Ghost Ships & Haunted Lighthouses

USS Hornet

Photo Credit: Travel for Aircraft

The carrier USS Hornet, commissioned in 1943 and the eighth in its namesake's legacy, played a key role in the Battle for the Pacific during World War II. The USS Hornet was awarded nine Battle Stars for its service in the Pacific alone, most notably were the operations at Iwo Jima and Okinawa. After the last world war, the USS Hornet would serve in global tours and participate perform reconnaissance missions on Chinese Communist fighter planes. She was officially decommissioned in June, 1970, and was saved from becoming scrap in 1998 and donated to The Aircraft Hornet Foundation.
Today, tours are conducted by former servicemen of the USS Hornet, which provides a unique perspective into life on the Hornet...and its eternal crew. There are numerous sightings of full body apparitions ranging from crew members and officers in their Navy whites, as well as visitors hearing shipmates conversing...but from where? Doors and hatches will open and close on their own and tools will disappear only to reappear in a completely different part of the ship. Spots of blood have also been seen inexplicably appearing on deck during tours. Of course, that could just be a rumor.

RMS Queen Mary

Photo Credit: Travel Weekly

The RMS Queen Mary first set out to sea in 1936, in the middle of the Great Depression and right before World War II. She was meant to be a luxury liner, but would turn into a military transport ship known as "The Grey Ghost." The Queen Mary would even participate in the D-Day invasion. She would exceed her capacity numerous times, travel over 600,000 miles and carry more than 800,000 troops by the time the war had ended. After the war, she would continue to be a transport ship, but for war brides and their children. She would eventually serve her original purporse as a transatlantic cruise ship, and host many celebrities and politicians, such as Winston Churchill, Jackie Kennedy, Dwight Eisenhower, Clark Gable, Elizabeth Taylor and Audrey Hepburn, to name just a few.
In 1967, the Queen Mary was sold to the city of Long Beach, CA, to be used as a museum and hotel. There are at least 49 reported deaths, which may not include wartime deaths, so it's easy to believe there are as many as 150 spirits roaming the ship. One of the most haunted spots on the ship is the swimming pool where you can see wet foot prints on deck, even though the pools are no longer used, and hear splashing and laughing or even seeing a little girl who allegedly drowned. Another hot spot is the engine room, which was used in filming The Poseidon Adventure. At different times in the ship's history, two men were crushed by the huge watertight door and at least the most recent victim has been seen down in the engine room. There is an incredible number of other paranormal occurences on the Queen Mary, ranging from full body apparitions to phones ringing with no one on the line; water running and lights turning on with no help from living guests.

USS Arizona
uss arizona

Photo Credit: Smithsonian Magazine

The Pennsylvania class battleship USS Arizona was commissioned in March, 1914, and departed from New York in November, 1916. In 1918, it served as part of the transport division with the George Washington, the ship President Woodrow Wilson traveled on his way to the Paris Peace Conference after the armistice. Over the years between world wars, the USS Arizona served as a flagship for various battleship divisions, eventually docking in Pearl Harbor in February, 1941, for training exercises maintained by the Pacific fleet. On December 7, 1941, the USS Arizona was one of four battleships to sink during the Japanese attack; a hit near Turret II penetrated the deck, which set off a chain reaction of exploding black powder magazines. The flames lasted for two days following the attack and fuel is still leaking from the battleship under water, due to it being fully loaded in preparation for its scheduled trip to the mainland later that month. The oil can sometimes be seen covering the surface surrounding the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument, which is respectfully called "black tears," or "tears of the Arizona."
The USS Arizona had a crew of 1,511 on December 7 and 1,177 crewmen lost their lives on the vessel that day; there are still over 1,000 crewmen still trapped in the remaining hull, with most of the superstructure removed to contribute to the war effort. Out of the 37 sets of brothers confirmed to have served on board the USS Arizona, 23 of them perished in Pearl Harbor. Survivors of the USS Arizona are permitted to have their ashes interred with their former crewmates and so far 30 survivors have made it their wish to do so. Before the monument was closed for repairs, visitors would sometimes see full-bodied apparitions on deck underwater, as well as the dock by the sunken battleship. There is also a pervasive sense of extreme sadness and anxiety surrounding the USS Arizona that is allegedly unexplained; however, since so much pain and violence occurred here, is it really so strange for the living to be affected so acutely?

