Mary Celeste was launched in Nova Scotia in 1860. Her original name was “Amazon”. She was 103 ft overall displacing 280 tons and listed as a half-brig. Over the next 10 years she was involved in several accidents at sea and passed through a number of owners. Eventually she turned up at a New York salvage auction where she was purchased for $3,000. After extensive repairs she was put under American registry and renamed “Mary Celeste”.
The new captain of Mary Celeste was Benjamin Briggs, 37, a master with three previous commands. On November 7, 1872 the ship departed New York with Captain Briggs, his wife, young daughter and a crew of eight. The ship was loaded with 1700 barrels of raw American alcohol bound for Genoa, Italy. The captain, his family and crew were never seen again. The ship was found floating in the middle of the Strait of Gibraltar. There were no signs of struggle on board and all documents except the captain’s log were missing.
In early 1873, it was reported that two lifeboats grounded in Spain, one with a body and an American flag, the other containing five bodies. It has been alleged that these could have been the remains of the crew of the Mary Celeste. However, the bodies were apparently never identified.