List of people who disappeared mysteriously at sea


Throughout history, people have mysteriously disappeared at sea, many while on voyages or traveling via aircraft. The following is a list of known individuals who have mysteriously vanished in open waters, and whose whereabouts remain unknown. In most ocean deaths, bodies are never recovered, but this fact alone does not make their disappearance mysterious. For example, the RMS Titanic was not a mysterious disappearance.

13th century–1969


Date Person(s) Age Missing from Circumstances Ref.
c.1291 Vandino and Ugolino Vivaldi Unknown Atlantic Ocean The Genoese sailor and explorer brothers were lost while attempting the first oceanic journey from Europe to Asia. Their two galleys sailed out of the Mediterranean Sea and into the Atlantic Ocean, but were not heard from again. [1]
14th-century Abu Bakr II unknown Atlantic Ocean The supposed ninth mansa of the Mali Empire who vanished during an expedition to discover the edge of the Atlantic Ocean. While numerous theories exist about his and his crew's fate, including that he had reached the New World, nothing has been confirmed with certainty. [2]
c.1346 Jaume Ferrer unknown Atlantic Ocean Majorcan sailor who sailed down the west coast of Africa in search of the "River of Gold". The results of his quest, including his fate, are unknown. [3]
1499 John Cabot 49 Northwest Passage Cabot, an Italian explorer, disappeared along with his five ships during an expedition to find a western route from Europe to Asia. [4]
1501 Gaspar Corte-Real 51 Northwest Passage Portuguese explorer Gaspar Corte-Real disappeared on an expedition to discover the Northwest Passage from Europe to Asia. Two of his ships returned to Lisbon, but the third, with Gaspar on board, was lost and never heard from again. [5]
1502 Miguel Corte-Real 54 Northwest Passage Corte-Real, a Portuguese explorer, disappeared while searching for his brother Gaspar. Like his brother, he took three ships and, just like his brother, the ship with Miguel on board was lost and never heard from again. [6]
1511 Diego de Nicuesa unknown Caribbean Sea Spanish conquistador and explorer who disappeared along with 17 crewmen while en route to Santo Domingo, after being denied entry to the colonial settlement of Santa María la Antigua del Darién. [7]
1526 Francisco de Hoces Unknown Pacific Ocean De Hoces was the commander of the San Lesmes which was one of the seven ships of the Loaísa expedition under García Jofre de Loaísa. It has been speculated that the San Lesmes, last seen in the Pacific Ocean in late May, may have reached Easter Island, the Polynesian archipelagos or even New Zealand. [8]
1579 Ikegusuku Antō Unknown East China Sea A bureaucrat of Ryukyu Kingdom, Ikegusuku Antō was sent as an envoy to China, but his ship was caught in a storm and disappeared in the sea in 1579 and was never seen again. [9]
1611 Henry Hudson and companions 45–46 Northwest Passage Hudson went on multiple expeditions of present-day Canada and parts of the northeastern United States, searching for the Northwest Passage. In 1611, after wintering on the shore of James Bay, Hudson wanted to press on to the west, but most of his crew mutinied. The mutineers cast Hudson, his teenage son, and seven others adrift; the Hudsons and their companions were never seen again. [10]
1638 Urasoe Chōri Unknown Satsuma Domain A member of Sanshikan, Urasoe Chōri went on a boat trip to Satsuma, but his ship was caught in a storm and disappeared in the sea. He is believed to have drowned. [11]
1671 Roche Braziliano 40–41 Location unknown A Dutch pirate born in the town of Groningen, Roche Braziliano. whose career lasted from 1654 until 1671, disappeared during that year, and was never seen again. [12]
1686 Michel de Grammont 41 Near St. Augustine, Florida, U.S. French privateer renowned for attacking Spanish flagships from 1670 to 1686, who, together with his entire crew, was killed in a storm while on a rescue mission to save fellow buccaneer Nicolas Brigaut. [13]
1750/60 The Sea Bird and its crew unknown Rhode Island The Sea Bird, which also went by other names, was a merchant brig that, after a Honduras voyage and then grounding in Rhode Island at Easton's Beach in either 1750 or 1760, had lost its longboat. No people were found living on it; all that was found was a cat and a dog. The crew aboard was never seen again. The ship itself later disappeared as well and was not seen again . [14][15][16]
1769/70 Henry Vansittart 37 Indian Ocean Vansittart, MP and director of the East India Company, Luke Scrafton and Francis Forde formed a delegation to investigate corruption and reform the British government in India and were last seen embarking at Cape Town en route to India on 27 December 1769. Their ship disappeared with all hands, apparently in a storm, the captain having decided to sail the Mozambique Channel despite adverse weather. [17]
Luke Scrafton unknown
Francis Forde 51
1780 William Palfrey 39 Atlantic Ocean William Palfrey was an American Patriot born in 1741. He went missing after getting lost at sea in December 1780 following a business trip to France. .[18]
1788 Jean-François de Galaup and his expedition 46–47 (Galaup) Botany Bay, Australia The French expedition of Jean-François de Galaup, Comte de Lapérouse disappeared after their last stop at Botany Bay (now Sydney), after meeting ships of Britain's First Fleet bringing convicts to establish the new settlement that became Australia. The wrecks of the expedition's two ships, the Boussole and Astrolabe), were subsequently discovered at Vanikoro, an island in the Santa Cruz group (part of the Solomon Islands) where the survivors may have set up camp. [19][20]
5 February 1803 George Bass 32 Port Jackson, Australia The British explorer of Australia set sail from Sydney for South America and was never heard from again. [21]
March 1809 Hay MacDowall unknown Cape of Good Hope, South Africa Scottish British Army officer who vanished together with the rest of the crew of the Lady Jane Dundas in March 1809, while sailing back home to England. [22]