USS Lexington
uss lexington

Photo Credit: Omni Hotels

There is more than one USS Lexington, but only one is known as the Blue Ghost and a former film set for Pearl Harbor. It was originally going to be called the USS Cabot until the first USS Lexington cruiser was sunk in the Coral Sea in May, 1942, and was ultimately just named the USS Lexington. This USS Lexington you are about to embark on was involved in nearly every major Pacific Theater battle during World War II. The Japanese reported to have sunk the ship at least four times, so that, along with its blue paint that was kept during wartime, contributed it to being nicknamed the Blue Ghost by Japanese radio propaganda, specifically by the Toyko Rose personality. By the time it was decommissioned in 1991, it was the oldest operating U.S. carrier and the first to have women on its crew.
If you happen to take a tour of the cruiser, you may come across a knowledgeable fellow named Charlie working on the ship. The only problem is Charlie isn't on the payroll and isn't known as an actual employee on the USS Lexington. He's most often seen in the engine room, where he allegedly died during a Japanese attack; however, he's also appeared to visitors and sometimes offers a tour of the ship. Other victims from past battles have been seen throughout the ship, and not just American crewmen; there is a point maked by the Japanese flag where a kamikaze pilot crashed on deck and a Japanese pilot has been seen by tourists more than once alongside another American crewman. Screams and cries reportedly accompany these apparitions, as well as the sounds of artillery and unexplained smells. Paranormal investigators have also been able to record EVP's and footage of what appears to be seamen walking through the walls and hallways.

USS Alabama

Photo Credit: All Things Cruise

The USS Alabama is a South Dakota class battleship that was ordered in the Spring of 1939, months before the United States even entered the war. It was completed nine months ahead of schedule with the aid of over 3000 men and women working around the clock in the Norfolk Navy Yard; altogether, the battleship would cost $80 million, which would be roughly $1.4 billion in 2019. The USS Alabama first served in the Atlantic Theatre, but was shortly assigned to the Pacific to help U.S. forces reclaim Japanese-controlled islands. Nicknamed the "Mighty A" and the "Lucky A," The USS Alabama served in the liberation of Guam, Tinian, Saipan, as well as the Philippines, Okinawa and Taiwan. By the end of its career, the USS Alabama had earned nine Battle Stars and then sat, decommissioned and in storage, until 1962 when the U.S. Government announced it, along with several other battleships, would be turned into scrap.
This prompted Alabama citizens to start a petition and raised funds to turn the USS Alabama into a museum and memorial to all Alabaman soldiers who died during World War II. Numerous deaths are to be expected on a battleship; however, the first deaths surrounding the ship occurred before the USS Alabama even entered the war. While under construction, two men died while working in the shipyard. While serving, casualties were not incurred due to enemy fire, but eight men were killed due to friendly fire when one of the safety features of the turrets malfunctioned. Visitors will regularly hear footsteps and voices that are not attributed to their fellow tourists, as well as phantom gunfire. Hatches have also been seen to slam on their own. Full-bodied apparitions have also been seen in the officer quarters and galley, so beware, not everyone you see on board may be part of the staff.

