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Twelve Haunted Ships

Updated on May 17, 2016

Ghosts have appeared everywhere where there’s been tragedy. And if there is one place where tragedies are often quite common, it would be on board a ship. The seas are a treacherous, dangerous place, and as exciting as sailing upon them can be it can also be dangerous given how many have been killed upon those waters. Therefore, it is perhaps natural that there have been many restless spirits wandering upon ships and vessels that carried them out to the seas. Just so you know this is not a list about twelve ghost ships as in a ship that’s found with its crew missing or phantom ships. No, this is a list about actual ghostly encounters on actual ships.

SS Watertown
SS Watertown | Source

12. SS Watertown

The pictures that were taken on the SS Watertown are regarded as a classic example of ghosts having been caught on photograph. In 1924, an oil tanker the SS Watertown was sailing from California to New Orleans through the Panama Canal. In early December, two crew members Seaman James Courtney and Michael Meehan were cleaning a cargo tank when a freak accident occurred which caused them to be overcome of die of gas fumes. As was tradition, both men were buried as sea on December 4th. The following day and several days later, the crew went into an uproar as when just before dusk, the ghostly heads of the dead crew men could be seen: first onboard the ship and later out over the waves. When the two could be seen over the waves, they were about ten feet apart and forty feet from the ship. A photograph of the heads was taken and the camera, with the film untouched inside, was given to Captain Keith Tracy for safe keeping. Once the SS Watertown arrived at New Orleans, the Captain handed the camera to the officials of the Cities Services Company who sent it to their New York office. There, it was determined that the camera and film hadn’t been tampered with in anyway and the developed film clearly showed the heads of the two crew members.

The photo in question, with arrows pointing at the faces.
The photo in question, with arrows pointing at the faces. | Source
Carnival Conquest docked at Riviera Maya
Carnival Conquest docked at Riviera Maya | Source

11. Carnival Conquest

The Carnival Conquest is a cruise ship of Carnival Cruise Lines. Toward the end of this year on December 7th, 2014, the Carnival Conquest will be setting sail through the Bermuda Triangle for a cruise celebrating all things ghosts and the paranormal called Paranormal at Sea 2014. So of all ships available why was the Carnival Conquest chosen for this event? Simple, she’s haunted. There are two particular stories amongst many about ghosts encountered on the Carnival Conquest. To begin with on September 23rd, 2011, a woman, who was staying on board with her husband in Cabin 6412, had just finished dressing for dinner. As she was admiring herself in the mirror, she heard something strange: “I clearly heard a male voice say ‘you look beautiful tonight,’” she writes. “I looked toward my husband. He was on the balcony with the door shut. I looked at the TV. It was on the menu channel playing only music. I blew it off, thinking perhaps it came from the hall.” As she continued preparing for dinner, she again heard the voice say, “You look beautiful tonight.” Frightened, the woman raced to the balcony and told her husband what she had heard. He believed her, even though he hadn’t heard any voices and the voices weren’t heard again.

In another instance on board, a passenger encountered another friendly spirit in her cabin, #2465. One night, when a passenger returned to this cabin, his wife told him that while she was sleeping someone had touched her on the leg and had awoken her. However, she simply blew it off. After returning from the cruise, the couple attended a séance where one of the women attending asked if anybody had recently been on a cruise and if anything strange had happened. The man’s wife mentioned the incident with the leg touching and the women told about how her aunt had died on board the Carnival Conquest two years ago, in the exact same cabin the couple were staying in. “The women apparently communicated with Tina’s spirit that night,” writes the husband. “My wife asked why Tina had touched her. Tina said she was just comforting her.”

