Ghost ships really do exist — or, at least, ships with ghosts do. From the USS Constitution to the Star of India, here are nine haunted ships you can visit — some allowing overnight trips — if you dare.
1. USS Constitution
One of the nation’s six original naval ships, the USS Constitution earned its nickname, “Old Ironsides” for its heroic actions during the War of 1812. Today, the three-masted frigate is docked along Boston’s Freedom Trail next to the USS Constitution Museum. Crewmembers who sail it on special occasions claim that objects roll across the deck for no apparent reason, including a 24-pound cannonball. They also feel presences attributed to soldiers who died in her service.
2. USS Constellation
Also one of the original six naval ships, the USS Constellation has had a bloody past that includes the death of seaman Neil Harvey, killed for falling asleep on duty. Harvey is said to be mistaken for a costumed tour guide by visitors to Pier 1 at the Historic Ships in Baltimore. People also report hearing the screams of a boy who was stabbed by two sailors on the ship in 1822.
3. Star of India
Built in 1863, this tall ship has several ghosts, including a young stowaway who was put to work, then slipped and fell to his death. Visitors to the Maritime Museum of San Diego have experienced cold spots where he reportedly hit the deck, and paranormal investigators have recorded several electronic voice phenomena (EVPs) on board. The Steam Ferry Berkeley, which is also part of the museum, is also supposedly haunted by an injured crewmember.
4. USS Hornet
Considered one of the most haunted ships open for tours, this World War II-era aircraft carrier operates today as the USS Hornet Museum. Staff and visitors claim to see vanishing bloodstains and apparitions, including a sailor in dress whites. Often, photographs taken in the infirmary reveal shadowy figures lying in the beds, and people routinely hear the voices of men talking as well as footsteps. You can participate in after-hour paranormal investigation tours on the USS Hornet and, if you’re brave enough, even spend the night on board.
5. SS William A. Irvin
Once the flagship of the U.S. Steel’s Great Lakes Fleet, this 610-foot vessel carried iron ore and coal for nearly 40 years on lakes Superior, Erie, and Michigan. It’s reputed to be haunted by former crewmembers, including an unfortunate soul killed in a boiler room accident. You can take a guided 60-minute tour May through September, and in October, the SS William A. Irvin opens to the public for a self-guided haunted tour.
6. RMS Queen Mary
At least 49 people died on board the RMS Queen Mary when it served as a Cunard passenger liner — not to mention those who died when it served as a troop transport ship during World War II — so it’s no wonder it was named “one of the top 10 most haunted places in America” by Time Magazine. People report hearing children in the nursery and seeing the ghost of a young sailor who died in the engine room. The ship, which operates as both a museum and hotel, offers paranormal tours throughout the year.
7. Belle of Louisville
Owned and operated by the City of Louisville, this historic steamboat treats visitors to lunch, dinner, and sightseeing cruises. It may also serve up a healthy portion of the paranormal. Some people claim to see stoic Captain Ben Winters on board or hear “Floyd the Deckhand” whistling a tune in the engine room.
8. USS Lexington
Nicknamed “the Blue Ghost” because the Japanese navy reported sinking it four times during World War II, this aircraft carrier can now rightfully call itself a ghost ship thanks to any number of spirits said to haunt it. Most famous, though, is Charly, a fair-haired, polite sailor who often gives tours of the engine room. Staff and visitors to the USS Lexington Museum in Corpus Christi, Texas, have also spotted at least two other sailors and a Japanese pilot.
9. USS Yorktown
One hundred forty-one men lost their lives while serving on the USS Yorktown from 1943 to 1974, and many believe that some of those men have never left. Sightings have tracked shadowy figures, including one named “Shadow Ed” and full body apparitions in uniform. People also hear footsteps, mysterious voices, and pans being tossed in the gallery. Yorktown Ghost Tours offers paranormal tours of the ship.