USS Constitution

Photo Credit: National Parks Service

The USS Constitution is one of the oldest world ships in the world, being commissioned in 1794 by George Washington. It took three years to build this ship and was officially launched in 1797 into Boston Harbor after it had to be modified. The issue then was the USS Constitution has three layers of pine and oak, along with copper bolts and fittings that were forged by Paul Revere, which weighed down the slip way boards; therefore, the ship couldn't exit the shipyard. For the first decade of its existence, the USS Constitution was in short voyages and encounters, but then from 1801-1803, it was "ordinary and repair," which means "it was temporarily out of commission in a dry dock or harbor," according to the museum website for the USS Constitution. It did see quite a lot of action during the War of 1812 and earned the nickname "Old Ironsides" after it battled the HMS Guerriere as cannanballs shot toward the USS Constitution and promptly bounced off. During the Civil War, it served as a training ship and then retired from active duty in 1907.
When the USS Constitution sailed to commemorate its "birthday" and the anniversary of the battle with the HMS Guerriere, the crew would see objects roll across the deck for no explicable reason, including a 24-pound cannonball that rolled back and forth like a cannonball normally wouldn't move. It's believed there is at least one ghost on this ship by the name of Neil Harvey. Neil was unfortunate enough to fall asleep during his watch, so the commodore at the time defined the term "overkill" when he ordered Neil to be stabbed, fastened over a cannon and subsequently blown apart. Crew and visitors alike would feel as if they were being watched or followed. The USS Constitution was investigated by the TAPS team on Ghost Hunters who also felt as if they were being watched. Whether this is paranormal or paranoia is for you to determine. Either way, a ship like this doesn't come without a haunted past.

William A. Irvin Museum

Photo Credit: Explore Minnesota

The William A. Irvin was one of four ships built for the use of U.S. Steel to transport both iron ore and dignitaries across the Great Lakes. The ship was built by the American Ship Building Company in Ohio in 1937 and and named by Vice President of U.S. Steel William Irvin's wife, Gertrude; it is not recorded if she just didn't think The Gertrude was a good enough name for a freighter or she was sucking up to her husband. It was built with an extra deck to accommodate travelers with four cabins and a lounge, all of which were fashioned with oak panes and brass trimmings which extended to various parts of the ship. In 1940, the William A. Irvin set a seemingly unbreakable record of unloading 13,856 tons of iron ore in less than three hours; this is essentially an unbreakable record because nearly all ships now have an automatic self unloading system.
You may be wondering how a U.S. Steel transport ship that also entertained high class guests along the Great Lakes has paranormal cargo, as well. There have been multiple full-bodied apparitions and inexplicable shadows witnessed on the ship; however, there is only one recorded fatality on the ship. In 1964, William Wuori was with two fellow seamen when he was scalded to death as "a boiler tube broke...[w]ater from the tube sprayed on the boiler and exploded into steam" (Duluth News Tribune, 1964). Although Mr. Wuori has not been identified on EVP's, several paranromal investigation groups have recorded other male and female entities. When the ship was open, it served as a Halloween attraction, so who knows if the unexplained noises and objects were part of the show or were the spirits letting visitors know they were still there. Either way, the majority paranormal investigators agree the William A. Irvin is haunted by several different spirits, including a captain, a woman in white and someone named "Timothy."

Ledge Lighthouse

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Built on a man-made island, the New London Ledge Lighthouse was built in 1909 to guide increasing traffic in the New London Harbor. It was originally called the Southwest Ledge, but was renamed the New London Ledge Light in order to avoid confusion with another lighthouse of the same name. It wasn't manned by lightkeepers for very long as it was fully automated in 1987, but in the whole history of the Ledge Lighthouse, there has been reports of doors opening and closing by themselves, boats unmooring without aid, bedsheets flying off beds and the fog horn sounding of its own accord, any many other inexplicable disturbances.
The scapegoat for all of the spiritual activity is a man named Ernie. It's unclear if he ever did exist, but that doesn't matter to the locals. Ernie's wife unfortunately ran off with the captain of the Block Island Ferry, so grief-stricken Ernie apparently decided to jump off the ledge of the lighthouse. Even today, if any visitors hear whispers or feel cold spots, it's blamed on Ernie whom it would seem has made the Ledge Lighthouse his afterlife home.