UB-65 in port
UB-65 in port | Source

10. SM UB-65

Many people who have studied World War I should know that one of the most feared and deadliest weapons available to the Germans was their fleet of U-boats, submarines. UB-65 was a Type UB III U-Boat of the Imperial German Navy, ordered on May 20th, 1916, launched on August 18th, 1917, and commanded by Kapitänleutnant Martin Schelle. The building of the submarine was plagued with multiple difficulties and strange happenings. Shortly before construction of the sub was finished, a malfunction in the engine room resulted in three men dying of asphyxiation. Shortly afterward during the maiden voyage, UB-65 ran into a storm where one of the crew members was swept away overboard. There was another incident where during diving tests, one of the ballast tanks sprang a leak and the entire crew nearly suffocated as it took twelve hours to repair. Finally, when the U-boat returned to port, the Second Officer Lieutenant Richter was killed when while taking on a supply of torpedoes, one of them exploded also damaging the sub to the point where it had to be taken to the dockyards for repair.

UB-65 and Lieutenant Richter
UB-65 and Lieutenant Richter | Source

A few weeks later, just before the sub was ready to sail again, a crew member ran into the wardroom yelling that the dead Second Officer had just boarded. Thinking that the sailor was drunk, the captain and another officer went up on the deck where they saw another cowering crewman. This crewman also claimed that he had just seen the Second Officer walking across the deck before disappearing. Later, when the UB-65 was out sailing again, just before it was preparing to dive, a crewman spotted a figure on deck when all hands were supposed to be below already. The figure turned, and the crewman recognized it as the Second Officer before it seemingly shouted a warning at him before disappearing. Another crew member ran into the ghostly Second Officer below deck who tried to communicate with him before vanishing. Again, the torpedo gunner went insane after being tormented at night by the Second Officer’s ghost who would not leave him alone.

Artist's rendition of the ghostly second officer
Artist's rendition of the ghostly second officer | Source

Finally, the reputation of the UB-65’s haunting became so bad that the German authorities came to investigate. At first skeptical, when the commodore in charge of the investigation began interviewing witnesses he became convinced that something strange was going on. The submarine was temporarily taken out of service and while in dock in Belgium, a Lutheran pastor came on board and performed an exorcism. That seemingly did the trick and the ghost didn’t appear again… until early July of 1918. One morning, a crewman saw a shadowy figure enter the torpedo room. When he entered the room, he came face-to-face with the ghostly Second Officer who tried to warn him about something as he pointed at the torpedo launch bay. Later that very same day, an American sub, the USS L-2 spotted UB-65. Just as the L-2 was about to attack however, UB-65 exploded despite the Americans not having fired yet. All 37 crew members on board were killed.

Delta Queen in Memphis, Tennessee
Delta Queen in Memphis, Tennessee | Source

9. Delta Queen

The Delta Queen is a sternwheel steamboat which in the past sailed up and down the tributaries of the great Mississippi River. Constructed in 1926 and in service all the way until 2008, the Delta Queen has been declared as a National Historical Landmark. She was originally constructed to operate along the Sacramento River before being used a yard ferry boat in San Francisco bay during World War II. After the war, the ferry was towed through the Panama Canal to be relocated to the Mississippi River where she spent the rest of her service as a passenger cruise ferry along the river’s tributaries. Today, she serves as a floating hotel in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

The Delta Queen is haunted by the ghost of her former captain, Mary “Ma” Becker Greene. After her service during World War II, the Delta Queen was put up for auction. She was purchased by Captain Thomas Greene of the Greene Line for $46,250. That was when the Delta Queen was towed from California to the Mississippi so that it could be refurbished. Upon entering service, Captain Tom Greene’s mother, Mary “Ma” Greene became the riverboat’s co-captain: the first female licensed riverboat captain along the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. She was the first person to move aboard the riverboat when it first arrived. For the next few years, when “Ma” Greene was not acting as co-captain, she often entertained the guests creating a very family-like atmosphere on board the ship. In particular, she was noted for her belief in temperance and refused to allow alcohol to be served aboard the ship. Finally, after helping her son at the ferry’s homeport along the Ohio River in Cincinnati, Ma Greene retired to her cabin, 109 where she passed away. She was around 80 years old.