2–3 January 1813 Theodosia Burr Alston and companions 29 Coast of South Carolina, U.S. The daughter of U.S. Vice President Aaron Burr, and sometimes called the most educated American woman of her day, sailed from Georgetown, South Carolina, aboard the Patriot, which was never seen again. [23]
28 January 1821 Obed Hendricks Unknown Pacific Ocean Sailors on the whaler Essex, which sank in the Pacific on 20 November 1820 after being struck by a sperm whale. Their whaleboat was separated on the open sea from their fellow crewmen on 28 January 1821; it was never seen again. Years later, a boat with three skeletons inside was discovered washed up on Ducie Island, but the skeletons were not identified as being theirs. [24][25]
William Bond Unknown
Joseph West Unknown
1831 Carlo Giuseppe Bertero 42 South Pacific Ocean Italian naturalist and botanist known for documenting the flora and fauna in the West Indies and South America. He was presumably lost after he shipwrecked while on a voyage from Tahiti to Chile. [26]
1841 Tyrone Power 43 Atlantic Ocean Irish actor and comedian who disappeared at sea while travelling aboard the SS President [27]
1845 Franklin's lost expedition 59 (Franklin) Victoria Strait The expedition led by Sir John Franklin, with 129 seamen, made last contact with a whaling ship before entering Victoria Strait in search of the Northwest Passage. The remains of some individuals, written messages and the wrecks of the ships HMS Erebus (in 2014) and HMS Terror (in 2016) were later discovered. However, the majority of the crew, including Franklin himself, were never found with the crew having probably died from a combination of lead poisoning, starvation, and exposure. [28]
1840 The crew of the Rosalie Various Atlantic Ocean The Rosalie, a large French vessel, was found abandoned with sails set and cargo intact. Its crew had vanished. [29]
1849 The crew of the Hermania Various Atlantic Ocean A fishing vessel off the coast of Cornwall in southwest England found the Dutch schooner Hermania drifting. She had been dismasted, evidently by a gale. The fishermen went on board and found that the schooner's lifeboat was still in its chocks. The property of the crew seemed to be intact, but everyone aboard the vessel had vanished. [30]
7 October 1849 Francisque Arban 34 Mediterranean Sea Arban was a French ballonist renowned as the first person to cross the Alps in a balloon. On 7 October, 1849, he took on a flight from Barcelona but was blown over to the Mediterranean Sea, where he disappeared and is thought to have died. [31]
23 January 1856 Bernard O'Reilly 52 Pacific Ocean Irish-born American Catholic priest and the Bishop of Hartford from 1850 until his presumed death in 1856, as the ship he was on board, the SS Pacific, vanished under mysterious circumstances.
4 December 1872 Captain Benjamin Briggs and crew 37 Atlantic Ocean near Azores Briggs, his wife Sarah, their daughter Sophia, and all seven crew members were missing when the Mary Celeste was found adrift in choppy seas some 400 miles (640 km) east of the Azores. Their unexplained disappearances are at the core of "one of the most durable mysteries in nautical history". [33]
Sarah Elizabeth Briggs 31
Sophia Matilda Briggs 2
1880 Lamont Young 28–29 Bermagui, Australia Young, a government geologist inspecting new gold fields on behalf of the New South Wales Mines Department, together with his assistant Max Schneider, boat owner Thomas Towers and two other men disappeared after leaving Bermagui, New South Wales, Australia in a small boat. The nearby location where the abandoned wreck of their boat was discovered was subsequently named Mystery Bay. [34][35]
29 August 1884 Resolven Various Labrador, Canada The merchant ship Resolven was found abandoned off the coast of Labrador on 29 August. A lifeboat was missing and it was assumed that all 11 on board had evacuated in the face of nearby icebergs, but neither they nor the lifeboat were ever found. [36]
12 July 1890 Archduke Johann Salvator of Austria 37 Cape Horn, Chile (presumed) Member of the House of Habsburg-Lorraine who renounced his royal titles and went on to live as a sailor. He and his wife were presumably killed when their ship was sunk during a storm in Cape Horn, but other theories have been proposed that Salvator instead assumed a new identity and lived the rest of his days in South America. [37]
14 November 1909 Joshua Slocum 65 Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, U.S. Slocum, a Canadian-American sailor and first man to sail single-handedly around the world (1895–1898), disappeared after setting sail from Vineyard Haven on Martha's Vineyard alone, bound for South America, aboard the same 36 ft 9 in (11.20 m) sloop Spray he had used for his circumnavigation. [38]
5 June 1911 Édouard Bague 32 Mediterranean Sea Former lieutenant in the Algerian tirailleurs and aviator who disappeared after he attempted to cross the Mediterranean Sea without a compass. Despite several expeditions to locate the plane or Bague's remains, nothing has been seen of him since. [39]
1912 Alexander Kuchin 24 Kara Sea Russian oceanographer and Arctic explorer Kuchin disappeared in 1912 and was never heard from again. [40]
18 April 1912 Damer Leslie Allen 34 Irish Sea Irish-born British aviator. Dissapeared in April 1912 while attempting to fly solo from Holyhead, Wales, to Ireland in a Blériot monoplane. [41]
23 May 1914 Gustav Hamel 24–25 English Channel Hamel, a British aviation pioneer who was most prominent for developing and promoting flying in Hendon Aerodrome, disappeared over the English Channel while flying a new plane. In July, a fishing vessel saw a body floating in the ocean, which, although they didn't retrieve it, believed to be Hamel's. [42]
18/19 August 1914 Albert Johan Petersson 44 Bergen Swedish chemist, engineer and industrialist Albert Petersson disappeared in 1914 in Odda, Norway. [43]
c. November 1918 Arthur Cravan 33 Salina Cruz, Mexico Writer, poet, artist and boxer Arthur Cravan was last seen in Salina Cruz, Mexico in 1918. [44]
26 October 1919 Marie Empress 35 Atlantic Ocean Empress, a British silent film actress, was last seen in Stateroom 480 on the SS Orduña the night before its arrival in New York City. [45]
21 February 1920 Croye Pithey 24 Irish Sea South African flying ace and balloon buster who crashlanded while conducting a ferry operation. Neither his remains or plane were ever recovered. [46]