St. Augustine Lighthouse
st. augustine lighthouse

Photo Credit: St. Augustine

St. Augustine is the site of the oldest permanent lighthouse in North America, though it was originally a Spanish watchtower before it became the St. Augustine Lighthouse in 1874. Construction began three years prior, and it was at this time that the lighthouse gained its first ghostly residents. The children of the then-superintendent of construction were playing on a cart along the tracks the workers used to move supplies from the beach to the construction site. By the time workers were able to free them, the two oldest children had already drowned, including an African American girl who was playing with them, but who remained unnamed in the newspaper article reporting the deadly accident.
It could be that the children are still playing in the lighthouse during tours, as one tour guide reported having their ankle grabbed and hairs plucked off their arms in the basement of the keeper's house. Another possible spirit that has made the lighthouse their eternal residence is the ghost of Joseph Andreu, a light keeper who in 1859 fell off the scaffolding while painting the tower. While you walk up the 219 steps to the top, maybe you'll see shadows of small figures darting among the crowd to the very top where the original Fresnel lens still sets. Voices and strange noises have also been reported by The Atlantic Paranormal Society (T.A.P.S.) on their show, Ghost Hunters, as well as shadow figures moving up in the lighthouse.

Tybee Island Light Station & Museum

Photo Credit: Tybee Island

The Tybee Island Lighthouse was first constructed in 1736, in order to safely guide seamen into the mouth of the Savannah River. At the time, it was the tallest structure in the United States at 90 feet high. Unfortunately, within five years of its construction, the striking bands around the Tybee Lighthouse that made it stand out from the shore, or the daymark, had been worn away by storms and had to be reconstructed. While the second daymark was being constructed, the original had been swept away entirely. The Tybee Island Lighthouse had to be reconstructed again in 1773 due to erosion and rising tides; the base of this third tower still stands today, making this one of the most intact light stations in the United States. It was damaged yet again in 1861, this time by Confederate forces who hoped to sabotage the incoming Union army by stealing the Fresnel lenses from the lighthouse. It may just be a coincidence that visitors to the lighthouse have reported seeing a little girl who warns them to not go up the lighthouse steps, which are exactly what the Confederate soldiers set fire to before they fled to For Pulaski. However, she could also be the victim of the cholera outbreak shortly after the end of the Civil War. During the Reconstruction period, the federal government worked to repair the lighthouse, eventually reinforcing it with metal and stone after a hurricane nearly decimated the lighthouse. Similar to the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, shadow people are regularly seen among the dunes of Tybee Beach, in addition to the form of a man who looks like a light keeper.

Owls Head Lighthouse
owls head

Photo Credit: Scenic USA

John Quincy Adams approved a lighthouse, which would later be called Owls Head Lighthouse, be constructed in 1825 on Bedabedec Point. This was because of the growing lime trade in that area of Maine, not due to safety reasons since this point is 100 feet above sea level. It's generally accepted the town and lighthouse received the name Owls Head from sailors who traveled by who noticed the highly extended rock formations that resembled the head and neck of an owl. In December, 1850, a schooner had run aground on the rocks below Owls Head Lighthouse and most of the crew were found in basically blocks of ice. Astonishingly, a betrothed couple on board were revived after hours of thawing and exercising limbs in the kitchen of the keeper's house. One of the more famouse keepers of the lighthouse was actually the pet of a keeper who started in 1930. Spot the Springer Spaniel learned to ring the fog bell for every approaching ship and every time the vessel acknowledged with a ring or whistle, Spot would bark back. It was Spot's barking, since the rope to ring the bell was buried in snow, that warned a ship's captain before his ship ran aground. Spot is allegedly buried by Owls Head Lighthouse in an unmarked grave.
There are no reports of phantom puppies at the lighthouse; however, it is haunted by a woman known as the Little Lady, who is most often seen in the kitchen. It is in the kitchen the silverware will rattle and doors will slam on their own, which is all blamed on the Little Lady. There is another ghost of a sea captain who has been seen by previous keepers and phantom footsteps have also been seen around the lighthouse. This ghost allegedly befriended a young girl of a past light keeper who woke her parents up one night to report, "'Fog's rolling in! Time to put the foghorn on!'" Not only does the old captain watch out for present day seamen, but also those residing in the lighthouse as he is notorious for lowering the temperature on the thermostat and possibly polishing the brass.