Mary Becker Greene with husband, Gordon Christopher Greene circa 1910-1920
Mary Becker Greene with husband, Gordon Christopher Greene circa 1910-1920 | Source

Shortly after her death, a saloon was established on board the Delta Queen and yet almost immediately after the first drink was served, a barge crashed into the riverboat. When the crew untangled the mess, they were amazed to find that the name of the barge was the Captain Mary B., as if Ma herself had stopped them from serving liquor on board. It is after this incident that Ma’s ghost started appearing, usually around Cabin 109. Two female employees, entertainer Phyllis Dale and guest pianist Marie Richardson both saw Ms’ ghost at different times while working.

Around 1984, then first mate, Captain Mike Williams was sleeping in his bunk when he heard somebody whispering in his ear, even feeling the person’s breath. Capt. Williams was supposed to have been the only one on board at the time and thus this was quite shocking. He got up and checked on all of the other cabins, noting that all of them were unlocked save one, Cabin 109. However, he then heard the sound of the boiler room door slamming and when he went to investigate he saw that there was water flooding the lower levels. A hole, one that could have sunk the ferry, was discovered and quickly repaired. Captain Williams believes that it was Ma Greene who had whispered into his ear to warn him.

Ma Greene’s ghost has even played matchmaker. In 1985, Myra Frugé was a new employee onboard, working as a purser. Late one night she received a call from Cabin 109, where she heard an elderly lady complaining about being ill and cold. Ms. Frugé asked the now captain, Mike Williams for help but, when they arrived at the room she was surprised to find that it was empty. As Myra Frugé was newly employed at the time, she had no idea that the room was haunted: Capt. Williams explained to her the story about Ma Greene and how she had died in that very room. As a result of this incident, the two became friends and within a year, they were married. To this day, there are many who wonder if the Delta Queen is indeed haunted by Ma Greene’s ghost, with even Discovery Channel’s “Ghost Lab” joining in on the investigation.

USS Forrestal
USS Forrestal | Source

8. USS Forrestal (CV-59)

Of the various 20th century US Navy ships on this list, the USS Forrestal is the only one that did not serve in World War II. Rather, the major incident that took place onboard this aircraft carrier in the Gulf of Tonkin during the Vietnam War completely revamped the way the Navy handles damage control. On July 29, 1967, at about 10: 50 AM (local time), the Forrestal was preparing for a second strike against the North Vietnamese that day when an unguided 5.0 in (127.0 mm) Mk-32 "Zuni" rocket, one of four contained in a LAU-10 underwing rocket pod mounted on an F-4B Phantom II, accidentally fired as a result of an electrical surge. The rocket flew across the flight deck and struck the external fuel tank of an A-4E Skyhawk, igniting the escaping JP-5 jet fuel. What happened next was a devastating chain reaction as the other fuel tanks of the Skyhawk, which released more jet fuel to feed the flames spreading them across the deck, which in turn caused some of the bombs to fall on deck and explode, which then spread to the other planes destroying them, etc. talk about a major disaster. One of the Seahawk pilots, a certain Lt. Cmdr. John McCain (whom you may have heard of) barely escaped with his life. Damage Control teams that tried to prevent the fire from spreading ended up getting killed in subsequent explosions. As a result, sailors who weren’t properly trained in damage control had to take over and ultimately they ended up making the fire worse due to lack of training (which is the reason why all Navy sailors are required to be trained in damage control now). All in all, about 134 men were killed, 161 were injured, and the damage cost the Navy $72 million.

USS Forrestal on fire, the worst US carrier fire since WWII; USS Rupertus (DD-851) maneuvers to within 20 ft (6.1 m) to use fire hoses.
USS Forrestal on fire, the worst US carrier fire since WWII; USS Rupertus (DD-851) maneuvers to within 20 ft (6.1 m) to use fire hoses. | Source

Ever since the disaster the USS Forrestal has been haunted by a ghost that was given the nickname, “George”. George was a ghost seen wearing a khaki uniform like a chief or an officer. He was often seen in the storage areas below the waterline which at one time was used as a morgue. Many believe that “George” is the ghost of one of the chiefs who was killed in the disastrous fire. As a result of the ghost, many men were frightened the apparitions, doors unlocking on their own, voices on disconnected phones, strange sounds, and flickering lights. Often, men refused to venture into certain areas of the ship alone.

