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Mystery as empty ‘ghost ship’ drifts into Liverpool Bay

Coastguards were faced with a mystery this week after a yacht drifted into Liverpool Bay from the sea – with no one on board.

The unnamed vessel was first spotted by a confused ship passing in the Irish Sea, at the mouth of the River Mersey, and a Hoylake RNLI lifeboat was dispatched at 4.30am on January 9.

But the crew were shocked to find the yacht both empty of people and completely undamaged, echoing the infamous story of Mary Celeste, who was found drifting off the Azores Islands, in 1872.

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Picture: RNLI Mysterious yacht drifts into Liverpool

Coastguards were baffled when they discovered the yacht was unmanned (Picture: RNLI)

Fortunately this time, modern technology was able to provide some answers to the mystery.

Coastguards discovered the yacht had been moored just over 37 miles away in Barrow and had been reported missing the previous day after she seeming broke free of her moorings.

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Lifeboat officials have since hailed the vessel’s solo journey a miracle.

Hoylake RNLI lifeboat Coxswain Andy Dodd said: ‘Boat moorings can sometimes break in the winter months when the weather is poor.

‘It’s important that boat owners check their moorings regularly and inform the Coastguard in the event that their vessel goes missing.

Picture: RNLI Mysterious yacht drifts into Liverpool

The mysterious yacht drifted into Liverpool Bay this week (Picture: RNLI)

‘Fortunately in this case the yacht was registered and as it had been reported missing.

‘The Coastguard were able to quickly determine that there was no immediate risk to life and inform the owner that the boat was safe.’

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He added: ‘A drifting yacht in a busy commercial channel presents a significant risk to marine traffic so it was vital to secure the vessel quickly.

‘We were pleased that we could return the yacht safely to its owner.’

The Mary Celeste was an American merchant ship found adrift and without her crew in the Atlantic Ocean, off the Azores Islands, in 1872.

UNSPECIFIED - CIRCA 2003: Brigantine the Mary Celeste, commanded by Benjamin Briggs, found unmanned drifting towards the Strait of Gibraltar in 1872, 19th century. (Photo by DeAgostini/Getty Images)

The captain and crew of the Mary Celeste have never been found (Picture: De Agostini/Getty Images)

Her lifeboat was missing and the last entry in her log was dated ten days earlier, but Captain Benjamin Briggs, his wife Sarah, daughter Sophia, and eight crewmen were never seen or heard from again.

The ship had left New York City for Genoa, in Italy, a month earlier and full of provisions.

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Her cargo of 1,701 barrels of poisonous denatured alcohol was found intact and the captain’s and crew’s personal belongings were undisturbed.

At later court hearings in Gibraltar, foul play, including mutiny by Mary Celeste’s crew, piracy and conspiracy to carry out insurance or salvage fraud were all considered.

But there was no convincing evidence to support many of these theories and the fate of all those on-board remains unknown.

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