, the cargo, and why it was simply left to float for nearly a decade.
The next step
After years adrift at sea, the Sam Ratulangi has finally found somewhere to call home for the next few months. However, what happens after the investigation concludes is still up in the air. There’s little chance that the ship will be repaired and sent back out for action – although that still is an option.
It’s more likely that the ship will be sent to ship breakers nearby to be broken up and sold for scrap. It’s a sad end to the legacy of this ghost ship but is something that happens to countless ships every single year.
The famous ship
Although the story of Sam Ratulangi has shocked and confused people across the world, it’s not the most famous ghost ship to ever come into our lives. No, that privilege goes to a boat by the name of the Flying Dutchman.
The legend of this boat can be traced back to the late 1700s, although it’s believed that the ghostly shell of this ship can still be spotted by innocent fishermen to this day. This cursed ship and its crew has supposedly been in limbo since this time, and has been sailing the seven seas ever since…
The ghosts of North Korea
The legend of the Flying Dutchman is just that; a legend. However, that doesn’t mean such events haven’t happened in real life. In 2017, a very real phenomenon made its way into the world and has continued to plague those involved since then.
In fact, over 110 North Korean boats have found themselves washed ashore or sunk since this time. While they may not be ghost ships, many of the wreckages have been found with bodies of the deceased still on board. The most recent example is particularly gruesome.
A common occurrence
These North Korean ships are finding their wrecked way to the shores of Japan more regularly, and in January 2018, one of these ships was discovered on a Japanese boat.
Although it was only a small boat, it was clear that they had tried to fit as many people as possible into the hull. Those who found the ship were able to confirm that there were seven souls on board, but that none of them had survived the ordeal. As officials took a closer look at the boat, they noticed the badges of the North Korean regime emblazoned on the boat.
A harsh winter
It’s no secret that those in North Korea live very different lives to their neighbors in Japan and South Korea, and it seems as though more and more North Korean fishermen are trying their luck when it comes to their livelihood.
They are pushing their boats even further to take home a large bounty, and some are even attempting to flee the country and find refuge in a neighboring country. However, the harsh winters in North Korea make this a treacherous journey, and many do not survive.
The Tamaya 1 mystery
Many of these ghost ships cannot be traced, and this was also the case for the mysterious Tamaya 1. This oil tanker stood at a whopping 210-feet long, and shocked locals when it found its way onto a beach in Liberia in 2016.
Because it was registered in Panama, officials were confused as to what it was doing on the West African beach. However, what was even more confusing was that there was not a soul on board, and it had been missing for three weeks.
The last leg
As officials tried to understand more about the Tamaya 1, they decide to trace the last leg of its journey to see if it uncovered any clues. They soon noted that the ship had previously been sailing off the coast of Gambia when it had lost contact with those at shore.
From there, the pieces of the puzzle are still waiting to be put together, and officials still do not know how the ship made its way from Gambia to Liberia – potentially without a crew. In fact, they don’t even know how many crew were on the ship to start with.
Behind the times
What made the disappearance of the Tamaya 1 even more bizarre is that it was actually reported missing as soon as it went off the radar and lost contact. However, the local police did not respond to this report straight away. They also didn’t respond to the report of the washed-up ship straight away, either.
They waited a whole three days before making their way to the scene and checking out the ship, and by that point, the ship had been vandalized. They eventually investigated the scene and came up with a few theories.
The real reason
After investigating the ship and the circumstances surrounding the Tamaya 1, officials came to a conclusion that they thought summed up the disappearance and the reappearance of the ship. They believed that the owner of the ship had lost their money while sailing the oceans and was ultimately unable to pay their crew.
Because of this, they decided to quite literally abandon ship and let it simply float away into the abyss. However, this isn’t the only explanation they came up with…
If you have ever seen the movie, Captain Phillips, you’ll know that it depicts a real-life event where the Maersk Alabama was taken over by pirates. Although the idea of pirates normally falls into the fantasy fim category, pirates are a real issue in the world – especially in Africa.
Although Naval groups across the world do everything they can to prevent such things happening, pirates do sometimes succeed in their missions. Because of this, there is a chance that the Tamaya 1 was hijacked by these pirates.