Since then, various sailors serving on board the Forrestal have stories to tell about their encounter with the ghost in khaki uniform. A Petty Officer James Hillard followed the khaki wearing figure into a compartment only to for it to disappear. Petty Officer Danny Balboa kept hearing strange noises and found that doors he had locked to be opened, despite himself having the keys. Bryon “Barney” Haslam talks about the time when he and another sailor had fallen asleep while on watch in the boiler room. They were shaken awake by some mysterious force saying, “Hey” whereupon Haslam discovered that one of the boiler fires had gone out—another disaster was narrowly averted. In 1985, a group of night watchmen twice saw the ghost in khaki flight deck gear approaching aircraft on the PLAT (Pilot Landing Aid Television) system. Even when the ship was being decommissioned in 1993, one of the welders Stan Shimborski encountered the ghost deep within the storage area that once served as a morgue.

The U.S.S. North Carolina, a battleship and museum.
The U.S.S. North Carolina, a battleship and museum. | Source

7. USS North Carolina (BB-55)

The USS North Carolina is a battleship that served during World War II. She was launched in 1941 with much fanfare as the first of the US Navy’s modern battleships. Of course, once the US got involved in World War II it would be the aircraft carriers who would dominate the seas. Regardless, the North Carolina had a distinguished career as an escort and protection for the all important aircraft carriers. Participating in the battles of Guadalcanal, the Solomon Islands, Tarawa, the Marshalls, and Iwo Jima among others, the battleship won a total of 15 battle stars. For example, during the Battle of Guadalcanal, the North Carolina was escorting two carriers, the USS Hornet (CV-8), and the USS Wasp (CV-7). On September 15, 1942 they were attacked by a Japanese submarine—the Wasp was sunk while the North Carolina lost five men but managed to stay afloat due to the efforts of the crew. Decommissioned in 1947, placed in the inactive reserve fleet in 1958, she was scheduled to be scrapped in 1961 only to be saved and preserved as a memorial and museum ship following the Save our Ship campaign of many North Carolinians.

Only ten men were lost onboard while in service: five when the ship was torpedoed on September 15, 1942, another three in a friendly fire incident in April 1945, and two more in separate incidents. At least two of those ten men are still on board. It is often suggested that one of these ghosts is “good” and the other one is “evil”. A ghost of a young blonde man is often seen in the passageways. Another ghost occasionally peers through portholes. One ghost has even hitched a ride with an unsuspecting guest. Hatches and doors open and close on their own, televisions and lights turn on and off on their own, things move on their own, even while people are watching, the ghosts will talk to people and even yell at them, there are cold spots, footsteps, and other disturbing incidents, etc. The “good” ghost is known to merely rattle things, turn off lights, and move things about the room. The “evil” ghost on the other hand will drop the temperature of the room and will even chase people about yelling at them. The long time night watchman Danny Bradshaw talks about his encounter with the blonde hair ghost: about how when he was once below deck at night repairing a power box in the galley, he felt a gust of cold air and a hand on his shoulder. When he turned around there was nobody there but he could hear footsteps walking away. In a nearby open hatch, there was the sailor with blonde hair—the flashlight beam passed right through him. When Bradshaw screamed, the ghost turned his way and disappeared.

In 2005, TAPS (The Atlantic Paranormal Society) Investigators came onboard the ship for an episode of the SciFi Channel show “Ghost Hunters”. During this investigation, the TAPS investigators heard loud banging, ghostly footsteps, hatchways opening and closing, and other strange noises. They even followed a shadow which moved a bracket and disappeared and managed to get a possible EVP reading of the noises.

USS Lexington at Corpus Christi Bay.
USS Lexington at Corpus Christi Bay. | Source

6. USS Lexington (CV-16)

Speaking of aircraft carriers that served during World War II, the USS Lexington (CV-16) is another ship said to be haunted. Even before becoming haunted, the Lexington (CV-16) was known as “The Blue Ghost” and was feared by the Japanese as a ghost ship. What had happened was that the original USS Lexington (CV-2) had been sunk at the Battle of the Coral Sea. The new carrier CV-16 that was being constructed at the time was supposed to have been named the USS Cabot, but when news of the original’s sinking was reported the name was changed to USS Lexington. Thus in 1943, when the Japanese saw the “supposedly sunk” USS Lexington, they were terrified. In the battles that followed, the Japanese reported that they had sunk the Lexington no less than four times, yet she returned each and every time ready for battle. It’s no wonder they feared her as “The Blue Ghost”.

