I find the image of the “ghost ship” an irresistible one, whichever type of ghost ship we’re talking about, either the literal or the figurative. The literal is an actual ghost, where the craft itself is something spiritual or phantasmagorical in nature, and may or may not be crewed by ghost sailors. The ship in John Carpenter’s THE FOG is a perfect example, or the FLYING DUTCHMAN of legend. Then there are the metaphorical ghost ships; the ships are physical, but they have been left abandoned, floating without a sign of life onboard, a “ghost” of the seas. The SAM RATULANGI PB 1600 (not the most imposing name for a ghost ship, we must admit) belongs to the latter category. It is also larger than most, at 580 feet long. This certainly qualifies it to be called a “ship.”
The ships that keep showing up in Japanese waters are not totally abandoned. They are full of dead bodies. The Tojinbo Cliffs area, like the infamous Suicide Forest, is a hotbed for people who want to do themselves in, but the area has also become known for the number of ghost ships that come drifting into its waters. These ships are from North Korea, and manned by soldiers who were forced into the role of fishermen by the corrupt government and the risk of starvation. Ill-equipped for the task, without GPS and manned by soldiers with no sailing experience, they soon enough became floating death traps—and found their way into Japanese waters.