31 January 1921 Carroll A. Deering Various Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, U.S. The captain and ten crewmen of the schooner Carroll A. Deering were missing when the schooner was found run aground off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, on 31 January 1921. A mutiny was suspected, but the reason for their disappearance has never been established. [47]
26 November 1921 Charles Whittlesey 37 Atlantic Ocean The American soldier and Medal of Honor recipient who led the "Lost Battalion" in World War I was last seen on the evening of 26 November 1921 on a passenger ship bound from New York City to Havana. It is presumed he committed suicide by jumping overboard. [48]
15 November 1924 Artur de Sacadura Cabral 43 English Channel Portuguese aviation pioneer, Artur de Sacadura Cabral, disappeared flying over the English Channel on 24 November and is believed to have died, since parts of the plane were found, although he was not. [49]
c. 8 May 1927 Charles Nungesser 31 Atlantic Ocean Nungesser and Coli disappeared at sea while attempting to make the first non-stop transatlantic flight from Paris to New York. Their plane was last sighted near Ireland, and hasn't been seen since. [50]
François Coli 45
18 August 1927 William Portwood Erwin 28 Pacific Ocean Lt. Erwin was an American flying ace active during World War I, credited with eight aerial victories. He vanished while participating in the Dole Air Race spanning between Oakland, California and Hawaii, and is believed to drowned in the ocean. [51]
31 August 1927 Leslie Hamilton unknown Atlantic Ocean Hamilton, a British flying ace credited with six aerial victories, disappeared over the Atlantic Ocean while attempting the first non-stop east-west flight across the Atlantic Ocean. His plane and passengers, Minchin and Princess Anne, were last seen flying over the Atlantic by an oil tanker, and then promptly vanished. [52]
Frederick F. Minchin 37
6 September 1927 Lloyd W. Bertaud 31 Atlantic Ocean Bertaud, an American aviator, disappeared aboard the Old Glory together with pilot James DeWitt Hill and passenger Phillip Payne. One of the plane's wings was later found off the coast of Cape Race, but no sign of the crew was found. [53]
23 December 1927 Oskar Omdal 31 Atlantic Ocean Omdal was a Norwegian pilot serving in the Royal Norwegian Navy. In December 1927, together with Frances Wilson Grayson, Brice Goldsborough and Frank Koehler, took off from Curtiss Field in order to set the record for the first woman to cross the Atlantic, but the plane disappeared at sea. No trace of either the plane or the crew has been found since. [54]
10 January 1928 John Moncrieff 34 Tasman Sea The pair of New Zealanders were the first to attempt the Trans-Tasman flight from New Zealand to nearby Australia. After their departure from Sydney, neither the pilots or the aircraft were ever seen again. [55]
George Hood 37
13 March 1928 Walter G. R. Hinchliffe 34 Atlantic Ocean Hinchliffe, a decorated flying ace, and Mackay, an actress and aviation pioneer, attempted to cross the Atlantic Ocean in a bid for Mackay to become the first woman to have succeeded in the Transatlantic flight. The plane was last seen near the west of Cork, Ireland, but nothing of it has been seen since. [56]
Elsie Mackay 35
18 June 1928 Roald Amundsen 55 Barents Sea Amundsen disappeared with Guilbaud and four other crew members on 18 June 1928 while flying on a rescue mission in the Arctic, over the Barents Sea. The search for Amundsen and his team was called off in September 1928 by the Norwegian Government. No bodies were ever found. [57]
René Guilbaud 37
3 December 1934 Charles Ulm 36 Atlantic Ocean Ulm was an Australian aviator who, together with Sir Charles Kingsford Smith, was the founder of the Australian National Airways. In December 1934, he, his copilot and his navigator disappeared in the Atlantic Ocean during a test flight from Oakland, California to Hawaii. [58]
8 November 1935 Charles Kingsford Smith 38 Andaman Sea Australian pioneer aviator Charles Kingsford Smith and co-pilot Tommy Pethybridge disappeared during an overnight flight from Allahabad, India, to Singapore while attempting to break the England–Australia speed record. Eighteen months later, Burmese fishermen found an undercarriage leg and wheel (with its tire still inflated) on the shoreline of Aye Island in the Andaman Sea, 3 km (2 mi) off the southeast coastline of Burma, which Lockheed confirmed to be from their Lockheed Altair, the Lady Southern Cross. Botanists who examined the weeds clinging to it estimated that the aircraft itself lies not far from the island at a depth of approximately 15 fathoms (90 ft; 27 m). A filmmaker claimed to have located Lady Southern Cross on the seabed in February 2009. [59][60]
Tommy Pethybridge Unknown
October 1936 Brian Abbot, and Leslie Hay-Simpson 24–25 and unknown Sydney Brian Abbot was the stage name of Australian actor "George Rikard Bell", who along with his sidekick and fellow actor Leslie Hay-Simpson mysteriously disappeared while at sea in Sydney in October 1936; they were never seen again despite a week long search having taken place to find them. A significant number of boats have disappeared around the same area where Abbot and Hay-Simpson disappeared. A boat with five men from Sydney also mysteriously vanished a few weeks after the disappearance of Abbot and Leslie Hay-Simpson and was also never seen again neither. [61][62][63]
2 July 1937 Amelia Earhart 39 Pacific Ocean near Howland Island American aviator Amelia Earhart was the first woman to try a circumnavigational flight of the globe. During the attempt, she and her navigator, Fred Noonan, disappeared over the central Pacific in the vicinity of Howland Island on 2 July 1937. [64]
Fred Noonan 44
13 August 1937 Sigizmund Levanevsky 35 Arctic Ocean Levanevsky, a Soviet aviator, with his crew of five and their Bolkhovitinov DB-A aircraft disappeared in the vicinity of the North Pole on the Arctic Ocean. They had reported a loss of power from one of their four Mikulin AM-34 engines while attempting to prove a transpolar route between Asia and North America commercially viable. [65]
