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A Very Haunted Ship

October 2001

Hello. Before you read this, I have to say that it is quite long, but there is a lot to tell here. I beg your patience. None of this is scary, just weird.

I was the first assistant to the Curator for a Naval Museum that was on board a decommissioned Aircraft Carrier that had been turned into a tourist attraction/museum on the coast of Texas, USA. It was an artifact from WWII as the last operating Essex-class carrier, and was still used by the U.S. Navy as a training carrier until 1992. During the war, it had many deaths due to a Kamikaze hit, and two torpedos. It had some service in Korea also. There were also a few plane crashes on the flight deck during training exercises. Not only that, but as any seaman would know, ships are really dangerous craft in their own way, and many non-battle deaths occur even in peacetime from all sorts of accidents. And after a 50 year career of active duty, there is no telling how many people might have lost their lives aboard this ship. I was hired on several months before we even opened up to the public as a museum.

Anyway, I was never in the Navy, and had never been on a ship before I was employed there. This thing is amazing, 910' long on the flight deck, and 16 decks from the island to the holds at the bottom. Housed up to 2,500 personel and had close to 1100 compartments of various forms throughout. A tribute to shipbuilding indeed for it's day. Now it is considered miniscule compared with the modern ones!

Although I have had very strange experiences in my life, I had never met a ghost before I got there.

A lot of very strange things were always happening to me and many others that worked there. It was a given among us that things like that happened. Unlike others, my job took me to all parts of the ship, and at all hours of the day and night. I was single, had nothing better to do, and just always stayed on the ship to escape the crummy place that I lived at on the beach. I was there way too much actually. But was allowed to do so, as I had a lot of duties and responsibilities there. To preface some of this, I would like to tell you, that on any naval ship that is static, in mothballs, and dead basically, there is NO wind below decks. Only ventilation from the internal systems, and we mostly did not have that for the first two years of operations. They definitely creak and groan from the expansion and contraction from the metal during day and night, but this does not adequately explain very many things.

A few of the things that happened to me:

The first strange thing that I noticed was that I dreamed of this place every single night for a year and a half. I remember my dreams well, and this ship was always in them, and I still get these crazy dreams about it from time to time.

12:00 noon on some Saturday, I was the ONLY employee anywhere below decks. I happened to be working in my office on the deck below the hangar deck (where they store the aircraft), and left to go down the passageway to the quarterdeck (our reception area kind of, and even with the hangar deck), when I hear a tremendous rattling, and finally noticed after looking around, that what was happening was that a heavy sliding metal door in front of me across the bulkhead ,was slamming violently back and forth at a very high rate of speed! I stared in disbelief for several seconds, and then I said, "Hello!?" It immediately stopped. I asked again "Hello!?". Nothing.

This unnerved me a bit due to surprise, so I ran no more than 20 feet to the ladder to the quarterdeck and grabbed a DC guy (damage control, kind of like a security guard) and told him there was someone in this space and could he check it out? So, I was not gone more than one minute from this; until I returned with him, and he went down into this space with his flashlight, (an old radio-control room that went down two decks, and had only the metal door for an entrance or an exit) and of course, no one was there, nor could they have gone down the passageway to another ladder in that amount of time to not be seen. Strange. Everybody wanted to give me random drug testing after that day, but I got the last laugh when months later, all the skeptics started turning white as sheets, and telling even stranger tales.

Another time I was told to bring down a table from the aft crew quarters to put in one of the Gun Galleries for an outside "employee lounge" table. Well, everything on a ship is bolted down pretty much, and since that half of the ship had not had power run to it yet, it was pitch-black dark where I was trying to get this table from with the tools I had brought along with a good flashlight. I am there unbolting and disassembling this thing, when I hear the familiar footsteps of someone in hard-heeled military shoes walking up the passageway right next to me. I froze, and listened. What was really unusual, (and this happened all the time to us), was that whoever was walking, never broke their cadence when they reached a combing of a hatch, but sounded just like they walked through it. A hatch is above the floor by about 18 inches, and you have to pause ever so slightly to step over the combing (or sill I guess) on your way down the passageway. This person never did, and didn't have a flashlight, but walked a long ways down the passageway till the sound faded. No one could have walked in absolute darkness like that for so long without running into something! On top of that, what was stunning to me, was the fact that the air moved from this person walking past the open hatch I was next to. I could feel it very well. Wave your hand in front of your face. Feel the air? It was just as if it was a physical person, but they never responded to my hellos, walked in the dark without a flashlight, and did not step over the combings.

This phenomenon happened quite frequently when I would be alone, and hear someone with hard heeled shoes walk past the door, and of course, no one would be there, and every one above decks would deny that they even were down there. Plus, all of us wore soft soled tennis shoes to work as they were better on the slick steel floors on dewy days. I had another witness to one of these incidents, and it scared her so bad that she would never again work after hours. We compared notes as neither of us believed ourselves. But this turned out to be more common than even I realized later.

