The existence of ghost ships missing their crews but otherwise undisturbed has been the subject of interest and debate, inspiring innumerable horror films and novels. I was amazed to discover, however, in an article in The Guardian that these ghost ships are continuing to haunt the sea even into the 21st century.
Perhaps the most famous of ghost ships is the Mary Celeste. On December 5, 1872, the ship was found drifting in the Strait of Gibraltar. The cargo and personal belongings of the passengers were found intact, but none of its passengers was ever found—dead or alive. The last entry in the ship's log was dated 11 days earlier. Researchers discovered that the Mary Celeste had previously been named the Amazon and had been renamed to discourage superstitious talk about the ship being haunted. (The new name doesn't seem to have helped much!)
The merchant vessel Joyita was discovered abandoned in the Pacific in 1955 with no sign of its 25 passengers and crew members. A subsequent inquiry found that the vessel was in a poor state of repair, but determined that the fate of the passengers and crew was "inexplicable on the evidence submitted at the inquiry".
In 2006 the tanker Jian Seng was discovered off the cost of Queensland, Australia. Its crew was missing, and investigators could not determine the origin of the vessel or its owner. A quantity of rice was found on board the vessel, but there was no sign of human activity or indication that the vessel was being used illegally for poaching, carrying drugs, or people smuggling.
In April 2007 the catamaran Kaz II was found near the Great Barrier Reef. Its sails were up, the engine was running, a meal was set to be eaten, life jackets and survival equipment remained on board, but there was no sign of its three-man crew.
In 2008 the Taiwanese fishing boat Tai Ching 21 was found drifting in the Pacific Ocean near Kiribati. There was evidence of a fire aboard the ship, but no mayday call was received, and a search of 21,000 square miles found no trace of the captain or 28 crew members.
Various reasons have been cited for these disappearances, and in some cases the ships have been in obvious distress, and life rafts have been missing. The most intriguing cases are those involving ships like the Mary Celeste in which nothing appears to be out-of-order . . .and yet the ships are devoid of life.
For the full text of The Guardian article reporting on these various disappearances, see http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/shortcuts/2012/mar/26/ghost-ships-oceans-japanese-boat.