10 January 1938 Jimmy Hampson 31 Fleetwood, England James Hampson was an English professional footballer who spent eleven seasons at Blackpool. He went missing after a fishing trip near the Fleetwood coast went horribly wrong. .[66]
25 March 1938 Ettore Majorana 32 Tyrrhenian Sea An Italian physicist, Majorana disappeared in unknown circumstances during a boat trip from Palermo to Naples on 25 March 1938. There is some evidence that he was alive in South America in 1959 and that his disappearance was voluntary. [67]
20 March 1939 William Snodgrass 68–69 Cook Strait Snodgrass, a New Zealand politician, disappeared from the interisland ferry Arahura while travelling overnight from Wellington to Nelson on 20 March 1939. [68]
24 March 1939 Richard Halliburton 39 Pacific Ocean Halliburton vanished while attempting to sail the Sea Dragon, a Chinese junk, across the Pacific Ocean, accompanied by photojournalist Paul Mooney. In 1945, wreckage identified as a rudder, and believed to belong to the Sea Dragon, washed ashore in San Diego. .[69]
Paul Mooney 34
3 September 1940 Elroy Guckert 40 Location unknown An American football and basketball coach who is said to have died in 1940 when he disappeared from a ship but his body was never recovered and he was never seen, so his fate remains unknown. [70]
5 January 1941 Amy Johnson 37 Thames Estuary, England An English pioneer pilot who was the first woman to fly solo from London to Australia, Johnson is believed to have crashed into the sea after being blown off course due to bad weather. [71]
30 May 1942 Boris Safonov 26 Barents Sea Boris Safonov was a Soviet Naval Aviation fighter ace who had received the 'Hero of the Soviet Union' title twice. He crashed into the Barents Sea in 1942. .[72]
August 1942 Jose Gozar 23–24 Tanon Strait, Philippines Filipino military aviator and flight officer of the Army Air Corps who was presumably lost at sea with another officer while attempting to reach Mindoro until unfavorable weather conditions. [73]
16 August 1942 Lt. Ernest Cody 27 San Francisco Bay, California, U.S. U.S. Navy blimp L-8 drifted inland from its route doing antisubmarine patrol off the coast of California near San Francisco several hours after its crew, Lt. Ernest Cody and Ens. Charles Adams, radioed in that they were going to take a closer look at an oil slick. When the ship eventually crashed in Daly City, neither man was aboard. A massive search failed to find any trace of them; they were both declared dead a year later. [74]
Ens. Charles Adams 38
20 August 1943 Robert Bartels 32 Indian Ocean German U-boat commander who was killed in a battle during which his U-197 was sunk by British forces, killing him and his crew. No bodies were ever recovered. [75]
26 July 1944 USS Robalo crewmen Various South China Sea Although the U.S. Navy claimed the submarine USS Robalo was lost with all hands after failing to report while on a July 1944 patrol in the Philippines, Lt. Cmdr. Manning Kimmel (31) and three other crewmen are known to have survived. A note recovered by an Army prisoner of war claimed the four had been arrested as spies after reaching Palawan Island following the Robalo's 26 July collision with a Japanese mine just offshore. Another witness account says they were massacred following an air raid later that year but Japanese records do not indicate they were being held at the camp in question at that time. It is believed that they were killed in captivity, but officially their fate is still unknown. [76]
26 July 1944 Leon Vance 27 Atlantic Ocean Vance was a decorated veteran of World War II, serving in the United States Army Air Forces. He, and all aboard a C-54 Skymaster, disappeared while travelling across the Atlantic Ocean from England to the United States. This aircraft is believed to have crashed somewhere between Iceland and Newfoundland [77]
31 July 1944 Antoine de Saint-Exupéry 44 Mediterranean Sea French author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, who disappeared over the Mediterranean on a reconnaissance mission during July 1944, is believed to have died at that time. In August, an unidentifiable body, wearing a French uniform, was found in the sea near Carqueiranne and was buried there. In 2000, the wreckage of the aircraft flown by Saint-Exupéry was found on the seabed near Marseille. [78]
22 November 1944 Johan Pitka 72 Baltic Sea Estonian navy commander and prominent fighter in the Estonian War of Independence. In 1944, he returned to his country from his exile in Finland to fight against the Soviet occupying forces, but is thought to have been killed in action. [79]
15 December 1944 Glenn Miller 40 English Channel An American big band leader and recording artist, Miller disappeared on the night of 15 December 1944 in a US Army UC-64 Norseman aircraft that vanished over the English Channel while en route from UK to Paris, France. Miller was on the flight to make arrangements for his band to entertain Allied servicemen. [80][81]
30 January 1948 Sir Arthur Coningham 53 Bermuda Triangle A retired RAF Air Marshal, Sir Arthur Coningham disappeared when an Avro Tudor IV G-AHNP Star Tiger went missing over the western Atlantic.[82] He was one of 25 passengers, together with six crewmen, who were lost when the flight from Santa Maria Airport in the Azores failed to reach its destination of Kindley Field, Bermuda. Star Tiger's sister aircraft G-AGRE Star Ariel also disappeared over the western Atlantic, with the loss of all seven crewmen and 13 passengers, while flying from Bermuda to Kingston Airport, Jamaica, the following year. [83][84]
8 June, 1952 David Atcherley 48 Mediterranean Sea A decorated Royal Air Force officer, Atcherly was lost at sea while on a 40-minute flight from Egypt to Nicosia, Cyprus. Despite extensive searches from British, Israeli, Turkish and American aircraft, neither he or his plane have ever been located. [85]