USS Lexington Ghost in the engine room.
USS Lexington Ghost in the engine room. | Source

Today, the USS Lexington (CV-16) is a museum ship in Corpus Christi, Texas, after being decommissioned in 1991. Even today, many men who died aboard the carrier during its service in World War II haunt the ship. For example, in 1943 the ship was hit by a torpedo where many men were killed. A lot of these men are said to haunt the ship to this day. Even more men were killed when the ship was hit by a kamikaze pilot in 1944. Since then, there have been multiple experiences of people hearing voices, footsteps, seeing shadow people, having felt something invisible brush past them, and having had their blankets yanked off while they were sleeping. There are also multiple photographs in existence of the various ghosts and apparitions aboard the ship, including the ghost of the engine room.

The most famous ghost on board the Lexington is a friendly ghost of the engine room operator who was killed in battle. Usually his presence is only felt when tourists enter the engine room though there are times when he has gotten impatient and has slammed doors and turned off lights. Visitors have felt a cold chill when they pass by the room and others have stated seeing something moving around in the darkness of the supposedly empty engine room. One guest has even claimed to have seen the engineer’s ghost staring at the engine as if he wanted to repair something. Some cadets staying onboard have come face-to-face with him. Most chillingly, the engineer’s ghost has given personal tours to unsuspecting visitors. Visitors have talked about how upon coming aboard, a blonde haired, blue eyed man from the engine room wearing an authentic uniform offered them a tour. After following him around for a while, they often lose sight of him somewhere below deck. When these guests tell the staff about the wonderful tour guide called “Charlie” wearing an authentic Navy uniform they are often told that no such person exists.

USS Constellation (1854) at Inner Harbor.
USS Constellation (1854) at Inner Harbor. | Source

5. USS Constellation

Constructed in 1854, the USS Constellation is an all-sail sloop-of-war that served the navy immediately before, during, and after the Civil War. Currently docked in Baltimore’s “Inner Dock” Pier 1, the USS Constellation is the second Navy ship to carry the name. That said, there does seem to be a certain level of controversy surrounding the USS Constellation, namely is it the first, original 1797 frigate USS Constellation rebuilt, or is it a completely different ship altogether, unrelated except through name? This is actually an important question because although the official stance is that the two Constellations are different ships, most ghosts that have been encountered on the second Constellation are actually associated with the first Constellation.

USS Constellation (1797) by John W. Schmidt
USS Constellation (1797) by John W. Schmidt | Source
Captain Thomas Truxtun, painted in 1817 by Bass Otis.
Captain Thomas Truxtun, painted in 1817 by Bass Otis. | Source

One such ghost regularly encountered on the ship is that of the original captain of the 1797 USS Constellation: Captain Thomas Truxton who commanded the original ship from 1798 to 1801. The ghost of Captain Truxton is often seen on the forecastle deck wearing full 18th century navy regalia. The most commonly seen ghost on board is the ghost of Neil Harvey, often seen on the orlop deck as a shimmering mass. On February 5th, 1799, the Constellation had scored a massive victory and captured the French Frigate L'Insurgent. However, it was discovered that during the battle Seaman Neil Harvey had fallen asleep while on watch. This was a very serious matter and Captain Truxton had Harvey tried and found guilty of treason. After being run through with a sword, Harvey was tied to the front of a cannon and blown to pieces on order by Truxton. Apparently that is why he appears as a shimmering mass—because he was blown to pieces. They say that Harvey’s ghost appears trying to show that somehow he wasn’t a coward.