A space that we made an office for the accountant and had the photocopier and fax machine and was adjacent to my office, had several old, rolling military office chairs in it. Well, like clockwork, as soon as the accountant and her assistant left for the day, me and the woman across the hall could hear them creaking as if people were sitting down, and then getting up often, and rolling across the floor but with weight in them. It's a distinctive noise, and it happened too often to not mistake it. I was never brave enough to walk in there while they were doing this, but they always did it after everyone had left. I worked many a Saturday and Sunday there, and they would then do it in the daytime also on those days.

I was evicted from my horrible little apartment on the beach one day, and had no where else to go, and no money or time to get another place or a hotel room so I asked the assistant XO if I could live on the ship for awhile. He said sure! I put some things in storage somewhere, and they gave me the "Air Boss's" Cabin. The air boss was the person who directed all the flight operations on the ship. Man, it was crude, but better than where I came from, and since it was only 30 feet away from my office, I was never late for work! It was also a palace compared to the enlisted men's quarters, or even the flight Lieutenants'. Had a bathroom with a shower and a decent bunk, and I had a pretty decent sleeping bag. I got along famously. I didn't have cooking facilities, so I ate out on the beach, or cold food out of cans, but I got along well. All I did, was work at whatever I needed to do during the day, and wander around in the evening, and then go to sleep in my cabin. I lived there for about 3 weeks until I could rent another place.

Remember, I was absolutely the only living person on board this huge aircraft carrier. We had a security guard on the quarterdeck at night which the pier led to, and locked gates after hours, and had an electronic security system at the entry way, which was high-tech for the time.

This is the fun part!

Since the very first night I was there, I locked the door of my cabin, and didn't come out until working time in the morning. It didn't bother me when I didn't live there, but now I had reason to wonder about things.

Once again, like clockwork, I would be woken in the wee hours of the morning to armoured hatches dropping from deep inside the ship somewhere. Next morning, none of the (overhead) hatches I could tell were closed anywhere on the ship, because I went everywhere that I knew of. These things weigh close to 800 lbs. or more in some cases, and winches are used to lift them. But they sure make a sound when they drop! That happened every night, and it would wake me up. The Security guards would never hear them, so I guess that it was just me.

The other thing that would happen was that I would hear two men having a loud discussion just down the passageway every morning at about 4:10 am. Every morning. I never, ever could understand them, but could definitely hear them. It didn't sound angry, but just loud and animated. I wish I would have been brave enough to step out of the cabin to hear better, but I never did. Just went back to sleep when I could, and waited for the next night when the same thing would happen. Ha! I would always hear these indistinct voices a ways aways yelling something from somewhere, but never identified where from.

When I wasn't busy with something else, I would give assistance to the ship's mechanic/locksmith. I personally was there when we put in screws on the backside of the doors to the captain's galley. He (the captain) didn't eat in the officer's mess, but had his own cook, and we secured this kitchen on the 02 or Gallery Deck very well with screws, and disabled the lock as it was on the tour route, and we didn't want people getting in there. I did the doors myself, and it was sealed well from anyone! Well lo and behold two weeks later we get a massive stream of water coming onto the hangar deck that they store all the aircraft below, and we trace it back to this galley. I secured it so well that we had to kick in the doors, only to find that a tap for a service sink had been opened up and ran over and flooded everything, and went to the lowest gravity point. Well, it wasn't running when I sealed the doors, but when we got up there, it took a pipe wrench to shut it off! Salt-water air tends to rust things, and after a few years of neglect, this tap was corroded entirely. It would have been just as difficult to turn the handle on as it was to turn it off with a sturdy pipe-wrench! Or that's my opinion anyway.

So, there were many other things that happened to me for quite a while after I moved off of there, and I got frustrated, so one night, I went to "D.C. central". This is in the very bottom of the ship, and was like a very protected communications center exactly mid-ship and about 15th deck. I went down there one morning about 1:00 am. I figured at the time that something would be hanging out around there, as it was the nerve center of the ship, and and it's guardian place for communications. Anyway, I was all alone and spoke aloud to whatever, that I wished to be left alone as even though they were not malicious but only amusing, still, I had other problems in my life at the time to contend with, and would they please leave me alone?

Well, guess what? I was there for another full year, and never experienced another thing since. So, I truly believe they were both intelligent and courteous. I never did any harm to anything or anyone while I was there, and I think that they realized that and just wanted me to be aware of their presence. They were most kind really. I could have just dropped dead from fright had I experienced what some others did.

All that I have said here is honest and sincere. Thank you so much for reading

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