MVJoyita – One of the unsolved mysteries of the South Pacific

Featured image

The Pacific, 170,000,000 cubic miles of water. Taking its size into consideration, there is not a single living soul on this earth who knows all of its secrets. The number of mysteries that it holds is all but unknown to us.

One such mystery is about the 16 crew and 9 passengers on board a merchant vessel who puzzlingly disappeared somewhere in the south of the Pacific ocean. Sometime later, MV Joyita was found floating in the water with no particular course, just drifting about. She was is in desperate condition with corrosion trying to eat what little clue there might be left.

The wheelhouse in 1942. Author: Unknown photographer

On board, there was a functional radio yet the wiring of it seemed flawed. The way it was connected, it could only transmit a little over a mile.

The 70 feet long vessel was built to be durable by using cedar and oak wood. She was built in 1931 as a yacht with a certain degree of luxury by Wilmington Boat Works. The first owner of this yacht was Roland West (a famous Hollywood director from the 1920s and 1930s).

He named his boat after his wife Jewel Carmenille or Joyita in Spanish. Five years after its initial construction it was purchased by Milton E. Beacon. “…by April 1936 it was registered in the name of Milton E. Bacon – and the next five years appear to have been the most uneventful and serene of its sometimes unfortunate life” wrote David Wright in his book Joyita: Solving the mystery.

Aerial view of Pearl Harbour. Author: PH2 Thompson, USN

While in Milton’s possession she made a number of journeys to Mexico, captained by Chester Mills. She even traveled to the Golden Gate International Exposition the famous World’s Fair in San Francisco that celebrated the two new bridges.

Once the Second World War had come, Joyita became part of the U.S. Navy and was immediately taken to Pearl Harbor. Here she was assigned as a Yard Patrol craft and was given the name YP-108. Being part of the Navy she patrolled around Hawaii. In 1943, MV Joyita hit a seabed in shallow water and got seriously damaged.

MV Joyita partially submerged. Author: Unknown photographer

The navy, however, took care of her and she was repaired. MV Joyita kept this position in the Navy until the end of the Second World War. In 1946 she was officially released.

It was October 3, 1955, when MV Joyita departed from Apia harbor in Samoa and started her ill-fated journey towards the Tokelau islands, where she was due to collect a cargo of copra. The journey totaled around 270 miles. Due to problems with the clutch she left the harbor running on one engine.

The planned route and the location of Joyita. Author: RicHard-59 CC BY-SA 3.0

The journey itself was supposed to take about 48 hours. On October 6 the port of Fakaofo reported that the ship was late. The operator of the port reported that a distress call never came.

Map of the Tokelau Islands. Author: Aotearoa CC BY-SA 3.0

This meant that a rescue party should be released to search for the ship. They searched for six days and covered around 100,000 square miles. But to no avail, MV Joyita remained lost.

On November 10, the merchant ship Tuvalu spotted Joyita partially submerged, drifting on the water more than 600 miles off of her original course.

MV Joyita partially submerged. Author: Unknown photographer

What the investigators found was an empty ship, no crew and tons of its cargo missing. The radio was jammed at 2182 kHz (a distress frequency). There were tons of clues on the ship that seemingly made no sense. For example, the firearms were missing, there were bloody bandages and a scalpel, the logbook was missing, the clocks were stuck at 10:25, the engine was covered with mattresses, the lifeboats were also missing and she was still filled with fuel.

Bert Hodgkinson the doctor on board. Author: Unknown photographer

Since then, she has been a topic for numerous books, documentaries and conspiracies. Hypotheses range from logical to paranormal and supernatural. Whatever happened to the crew of MV Joyita remains a mystery to this day. Over the years she was given the sobriquet of Mary Celeste – another ghost ship of the 19th century.

Other articles you may find interesting