There are other ghosts on board as well: the ghost of an eleven year old boy who served as the surgeon’s assistant who was murdered by two other sailors in 1822, also, the ghost of a young man who hung himself after being overwhelmed by the conditions on the ship. All of these ghosts are of people who served on the original 1797 USS Constellation and yet haunt the 1854 USS Constellation. The ghost of Carl Hansen however, is different. He served as the watchman of the 1854 USS Constellation until 1965. His ghost is often seen below deck playing cards and appears completely solid so that you can’t even tell that he’s a ghost. He has often interacted directly with guests and is seemingly quite friendly for a ghost. In fact, it’s been alleged that Hansen’s ghost has given unsuspecting visitors full tours of the ship; the visitors have no idea that the “authentically dressed tour guide” actually served onboard the ship nearly a hundred years ago.

USS Yorktown (CVS-10) at sea off Hawaii (USA), some time between 1961 and 1963.
USS Yorktown (CVS-10) at sea off Hawaii (USA), some time between 1961 and 1963. | Source

4. USS Yorktown (CV-10)

Much like the USS Lexington (CV-16) in the entry above, the USS Yorktown (CV-10) was named after the USS Yorktown (CV-5) which was lost during the Battle of Midway. Nicknamed “The Fighting Lady”, she was launched in 1943 and earned eleven battle stars throughout World War II and also returned for service during the Vietnam War. She has appeared in major motion pictures such as Tora! Tora! Tora! and Philadelphia Experiment as well as the documentary The Fighting Lady, and she even served as the recovery ship of Apollo 8. In 1974 she was donated to the Patriot’s Point Naval & Maritime Museum located in Mount Pleasant near Charlestown where she became a museum ship.

A panoramic image of the USS Yorktown (CVS-10) as she sits at Patriots Point in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina (USA)
A panoramic image of the USS Yorktown (CVS-10) as she sits at Patriots Point in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina (USA) | Source
A possible ghost in the radar room. (Butterfield, 2008)
A possible ghost in the radar room. (Butterfield, 2008) | Source

It is here as a museum ship where most of her ghosts have been encountered. Museum staff members have regularly encountered all kinds of activity and have even seen apparitions that were so clear that they were recognized as individual crew members. In addition to the museum staff, visitors and policemen have reported multiple strange happenings, in almost every corner of the ship. In all, 141 men died aboard the ship and some apparently are still there. For example, in August, 2008, a William Butterfield took a photo of the ship’s RADAR room that vaguely shows the ghostly image of a man wearing a long-sleeved shirt, despite the summer heat of August.

In 2012, just like the case with the USS North Carolina several years earlier, TAPS investigators came onboard the USS Yorktown for an episode of SciFi (or rather SyFy) Channel’s “Ghost Hunters”. In just the first half of the episode alone, TAPS investigators not only unexplained noises, but they also found full-body apparitions, conversations, laughter, and even physical contact. There was even a specter caught on the flight deck where a plane had crashed, killing three people. Whatever the situation with the Yorktown ghosts is, as a result of the response from the “Ghost Hunters episode, Patriot’s Point Naval & Maritime Museum has incorporated these alleged haunting as part of their tour system. These 90-minute guided “ghost tours” often take tourists to some of the most haunted areas of the ship where usually they aren’t even supposed to go.

SS Great Britain in dry dock at Bristol in 2005.
SS Great Britain in dry dock at Bristol in 2005. | Source

3. SS Great Britain

The SS Great Britain is considered to be one of the most haunted locations in the United Kingdom (which is saying something). The SS Great Britain is a passenger steamship complete in 1845 which was hailed as being highly advanced for her time: the first ship ever built entirely out of iron along with a screw-propeller system, the first great ocean liner. Changing owners several times, the SS Great Britain sailed the seas until 1886 when she was retired to the Falkland Islands where she was used as a warehouse, quarantine ship, and coal hulk until scuttled in 1937. In 1970, she was brought back to the Bristol drydock where she was constructed and has served as a museum ship ever since.