Wood Island Lighthouse
wood island

Photo Credit: American Lighthouse Foundation

It was in 1808 that the Wood Island Lighthouse to aid ships coming into Winter Harbor and to the Saco River was built. It was a 45 foot beacon made, shockingly, of wood, along with a wood house for its lightkeeper. It only took until 1835 to plan for a new structure made of granite after years of salt water and harsh weather basically destroyed the original lighthouse. The lightkeeper would also typically work as a farmer during the day while maintaining the lighthouse by night, which may explain how ships still ran aground. In 1865, Keeper Eben Emerson rescued seamen and two guinea pigs from the wrecked Edyth Ann; the only fatality was the Nova Scotia brig herself. Over the years, the lighthouse would go through some renovations, even losing its "head" (aka. the lantern room) in the 1960's and having it be replaced with a rotating aero beacon.
Despite the turbulent weather that claimed ships like the Edyth Ann, the history of the Wood Island Lighthouse is fairly calm...except for the murder/suicide that occurred on the island in the late 1800's. It was a heated disagreement over late rent of Howard Hobbs for a chicken coop shack from Frederick Milliken. According to the article in the Biddeford Daily Journal, "rum, and some slight difficulty on account of Hobbs’ failure to pay his house rent" contributed to Hobbs fatally shooting Milliken. After Milliken died, Hobbs shot himself in the keeper's house after reporting what had transpired to Keeper Thomas Orcutt, rather than turn himself into the police. The keeper Charles Burke, who served after Orcutt, allegedly was so spooked by what he believed were ghosts that in 1905 he fled the lighthouse and stayed in a boarding house; legend states he jumped out the window the next day, but records show he served as keeper of Wood Island Lighthouse until 1914. However, this does not discount the fact that there are numerous reports of shadowy figures in and around the lighthouse, doors violently opening on their own, sounds of gunshots and disembodied moaning. Paranormal investigators have also been able to record EVP's and have brought in mediums who have apparently been able to contact Hobbs and Milliken.

Cape May Lighthouse
cape may

Photo Credit: Cape May

The present day Cape May Lighthouse you visit is the third lighthouse to be built to light the way into the northernmost entrance to the Delaware Bay. The first documented lighthouse was built in 1823, but lasted just over 20 years before the sea's high tide claimed the land it sat on. The second lighthouse built on Cape May lasted roughly a decade before the final lighthouse was constructed as it was apparently poorly built. Construction began in 1857 and cost $40,000 (roughly $1,180,501 in 2019), not counting the first order Fresnel lens, which are estimated to have cost about $15,000. Coincidentally, the current lighthouse was first lit on Halloween, 1859, and eventually was operated by three light keepers. In 1939, ownership of the lighthouse was transferred to the U.S. Coast Guard; two years later, all lighthouses along the Atlantic coast was on a blackout until 1945 due to the threat of enemy submarines.
Though historical records support that the first lighthouse was first built in the beginning of the 19th century; however, there is documentation showing the English government's intention to build a lighthouse on Cape May as early as 1785 and an advertisement in the Philadelphia Aurora in 1801 praising the views of "[the] Delaware Bay with the ocean, in sight of the Lighthouse, and affords a view of the shipping which enters and leaves the Delaware Bay" (, 2001). The possibility of a lighthouse before the series built by the American government may explain the sightings of a woman holding a child in one hand and a lantern in the other at the top of the 199-step lighthouse. There are also reports of another spirit who still resides at the lighthouse who jumped off the tower in 1995, though this death cannot be confirmed.

For your unfinished business regarding haunted ships, embark at your own peril...
USS Constellation, Baltimore, MD
USCGC Taney, Baltimore, MD
USS North Carolina, Wilmington, NC

For your unfinished business regarding haunted lighthouses, step right up to...
Alcatraz Island, San Francisco, CA
Point Lookout Lighthouse, Lexington Park, MD
Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, Buxton, NC
Currituck Beach Lighthouse, Corolla, NC
Assateague Lighthouse, Chincoteague Island, VA

Report to thar Cap'n Gordo Lantern to Return From Whence Ye Came!