7 February 1953 Holchu's 5 crew members Various Indian Ocean The Holchu, a small cargo ship, was sighted adrift in the Indian Ocean on 7 February 1953, around 200 miles (320 km) south of the Nicobar Islands, by HMT Empire Windrush. She was later boarded by the crew of a British cargo ship, alerted by Windrush's radio warning. They found no trace of the crew and the Holchu was towed to Colombo. Holchu was carrying a cargo of rice and was in good condition, aside from a broken mast. Adequate supplies of food, water and fuel were found, and a meal had been prepared in the ship's galley. The fate of the Holchu's crew remains unknown. [86]
10 November 1955 Joyita Various South Pacific Ocean On 10 November, the 69-foot (21 m) merchant vessel Joyita was found abandoned, partially submerged and listing heavily to port, north of the Pacific island of Vanua Levu, part of Fiji. No sign of the 25 passengers and crew who had been aboard when it was last seen on its departure from Apia, Samoa five weeks earlier. An extensive investigation has failed to find any trace of the passengers or crew. [87]
10 March 1956 Robert H. Hodgin 31 Mediterranean Sea Three United States Air Force airmen, commander Captain Robert H. Hodgin, observer Captain Gordon M. Insley and pilot 2nd Lt. Ronald L. Kurtz disappeared when their B-47 failed to make contact with an aerial refueling tanker at 14,000 ft over the Mediterranean Sea. While the unarmed aircraft was transporting two different capsules of nuclear weapons material in carrying cases, a nuclear detonation was not possible. [88][89]
Gordon M. Insley 32
Ronald L. Kurtz 22
29 April 1956 Lionel "Buster" Crabb 46 Portsmouth Harbour Crabb, a retired British Royal Navy frogman, disappeared during an MI6 mission to spy on the Soviet Sverdlov class cruiser Ordzhonikidze. The coroner concluded that a body (missing its head and hands) in a frogman suit found floating in Chichester Harbour the following year was Crabb's but a positive identification was never made nor cause of death determined. [90]
July 1958 Lynne C. Quiggle 52 North Pacific Ocean American rear admiral serving in the Navy who disappeared aboard the SS President Cleveland on his way back to California from a trip to Tokyo. His body was never found, and he is officially listed as "lost at sea" due to unknown circumstances. [91]
28 October 1959 Camilo Cienfuegos 27 Straits of Florida A Cuban revolutionary and friend of Fidel Castro, Camilo Cienfuegos disappeared when his Cessna 310 went missing over the ocean during a night flight from Camagüey to Havana. [92]
9 September 1961 David Kenyon Webster 39 Pacific Ocean near Santa Monica, California, U.S. Webster was a journalist for the Los Angeles Daily News, The Saturday Evening Post and a World War II veteran with "Easy" Company of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division (the subject of the book and miniseries Band of Brothers). He went out on a boat near the coast of Santa Monica and disappeared while shark fishing; he is presumed to have drowned. [93]
11–12 June 1962 John Anglin, Clarence Anglin, Frank Morris 36; 32; 31 Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary, San Francisco Bay, San Francisco, CA The three Alcatraz inmates carefully planned arguably the most well-known Alcatraz escape attempt. A fourth conspirator, Allen West, was unsuccessful in his attempt, and returned to Alcatraz. The FBI officially concluded that the men drowned in the frigid waters during the escape, but no trace of the men have ever been found. Some unconfirmed citings have been noted over the years since.
16 June 1962 Private Colin Luke 21 Gibraltar/Straits of Gibraltar A soldier in the 1st Battalion, Somerset and Cornwall Light Infantry Regiment, went missing while attempting to swim alone around the Rock of Gibraltar from Little Bay to Eastern Beach. His clothes were found in Little Bay by Police Constable Conroy. Private Gordon Ashworth was the last person to see Colin Luke at Europa Point Barracks before he disappeared. [94]
11 October 1964 Holly Roth 48 Atlantic Ocean Roth, an American crime novelist, disappeared on 11 October 1964 while sailing on a ketch with her husband 20 miles north of Safi, Morocco. They departed Gibraltar for the Canary Islands on 8 October 1964. Her husband reported her missing about 4 AM while she was on watch, and reported a collision with another vessel. Her body was never recovered. [95][96]
17 January 1967 Audrey Bruce Currier 33 Coast of San Juan, Puerto Rico American heiress Audrey Bruce Currier and her husband Stephen Currier, wealthy philanthropists described as one of the richest young couples in the world, vanished at sea sometime after 7:30 pm on the evening of 17 January 1967, on a routine 76 miles (122 km) charter flight from San Juan, Puerto Rico to St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands. Their plane, a Piper Apache piloted by John D. Watson (52) of Airplane Charters Inc., was last heard from when the pilot radioed at 7:30 pm for permission to overfly the US Naval base at Isla Culebra, which was denied. The plane was never seen or heard from again. Because the pilot had failed to file a flight plan, the search for the plane did not commence until 5 am, 9 hours after it failed to arrive in St. Thomas. Despite an extensive air-sea search by the US Coast Guard, no trace of the plane or its passengers was ever found. Audrey Currier was a granddaughter of the financier Andrew Mellon and the daughter of senior US diplomat David K. E. Bruce, while her husband Stephen was the son of socialite Mary Warburg. The Curriers had for the past ten years provided millions of dollars in financial support to the civil rights movement in the US through the Taconic Foundation and an umbrella group they founded, the Council for United Civil Rights Leadership. [97][98]
Stephen Currier 36
17 December 1967 Harold Holt 59 Cheviot Beach, Australia Holt, the Prime Minister of Australia, disappeared while swimming in heavy surf at a beach notorious for strong and dangerous rip currents. Despite one of the largest search-and-rescue operations ever mounted in Australia, his body was never found. [99][100]
10 July 1969 Donald Crowhurst 36 Atlantic Ocean Crowhurst was a competitor in the Sunday Times Golden Globe single-handed nonstop around the world yacht race. An inexperienced yachtsman, Crowhurst fabricated his progress in the race through fake log entries, the last of which being dated 1 July 1969. His boat was found abandoned on 10 July 1969. [101]

