It is a fact that not only ships, but also seafarers and passengers vanish without a trace at sea, be it in the past or in present times. Several examples for this phenomenon are given. A scheme of the ship conditions found after discovering that single persons or even whole crews had disappeared from board is provided as an orientation, before describing in detail the more than 18 reasons for vanishing from ships for good, giving examples where appropriate. These reasons are in their majority logical, but strange and bizarre reasons also exist. Causes may e.g. be the sea state, crimes, suicide, alcohol, piracy. A chapter concerning passengers lost from large modern cruise ships, especially in the Caribbean, follows. Finally, suggestions are made, for instance psychological aptitude tests, as regards how to maybe help decrease the number of disappearing persons, especially young seafarers, from aboard ships on the high seas.
Dr Anthony Low, MD, Hamburg Port Health Centre
Institute of Occupational Health
Seewartenstrasse 10, D-20459 Hambutg, Germany