Tales of ghost ships seem like they should be reserved for the annals of legend, from a time when pirates wore eye patches and marauders stormed galleons and buried treasure on desert isles. But even in modern times, with high tech tracking and satellite communication, eerie ghost ships occasionally wash ashore or drift at sea, mysteriously abandoned by their crew, seemingly haunted.

Yes, there are still pirates around in certain parts of the world today, and that helps explain some ghost ship stories, but not all of them.

Just recently, an abandoned tanker ran aground on the Liberian coast, bereft of a crew either alive or dead, according to the Telegraph. Though no apparitions have been witnessed haunting the decks, the ship's empty passageways, holds and cabins whisper and wail with a raspy mystery. What happened here? Where did the crew go?

The ship has been identified as the Tamaya 1, which links it to the country of Panama, but officials say the vessel once flew a Nigerian flag. The leading clue about what happened seems to be clear evidence of a fire onboard. Parts of the ship are charred, including all of the ship's records, which only deepens the mystery. The crew may have abandoned ship to escape a fire, but only one of the two lifeboats is missing and no bodies were found aboard.

The website marinetraffic.com, which tracks seafaring vessels all over the world, shows that the Tamaya 1 last transmitted its position off the coast on April 22. The event has also stirred up controversy within the Liberian government, since it seems like a rather large snafu that such a large ship, whether occupied or not, could enter the country's waters for several days without anyone noticing until it ran aground.

As of yet, the whereabouts of that one missing lifeboat remains a puzzle. For all anyone knows, there may be a ghost lifeboat drifting about in the Atlantic Ocean somewhere too.

It just goes to show that despite modern communications and tracking, the ocean is still a forbidding, desolate place, and when things go wrong at sea, crews can vanish without a trace.

Bryan Nelson ( @@brynelson ) writes about everything from environmental problems here on Earth to big questions in space.

How are there ghost ships in modern times?
Officials are scrambling for an explanation after a ghost ship mysteriously washed ashore recently in Africa.