1970–present


Date Person(s) Age Missing from Circumstances Ref.
21 February 1974 Thomas Leigh Gatch, Jr. 48 (95 as of 2021) Atlantic Ocean, near the Canary Islands American balloonist Thomas Gatch disappeared while attempting to become the first human to cross the Atlantic by balloon. A day after lifting off from Harrisburg Airport on 18 February, his balloon named Light Heart lost radio contact. On 21 February, it was sighted by a ship about 1600 km west of the Canary Islands but it has not been seen since. [102]
9 July 1975 Bas Jan Ader 33 (79 as of 2021) Atlantic Ocean Ader, a Dutch conceptual artist, performance artist, photographer and filmmaker, was lost at sea sometime after 9 July 1975 while attempting to cross the Atlantic Ocean from the US to England in the smallest boat ever. His deserted vessel was found off the coast of Ireland on 18 April 1976 but offered few clues as to his fate. [103]
October 1977 Slim Wintermute 60 (104 as of 2021) Portage Bay, Washington, U.S. Wintermute, an American collegiate and professional basketball player, disappeared in October 1977, after setting out in his yacht from Portage Bay. His boat was found a few days later with one of his friends asleep on board; foul play was not suspected. [104]
17 March 1978 Eddie Aikau 31 (74 as of 2021) Hawaii, U.S. Aikau, a Hawaiian lifeguard and surfer, disappeared on 17 March 1978 when he was lost at sea while attempting to reach the island of Lanai on a surfboard. The long-distance Hawaiian outrigger, the Hōkūleʻa, on which he was a crew member, began taking on water 20 miles off Molokai. He was last seen paddling his surfboard towards Lanai to get help. [105][106]
7 July 1979 Ian Mackintosh 40 (82 as of 2021) Gulf of Alaska, U.S. Ian Mackintosh, the creator and writer of The Sandbaggers, a British television series, was flying with two others over the Gulf of Alaska in a light aircraft on 7 July 1979. The plane sent out a distress signal which was picked up by the United States Coast Guard. The plane's last known position was searched, but no wreckage of it was ever found, and its passengers have not been heard from since. [107]
23 December 1979 Jon Mathews 47 Indian Ocean American adventurer and yachtsman whom, together with his wife Jean, attempted to circumnavigate around the world on their vessel, the Drambuie II. While heading towards Durban, South Africa, they sailed into the path of Cyclone Claudette and were presumably killed in the process. [108]
5 August 1980 Alan Addis 19 (60 as of 2021) East Falkland, Falkland Islands The Royal Marine Alan Addis went missing on 5 August 1980. His small unit was on a patrol to North Arm in Lafonia on East Falkland. Addis was last seen at 1:30 am after the marines had attended a local function in the social hall of the remote and small community. He was not missed until the other members of his team had set sail on a steamer to take them back to their base at Port Stanley. The official report assumes he drowned, but investigations and rumours have led to a belief that he was murdered. No body or trace has been found. [109]
October 1980 Angus Primrose 53 (94 as of 2021) South Carolina, U.S. The designer and naval architect Primrose went missing at sea during October 1980 and is presumed to have drowned. [110]
September 1985 Art Scholl 53 California Scholl was an American aerobatic pilot, aerial cameraman, flight instructor and educator based in Riverside, Southern California. He died during the filming of Top Gun when his Pitts S-2 camera plane failed to recover from a spin and plunged into the Pacific Ocean. Scholl had entered the spin intentionally in order to capture it on film using on-board cameras. Observers watched the plane continue to spin as it descended past the planned recovery altitude. The plane impacted the ocean about five miles off the coast, near Carlsbad, California. The exact cause of the crash was never determined. Neither the aircraft nor Scholl's body were ever recovered. [111]
2 August 1987 Clement Howell 52 Nassau, Bahamas Turks and Caicos Islands politician and interim member of the advistory council disappeared together with four other people when their plane supposedly crashed into the sea. Neither the wreckage or the bodies were ever found. [112]
21 May 1995 Larry Hillblom 52 (78 as of 2021) Mariana Islands Hillblom, a co-founder of the DHL Worldwide shipping company, was on board a plane that went down in the Northern Mariana Islands on 21 May 1995. The bodies of the pilot and other passengers were found but no trace of Hillblom has ever been found. His house in Saipan was found to have had areas where DNA might be found washed down with acid and artifacts with DNA traces buried in the backyard in an apparent effort to prevent any possible claimants to his estate from proving Hillblom had been their father. [113]
12 November 1995 Bruno Bréguet 45 (71 as of 2021) Ionian Sea Bréguet, a Swiss-born associate of terrorist Carlos the Jackal, was last seen on a ferry from Italy to Greece 12 November 1995. His family suspected he had been murdered and a body found in Greece might have been his, but authorities remain uncertain. [114]
14 February 1997 Grant Hadwin 47 (71 as of 2021) Hecate Strait, British Columbia Hadwin, an anti-logging activist, went missing 14 February 1997 while traveling by kayak across the Hecate Strait to Graham Island near British Columbia to face criminal charges for cutting down Kiidk'yaas, a rare golden spruce tree revered by the Haida people. The wreckage of his kayak was discovered in June but no trace of Hadwin himself has been found. [115]
25 January 1998 Tom Lonergan 34 (57 as of 2021) Coral Sea, Australia Tom and Eileen Lonergan, a married couple from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, disappeared when they were mistakenly stranded in the Coral Sea after a scuba dive on 25 January 1998. Eileen's father, John Hains, later said that he suspects the couple ultimately became dehydrated and disoriented and in the end succumbed to drowning or sharks. [116][117]
Eileen Lonergan 29 (52 as of 2021)
24 March 1998 Amy Lynn Bradley 23 (47 as of 2021) Curaçao, Antilles Bradley, an American passenger on the Royal Caribbean International cruise ship Rhapsody of the Seas, disappeared while the ship was docking in Curaçao. [118]
