For many years the Bermuda triangle has been surrounded by myths and fables of missing ships, missing planes, and missing people. Some claim that there are unknown and powerful forces at work that cause these incidents. These theories range from the powers of aliens, the influence of the lost city of Atlantis, and interdimensional travel.
Others have tried to use science to find an explanation such as gases bubbling up from ocean sediments, or disruptions in the geomagnetic flux. Whilst there is no simple answer, there are plenty of stories surrounding it. One of which is the disappearance of the HMS Atalanta.
The Bermuda Triangle is an area of the open sea within a rough triangle covering around 1.1 million square km (425,000 square miles). Anchored at the three points by Bermuda, Puerto Rico, and Miami, this invisible triangle has caused many disappearances over the years, from small yachts to giant ships.
Even entire flights of military aircraft have vanished into the triangle, never to be seen again. No one knows what has happened to these crafts and people. It is possible that they have just sunk but no evidence has been found of them. This is part of what makes the legend of the Bermuda Triangle so exciting.
In 1945, a flight of 5 US Navy planes set out to fly over the area of the Bermuda Triangle. No trace of the planes, or their crews, was ever found. To further this, a sixth plane also disappeared when it went on a rescue mission for the first five planes.
This made a total of 27 people missing in six different planes in this single incident: clearly something odd was going on. One of the last communications received from these planes was a note from a member of the team saying that they were completely lost and did not know which way to go.
It was not until 1950 that the first written news on the triangle began to appear, by tabloid journalist Edward Van Winkle Jones writing in the Miami Herald newspaper. He wrote about the strange disappearance of a large number of ships off the coast of the Bahamas.
In 1952, George X. Sand also started writing about the mysterious disappearances. In 1964 there was an article published in the fictional publications Argosy Magazine. It was titled the “Deadly Bermuda Triangle” and it detailed many of the disappearances and supernatural phenomena associated with the “Devil’s Triangle”.
Many scientists from across the globe have attempted to solve the mystery of the Bermuda Triangle. National Geographic claims that the most famous cases and myths of the Triangle can all be explained through the magnetic variations of the area, caves, and methane explosions.
A more recent theory however claims something different. Karl Kruszenlnicki, an Australian scientist, thinks that he may have solved the mystery. He told the British media that the main reason for these disappearances lies in three fairly mundane things: The weather, human error, and high traffic of ships and planes.
What is the Reality?
The scientific theories are not as exciting as the supernatural ones but can explain at least some of the puzzles away. Human error is something that happens fairly regularly, and it can cause strange occurrences. Technology can fail or someone can make a bad decision. It cannot be evidenced or accounted for because no remains ever come back.
The weather can also cause many problems for vehicles traveling through this area. Hurricanes, storms, and typhoons are known to appear frequently in this area just off the coast of these islands. These adverse weather conditions can easily pull ships and planes off of their course and cause them to crash.
Sea caves can also cause problems and take away the evidence of the crashes. They are deep vertical caves that create strong currents which can drag any debris away, making any attempts to find wreckage impossible.
Methane explosions can also cause a large amount of damage to passing ships and planes. In deep craters, there is a large concentration of methane gas. This combined with the heat of the tropical waters and fuel burned by the ships could potentially cause the methane to explode which would destroy the boats, leaving them to disappear to the bottom of the ocean.
One of the most famous stories of a ship disappearing comes from the HMS Atalanta. Originally a naval vessel named HMS Juno, she was a 26-gun frigate and saw action in annexing the Keeling Islands to the British Empire. She was renamed in 1878 as the HMS Atalanta.
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In 1880, HMS Atalanta was acting as a training ship but disappeared with her entire crew in the Bermuda area. It was assumed that the ship sank in a powerful storm that crossed the area at the same time. There was worldwide attention on the ship as many people wanted the ship to be found.
However, the investigation was made difficult as there were no survivors. One former crew member said that the HMS Atalanta was overweight and that he had personally witnessed her roll beyond 32 degrees in heavy weather.
The exact circumstances of the ship’s disappearance still remains uncertain. The Avon, a gunboat, sailed at a similar time in a similar area. It reported seeing lots of wreckage floating in the sea. What made everything worse was that, as a training ship, the crew was inexperienced and young.
There has been no confirmed finding of the wreck, but it has been thought that a German ship saw the wreck of Atalanta when It was passing through the triangle in the September of that year.
Even today, there is no definitive answer on what causes the disappearances in the Bermuda Triangle. The disappearances are likely just unfortunate events yet without being able to confirm it there will always be a mystery surrounding the area.
Every passing ship or plane that goes through it will always question whether this is the time that they will disappear. It is something that has haunted the 20th century and it will likely follow the area for decades to come. Maybe one day the secrets of the Bermuda triangle will be revealed but it doesn’t look like it will be anytime soon.
Top Image: HMS Atalanta, who disappeared in 1880 in the Bermuda Triangle. Source: La Ilustracion Espanola y Americana / Public Domain.
By Kurt Readman