Captain John Gray
Captain John Gray | Source
The Promenade
The Promenade | Source

One of the most famous ghosts on board the Great Britain is the ghost of Captain John Gray. Gray had first come aboard the Great Britain in 1852 as the second officer on the ship’s first journey to Australia. He was promoted to first officer for the second journey and became the ship’s captain in 1854, a position he held for eighteen years until 1872. On the night of November 25th, 1872, he simply disappeared, never to be seen again. He was last seen leaving his cabin, despite having been ill the previous day, and was walking on deck in the middle of the night. In the morning he was gone, no trace of him was ever found. The only clue to this mysterious disappearance was an open transom window in the Lower Saloon that had been screwed closed the previous night. Some claim he committed suicide and others claim he was murdered. Whichever way, it is believed that the sound of mysterious footsteps of hobnailed boots that are often heard on the deck belong to him. Around 1992 or 1993, a 17-year-old student named Sonny Graffo saw John Gray’s ghost sitting on a beam of wood going across the gantries thirty to forty feet below him, starring back at him.

There have been other ghostly encounters, such as a phantom piano being played on the promenade despite the lid being closed. The ghosts of a thirteen-year-old crewmember who died in the rigging in front of his father, a seventeen-year-old bride who died just weeks after her wedding, and a ghoulish Victorian woman on the promenade have all been encountered. The promenade in particular is haunted by multiple ghosts. In May of 2008, investigators of the British TV show “Most Haunted” conducted an investigation of the haunting. In just the 24 hours they spent on the ship, the crew encountered multiple phenomena of sounds, things thrown at them, and even the aforementioned Victorian woman. Even the presenter Yvette Fielding was struck with a mysterious illness.

USS Hornet in Alameda, CA (USA).
USS Hornet in Alameda, CA (USA). | Source

2. USS Hornet (CV-12)

The USS Hornet (CV-12) is often said to be single most haunted ship of all time, rivaling the RMS Queen Mary for the position. Just like the other two aircraft carriers on this list, the USS Hornet (CV-12) was named after the USS Hornet (CV-8) (see entry for USS North Carolina), which was lost in October of 1942. Launched in 1943, the Hornet went on to take part in multiple operations through the rest of World War II such as being the ship that instigated the Battle of the Philippine Sea (in which all four of the WWII US Navy ships on this list participated in). Nicknamed “The Grey Lady”, the Hornet destroyed 1,410 Japanese aircraft and 1,269,710 tons of enemy shipping. Ten Hornet pilots attained "Ace in a Day" status, and in March of 1944 the Hornet struck and sunk the great Japanese super-battleship Yamato. In 1969 she was given the honor of picking up the Apollo 11 and Apollo 12 astronauts on their return home from the moon before being decommissioned the following year. In 1998 she was opened to the public as a museum ship, docked in Alameda Naval Base, California.

With such an illustrious 27 year career, there has been plenty of tragedy on board. All in all, 300 people lost their lives aboard the ship, whether they were sucked into intakes, blown off the deck, blown up when dropped ordinance exploded, etc. Most of these deaths happened during combat, some were by accident, and some were by suicide: the Hornet had the dubious distinction of having the highest suicide rate of all navy ships. It is perhaps no wonder why the ship is so haunted. After the ship was converted into a museum ship in Alameda there have been multiple reports of mysterious phenomena. Doors would open or close on their own, tools would vanish only to reappear after a long search, toilets flush themselves, eerie presences are felt, objects move along the floor or fall off the shelf on their own. There are often specters of men seen wearing uniforms of the past, going about their “daily routines” as if they were following orders from a time long past.

The USS Hornet had a steam room—if a steam pipe in the room ever ruptured, the men in the room would be instantly boiled to death before they even realize what had happened. On one occasion, a crewman’s arm was severed as a result of a ruptured steam pipe which caused him to pass out. He bled to death and by the time his shipmates had discovered him, he had been boiled by the steam pipe. His ghost now haunts this room, occasionally accompanied by engine noise. In the brig, there was once a Japanese POW who went mad and died in his cell. He still haunts that cell unable to get out. Near the ship’s catapult at least three men are known to have been decapitated as a result of a snapping arresting cable. Since then this area has been haunted by the ghost of a headless crewmember. Sometimes only his footsteps are heard but whenever he is seen he is regarded as the most frightening and disturbing thing that person has ever seen. For their fourth season finale TAPS investigators for SyFy Channel’s “Ghost Hunters” (again) investigated the ship and they (again) encountered many a ghostly phenomena.