3 March 1999 Yves Godard 43 (65 as of 2021) Channel coast, France French physician Godard along with his children Camille and Marius were last seen buying waffles from a street vendor in Bréhec, a small port on the western tip of Brittany. Their rented sailboat was found abandoned in Plouézec the next day. On 7–8 September, blood identified as that of Dr Godard's wife Marie-France was found in their camper van and in the family home. Fragments of the bodies of the three were recovered from the sea bed over the next few years. Godard's wife is still considered missing and the apparent multiple murders are unsolved. The case was officially closed in 2012 with only accidental death eliminated as a possibility. [119]
Marie-France Godard Unknown
Camille Godard 6 (28 as of 2021)
Marius Godard 4 (26 as of 2021)
7 July 2002 Bison Dele 33 (52 as of 2021) Tahiti, French Polynesia Dele, an American professional basketball player, is believed[by whom?] to have been murdered by his brother in the sea near Tahiti, French Polynesia in 2002. .[120]
5 July 2005 George Allen Smith IV 26 (42 as of 2021) Coast of Turkey Smith, an American passenger on Brilliance of the Seas, disappeared from the ship and police suspect homicide. [121]
28 January 2007 Jim Gray 63 (77 as of 2021) San Francisco Bay, California, U.S. Gray, a database pioneer, Microsoft Research scientist and Turing Award winner, left San Francisco Bay in his 12 m (39 ft) sailboat Tenacious to scatter his mother's ashes at the Farallon Islands, a wildlife refuge 43 km (27 mi) away. He was reported missing when he failed to return later the same day. No Mayday call was heard and his EPIRB was not activated. Despite an ambitious search and rescue mission, no trace of Gray or his yacht was ever found. In 2012, he was declared legally dead. [122][123]
February 2007 Andrew McAuley 38 (52 as of 2021) Tasman Sea McAuley, an Australian adventurer best known for mountaineering and sea kayaking in remote parts of the world, is presumed to have died following his disappearance at sea while attempting to kayak 1,600 kilometres (990 mi) across the Tasman Sea. A recovered memory stick on the kayak records him attempting to make a distress call. [124]
20 April 2007 Derek Batten 56 (70 as of 2021) Shute Harbour, Australia Kaz II, a 9.8 m (32 ft) catamaran, was found adrift on 20 April 2007 near Australia's Great Barrier Reef with its three-man crew, owner Derek Batten and brothers Peter and James Tunstead, missing. The yacht's sails were up and its engine was running. The global positioning system showed the yacht had been drifting since around the time of their last known radio contact, about 11 hours after they departed Shute Harbour for Townsville, Queensland, five days earlier. [125]
Peter Tunstead 69 (83 as of 2021)
James Tunstead 63 (77 as of 2021)
9 November 2008 Tai Ching 21 fishing boat crew Various Kiribati The burnt and abandoned wreck of the Tai Ching 21, a Taiwanese fishing boat, was found drifting on 9 November 2008 near Kiribati. It was assumed that when the fire proved beyond their ability to control, the 29-member crew evacuated using the lifeboat and three rafts that were missing. However, no distress call was received and an extensive search of the surrounding seas did not locate any of the crew or the lifeboats. [126]
1 January 2009 Jure Šterk 72 (84 as of 2021) Indian Ocean In December 2007, Slovenian sailor Šterk left Tauranga in New Zealand to sail solo around the world on his yacht Lunatic. His last radio message was heard on 1 January 2009. Lunatic was spotted on 26 January, approximately 1,000 nmi (1,900 km) off the coast of Australia. The boat was damaged and there was no sign of Šterk. Three months later, on 30 April 2009, Lunatic was found adrift by the crew of the science vessel RV Roger Revelle, 500 miles (800 km) south-eastern on position: 32°18′0″S 91°07′0″E. After boarding, it was found that the last log entry was made on 2 January 2009. [127][128][129]
9 November 2009 Hubert Marcoux 68 (80 as of 2021) North Atlantic Ocean Sailing solo on his boat the Mon Pays, Marcoux left the Eastern Passage on 9 November 2009 to voyage from Nova Scotia to Bermuda. When he did not arrive, a search was conducted by Canadian and U.S. aircraft. Members of the Air National Guard later joined the search. Three days were spent scouring the ocean between Virginia and Bermuda. Officials said that he likely encountered a series of storms with wind gusts of more than 110 kilometers an hour and waves measuring 10 meters in height during his trip. [130][131]
22 March 2011 Rebecca Coriam 24 (34 as of 2021) Pacific Ocean near coast of Mexico Coriam, an English crew member aboard the cruise ship Disney Wonder, was last seen when a security camera in the crew lounge recorded her having an upsetting telephone conversation. Some reports suggest she went overboard, but there is other evidence that she may have still been alive the following May. [132]
20 June 2012 Guma Aguiar 35 (44 as of 2021) Fort Lauderdale, Florida, U.S. Aguiar, a Brazilian-born American industrialist and investor in the Beitar Jerusalem Football Club, was reported missing on 20 June 2012 after his unoccupied fishing boat was found on the coast of Fort Lauderdale. He was declared legally dead on 29 January 2015. [133]
4 June 2013 Evi Nemeth and companions 73 (81 as of 2021) Tasman Sea Nemeth, an American computer engineer often described as the matriarch of system administration, disappeared along with several others aboard the yacht Niña that was between New Zealand and Australia on 4 June 2013. No trace of them has ever been found. [134]
2 August 2015 Natalia Molchanova 53 Formentera, Spain Russian champion free diver and multiple record holder who disappeared during a private diving lesson, likely swept away by water currents. Despite efforts from a search party, her body has never been located and Molchanova was declared dead in absentia.[135]
9 September 2018 Daniel Küblböck 33 (36 as of 2021) Labrador Sea The German pop singer jumped off the cruise ship AIDAluna into the sea and disappeared during a cruise from Hamburg to New York on 9 September 2018. Despite an intense search, he was not found, and the search was abandoned after eighty hours, as it was deemed impossible that he could still be alive. [136][137][138]

