For divers exploring the depths of the world’s oceans, the water can be a frightening place. In low visibility, for example, hulking shapes may appear out of nowhere, emerging ominously from the murky sea. Add in strange sounds echoing in the distance or unusual creatures swimming silently past, and it’s not hard to imagine individuals getting lost and disorientated under the waves, experiencing as a result a rising panic.
Image: Laiduan uk
With this in mind, it might be easy to write off divers’ spooky tales of weird underwater happenings as boiling down simply to sensory deprivation. However, the following incredible shipwrecks – all reported to be haunted – certainly suggest that there are other more sinister forces at work in the deep.
10. Fujikawa Maru and Hoki Maru
While many shipwrecks sit alone and forlorn at the bottom of the sea, Japanese wrecks the Fujikawa Maru and the Hoki Maru keep some morbid company together. The two ships were part of a fleet of around 60 vessels that were sunk by U.S. planes and other attack craft in February 1944 during WWII, and both vessels, it is said, have played home to ghostly goings-on.
Image: YouTube/Michael Gerken
Now to be found at the bottom of Truk Lagoon in the Central Pacific, the pair of ships once formed part of the most forbidding Japanese stronghold in that stretch of ocean. Today, divers brave dangerous waters to explore the atmospheric remains of the vessels, but sharks aren’t all there is to worry about. Previous visitors to the Fujikawa Maru, for example, have reported the sound of machinery in operation. And while filming in the wreck of the Hoki Maru, investigators from American TV show Destination Truth picked up a recording apparently of engines turning over.
9. USAT Liberty
Unlike many of the shipwrecks featured on this list, the USAT Liberty may be haunted not simply by the spirits of the dead but by a strange and unidentifiable energy source. The United States Army vessel was in Bali’s Lombok Strait in January 1942 when a hit from a Japanese torpedo abruptly ended her military career. After being towed to a beach on Bali, the ship was unloaded and apparently left to rot – that is, until the eruption of Mount Agung in 1963.
Pushed back out to sea by the effects of the eruption, the Liberty sank beneath the waves, where she remains today in ten to 95 feet of water. What’s more, anyone visiting the vessel now should look out for the rapidly approaching ghostly object that some divers have experienced – perhaps, it is said, an apparition of the torpedo that originally felled the craft during World War II.
Image: Ken Marschall
8. S.S. Andrea Doria
The wreck of the S.S. Andrea Doria has come to be known as the “Mount Everest of scuba diving.” This is partly down to its formidable location 180 feet under the waves, but it’s also because a number of people have met their end while attempting to conquer it. Those lost lives add to the tragedy associated with the vessel, and such morbid history perhaps explains some of the wreck’s haunted happenings.
Image: YouTube/Jeff Godfrey
The luxury ocean liner keeled over in the Atlantic after a collision with another vessel in 1956. And although the Andrea Doria was initially equipped with enough lifeboats to save her passengers and crew, the sharp listing of the ship meant that only some of the smaller emergency craft could be used – leaving just over 1,000 spaces in the boats for the more than 1,700 people on board. Moreover, while – rather incredibly – all the survivors were saved, 46 died in the nautical crash. Perhaps it’s the spirits of these unfortunate individuals that are responsible for the odd movements glimpsed by divers as well as the ghostly sensation of being touched while passing the wreck underwater.
7. S.S. Mohegan
The English county of Cornwall is a place steeped in myth and legend, but the wreck of the S.S. Mohegan off the Lizard Peninsula is nevertheless among the area’s spookier relics. Divers claim to have experienced a strange sensation akin to an electric shock when coming into contact with the ruined steamer; one group has even said that something guided them to reach a skeleton secreted within the ship.
But perhaps the circumstances of the Mohegan’s sinking are stranger still. While en route from London to New York in October 1898, the ship veered wildly off course toward the Cornish coastline. And unable to avoid a collision, she wrecked on the dangerous rocks of The Manacles, resulting in the loss of 106 lives. Amid the chaos, though, one rescuer claimed to spot a mystery man hopping off a lifeboat before disappearing inland. Speculation mounted that this person was in fact the captain – who, it was supposed, had deliberately sunk the steamer for an insurance gain.