RMS Queen Mary at Long Beach, California
RMS Queen Mary at Long Beach, California | Source

1. RMS Queen Mary

Yes, yes, I am aware that the RMS Queen Mary is very much the obvious choice for number one but, how could I possibly miss out on what many consider to be the single most haunted ship in the world? Except possibly the USS Hornet (CV-12) that is. Completed in 1936, the RMS Queen Mary operated until 1967 as a part of the Cunard White Star Line (formerly Cunard Line) as an ocean liner traversing the North Atlantic. During World War II she served as a troopship, ferrying American soldiers to Europe at record speeds. After being retired in 1967, she began her final cruise on October 31st, 1967 to Long Beach, California where she was converted into a floating hotel, restaurant, and museum ship where she has been to this day.

Cabin B340
Cabin B340 | Source
The 1st class Swimming Pool
The 1st class Swimming Pool | Source
The Boiler Room
The Boiler Room | Source

A lot has been said about the various ghosts that inhabit the Queen Mary. Apparently, there have been some 40 passenger and crew deaths aboard this ship and it is said to be haunted by at least 130 ghosts. In particular, Cabin B340 is so haunted that it is no longer rented out to guests. Some say that a member of the staff, a purser was murdered here. Since then, the faucets in this cabin have turned on by themselves and bed sheets have often been flung across the room. It is now a stark white room with very little furniture in it. The first class swimming pool is populated by a number of female ghosts, one dressed in 1960s swimwear and the other in 1930s attire. Likewise, the second class swimming pool is populated by the ghost of an elderly woman, and a little girl called Jackie who often leaves wet footprints. Jackie is also sometimes seen in the boiler rooms. The Queen’s Salon is haunted by a ghost of a lady dressed in white and the woman’s changing room is said to contain a vortex of negative energy. Back during World War II, the Queen Mary had accidentally hit one its escorts, the HMS Curacoa causing it to sink and badly damaging the Queen Mary’s Bosun’s Locker (cargo hold). The sound of tearing metal and the screams of dying men are often heard here. Invisible children can be heard playing in the forward hold and the nurseries. The kitchens are also haunted by a poltergeist from World War II where a cook was murdered by being stuffed into an oven, murdered by the troops who didn’t like his cooking.

"Door 13"
"Door 13" | Source

The most commonly seen specter is the ghost of John Pedder. On July 10th, 1966, the eighteen-year-old fireman was crushed to death while trying to slip through an automatically closing door in the “Shaft Alley” during a routine watertight drill, Door #13. What’s apparently stupid about this was that this seemingly happened during a “tradition” where crew members would test their luck jumping back and forth in between the door as it was closing. Pedder apparently tried once too many times. Whichever way his bearded ghost wearing blue overalls is often seen walking toward Door #13 before disappearing. He earned the nickname “Half Hatch Harry”, even though his real name is John Pedder. And there are still even more ghosts that can be encountered on the ship. It is another ship investigated by TAPS for “Ghost Hunters” after all.

As has been clearly demonstrated, ships have a long history of being haunted by the ghostly denizens of another world. Perhaps that is what makes them such a fascinating topic of study.

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Ghost Hunters on the North Carolina and Queen Mary


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    • profile image

      Colin Ware 

      3 years ago

      The so called ghost in the radar room is the reflection of a live human being in the plexi glass used to cordon off the equipment from visitors. nice try though

    • efeyas profile image


      6 years ago from Some Sunny Beach, USA

      Never new the Carnival ship was haunted or that they were offering a paranormal cruise in December! I just might check into that. Have been on that particular ship before among many of the new ones. Really detailed hub, voted up!

    • Peter Geekie profile image

      Peter Geekie 

      6 years ago from Sittingbourne

      Thank you for a very interesting and well researched article.

      Anyone who has served at sea knows that ships take on an identity of their own and are ideal containers for ghosts etc.

      Voted up, awesome and interesting

      Kind regards Peter


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