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    Monday, January 12, 2015

    THE CURSED SHIP OF OCEAN-- IVAN VASSILI

    Ivan Vassili --The Haunted Ship. _______________________________________

    One of the most terrifying andshocking true ghost stories in historytook place on a Russian freighter calledthe Ivan Vassili.The Ivan Vassili was not a typicalcursed orjinxed ship.There wasnothingunusual orspectacular about her. She was built inSt. Petersburg in 1897 to transportfreight across the Baltic Sea to the Gulfof Finland. She was driven by a singletriple-expansion steam engine. Herbunkers carried enough coal to take her2500 miles at a speed of eight knots. Shewas made of riveted iron plates, whileher deck and superstructure werewood. She had a record of reliabilityand stability to the point of beingboring.

    No mishaps took place on herduring the first five years that she pliedthe sea. Then everything changedovernight, and she became a sailor'sworst nightmare of calamity and death.In 1903, when the Russiangovernment prepared for war withJapan, her role changed suddenly. Shewas ordered to carry a cargo of warmaterials to Vladivostok in advance ofthe Russian warships.The steamer cut through the NorthSea, the Atlantic, and south along thewest coast of Africa, coaling inCapetown. Then she moved north alongthe east coast of Africa and Zanzibar,topping off her bunkers and taking onextra sacks of coal for the upcoming legacross the Indian Ocean.Soon the nightmare would begin forthe crew would realize that they'd takenon more than coal.Everything was business as usual asthe ship left the port and took to sea, butthe crew suddenly felt that a presencewas on board. Something just didn'tfeel right. No one knew exactly what thepresence was, but everyone was certainthat some sort of invisible entity wasamong them. When it was near, the menfelt that something was watching them,and they would feel a sudden chill in theair.This went on for a few days beforethe danger of the situation heightenedand the entity began extracting analarming toll on the crew.One night before the change of watch,the men on deck saw the apparition. Itlooked human, but its features wereimpossible to make out. It was misty,glowing, and luminous as it strolledacross the deck and disappeared behinda lifeboat.

    The men were understandablyshocked. Still, nothing remarkablehappened until the ship reached the PortArthur military base in China where thecrew intended to refuel the ship.On the night before the ship enteredport, a crew member suddenly let loosewith a horrifying scream that senteveryone into a panic. The crewliterally went berserk, and a wild meleeensued, the men having no idea whatthey were doing as they beat each otherand themselves. This episode ended withseaman Alec Govinski hurling himselfinto the murky black waves to his death.Afterward, the other men collapsed tothe deck, and everything returned tonormal.The ship resumed its journey toVladivostok, and the crew was relievedwhen nothing unusual happened duringthe first and second day at sea. But thenall hell broke loose again. on the thirdday, the crew went on a screaming,fighting, hysteric rampage. A fewminutes later, they collapsed on the decklike before only to learn that anothershipmate had thrown himself overboardto his death.When the ship finally reachedVladivostok, twelve crew membersabandoned ship.

    They were so afraid ofwhatever was aboard the vessel, thatthey couldn't get away from it fastenough and even attempted to escapebefore the cargo hatches were opened.Unfortunately for them, they werequickly rounded up like cattle andreturned to the vessel where they werekept under armed surveillance.The anxiety on the ship must havebeen high as the cargo was unloaded;nevertheless, the Ivan Vassili was put tosea again on a voyage south to HongKong.In no time, this leg of the trip eruptedinto yet another nightmare. Anotherhysterical frenzy occurred and anothercrew member killed himself. The nextnight, there was a repeat performance,resulting in another crew member'sdeath. During the third episode, a stokerreportedly died of fear.Then, just as the ship reached the portof Hong Kong, Captain Sven Andristflung himself overboard and downed.This time nothing could stop the crewmembers from deserting when the shipdocked. The entire crew, except SecondOfficer Christ Hansen and fiveScandinavian seamen, fled.Either dedicated to duty or unfazedby the tragedies, Hansen, took over asCaptain and hired a new crew for theship, and the steamer set out again, thistime toward Sydney Australia to pick upa cargo of wool.To Hansen's relief, the voyage southwas uneventful--that was until justbefore they reached Sydney. ThenHansen suddenly had an urge to killhimself, took out his revolver, and shothimself to death.In Sydney, even before the dock lineswere secure, the crew startedabandoning the ship--all exceptboatswain Harry Nelson.Nelson set about finding anothercaptain, one who didn't believe in ghostsor superstitions. He found his man, butit took four months to find anothercrew. By then, word had gotten aroundand no sailor in his right mind wantedto sail on the death ship.

    The steamer was put to sea again; itsdestination, San Francisco. The tripwent smoothly until a week later whenthe crew was set into a screaming meleeagain. This time, two seaman wenttotally mad and had to be confinedbelow decks. In the morning, they wereboth found dead.The next day, the new and skepticalcaptain, put a revolver in his mouth andpulled the trigger.Following the latest round of tragedy,the crew, including Nelson, refused tocontinue with the voyage, and theyturned the vessel around with the intentto return to Vladivostok. When the IvanVasilli arrived in the Russian City, theentire crew, including Nelson walked offthe ship.The men were offered rewards,incentives, and all kinds of bonuses forreturning to the ship, but nothing wouldconvince them to get back on the vessel.Not one of them wanted any part of theship. No other sailor did either.Watchmen were unwilling to even getclose to her--much less spend a nightaboard her. And so the diabolical vesselsat in port, abandoned, for many years.Ultimately, the sailors of Vladivostockdecided that fire was the only way todestroy the evil entity that haunted theship, and so in the winter of 1907, on aclear starry night, they sat it aflame. Indozens of small boats, they watched,cheering, as flames devoured the ship.Some even sang as the fiery bridgeengulfed the ship. They cheered itsdemise, toasting the occasion with vodkaas the iron skin buckled. Cast off fromher moorings, she was dragged out to seaby a tugboat.She still smoldered the next day andbegan rolling to starboard until sheflipped over on her side and started toslide beneath the water. Those whowatched swore that before the ship wentunder, an eerie scream emanated fromthe hulk.No one ever knew what or who theevil entity was.

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