People who disappeared mysteriously at sea solved cases


Here is a list of people who disappeared mysteriously at sea who reappeared or after disappearing their death became substantiated and ships that mysteriously disappeared either reappeared or were located.

13th century–1969


Date Person(s) Age Missing from Circumstances Ref.
13 June 1943 Nathan Bedford Forrest III 38 Kiel, Nazi Germany Brigadier general of the USAAF who crashlanded in Germany during a bombing raid. His body was found washed up on Ruegen Island several months after he was reported missing. [139]
12 November 1961 Terry Jo Duperrault 11 Bahamas Duperrault was the single survivor of the massacre aboard the Bluebelle, in which her parents and two siblings, as well as the captain's wife, were murdered by the captain, Julian Harvey. She was rescued three-and-a-half-days later by the Captain Theo, and later told what had truly happened on board. Upon learning this, Harvey, who by then had returned to Miami, committed suicide. [140]

1970–2009


Date Person(s) Age Missing from Circumstances Ref.
October 1982 Deborah Scaling Kiley 32 North Carolina coast, U.S. American sailor and businesswoman whose boat, The Trashman, sank due to heavy weather off the coast of North Carolina, with multiple crew members dying. Kiley and the other survivors were rescued by a Soviet cargo ship five days later. [141]
November 1991 Robert Maxwell 68 Canary Islands, Spain Czechoslovak-born British media proprietor, fraudster and suspected spy who disappeared on 4 November 1991 while on board his yacht, the Lady Ghislaine. That same month, his body was found floating in the ocean, having drowned after accidentally falling in the ocean. [142]
4 January 2009 Sonny Fai 20 Te Henga (Bethells Beach), New Zealand Professional rugby player for the New Zealand Warriors who disappeared while trying to save his brother and four cousins from a rip current. While his body was never found, he was declared drowned a few months later. [143]
28 February 2009 Nick Schuyler 17 Off the coast of Clearwater, Florida, U.S. Sole survivor of a boating accident during which his three other companions (NFL players Marquis Cooper, Corey Smith (American football) and Schuyler's best friend William Bleakley) succumbed to hypothermia and their bodies were later lost at sea. Schuyler co-wrote a book about the experience in 2010, titled Not Without Hope. [144]

2010–present


Date Person(s) Age Missing from Circumstances Ref.
29 September 2010 Richard Abruzzo 47 Adriatic Sea American balloonist champion who, together with colleague Carol Rymer Davis, disappeared while competing for the Gordon Bennett Cup due to a thunderstorm. Their bodies were found more than a year later off the Italian coast. [145]
Carol Rymer Davis 65
15 November 2017 ARA San Juan crew Various South Atlantic The ARA San Juan was an Argentine submarine which mysteriously vanished while performing a training exercise. Despite search efforts, assisted by several nations, the fate of the submarine and its crew remained unknown until a year later, when marine robotics company Ocean Infinity discovered the sunken wreck. [146]
2 April 2020 Maeve Kennedy McKean 40 Chesapeake Bay, Maryland, U.S. Public health official and human rights activist who served as the Executive Director of the Global Health Initiatives, who disappeared together with her son while canoeing. Her body was recovered a week later by authorities. [147]

See also


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