6. S.S. Kamloops
The S.S. Kamloops boasts a rather macabre relic within her wrecked interior: the conserved body of a sailor entombed there to this day. Nicknamed Grandpa, or Whitey, by locals, the unfortunate soul was one of 22 crew who lost their lives when the freighter went down in a storm on Lake Superior in December 1927.
For nearly half a century the ship remained gone without a trace – until 1977, that is, when her remains were discovered below in excess of 270 feet of water near Isle Royale, Michigan. What’s more, kept incredibly intact most likely by the preservative properties of ice-cold water, the body in the engine room is said to have the unsettling habit of moving around of its own accord.
Not all haunted shipwrecks are the result of tragedies at sea. And while the Alkimos met a relatively prosaic end by running aground near to Fremantle, Australia, her checkered past has led many to believe that the ship is jinxed – and that ghosts haunt her now-wrecked body.
The Alkimos was constructed at speed during a ten-day period in World War II. Sinisterly, it’s held that freak welding accidents caused workers to become encased within the ship’s hull and, moreover, that their spirits still roam the vessel. An enigmatic apparition nicknamed Harry – the victim of an alleged murder-suicide – is said to haunt the Alkimos, too, and the vessel herself even once mysteriously steered to a designated port with no crew on board.
4. S.S. Emperor
Another Great Lakes victim, the S.S. Emperor ran aground in the early hours of June 4, 1947 close to Lake Superior’s Isle Royale. And since divers exploring the site of the wreck have reported several incidents of strange phenomena over the years, the ruined vessel now has a rather sinister reputation.
One diver, for example, claimed to have seen the ghost of one of the Emperor’s perished crew still at work on the ship’s ravaged equipment with “dark pools of nothing” in place of eyes. Others investigating the site, meanwhile, have reported hearing the noises of engines or, alternatively, a threatening voice uttering the word “die.”
Image: Youtube/Teddy Garlock
3. St. Peter
Early one late October morning in 1898, the St. Peter encountered a tumultuous storm on Lake Ontario while delivering a shipment of coal from Oswego, New York to Toledo, Ohio. The schooner’s crew attempted to survive for 12 hours in the face of 70 mph gusts and 20-foot waves, but it was to virtually no avail. Rescuers eventually arrived to find a sole survivor, the boat’s captain, desperately clinging to the doomed vessel’s mast.
Image: Youtube/Tyler Baldino
However, legend has it that Captain Griffin was not alone while latching onto the broken craft. Some say that his wife Martha was there, too, but that she drowned moments before her husband was rescued – and that her spirit still haunts the wreck today. Meanwhile, divers have reported unusually rough conditions and difficulties around the area where the sunken boat is to be found, and locals have claimed that Martha’s ghost appears every year on the anniversary of her death.
2. S.S. Thistlegorm
Out of the countless wrecks around the world that were created by World War II, the S.S. Thistlegorm’s is possibly one of the best known. It is famous both for its detection by Jacques Cousteau in 1952 and – with its remarkably intact cargo of trucks, motorcycles and locomotives – for its appeal as a diving site. Adding to the wreck’s notoriety, though, are reports of a number of strange occurrences at its location.
Image: Matt Kieffer
The armed Merchant Navy ship was en route to Alexandria in Egypt from Glasgow in the U.K. in October 1941 when she was bombed by German aircraft. She sank in the Strait of Gubal in the Northern Red Sea with the loss of nine lives – a tragedy that could explain the odd experiences reported by divers exploring the wreckage. For example, it is said that the sound of running machinery can be heard coming from the Thistlegorm and that dark apparitions may be seen flitting about her remains.
1. RMS Rhone
Of all the haunted shipwreck tales featured here, the revelations surrounding the RMS Rhone’s remains are perhaps the most disturbing. While heading for the Caribbean in 1867, the U.K. Royal Mail ship hit a hurricane off Salt Island in the British Virgin Islands, with the natural disaster wrecking and sinking the vessel. The result was the loss of between 127 and 277 lives – and, if the tales of visiting divers are to be believed, some of the victims still haunt the site today.
The story of the Rhone’s sinking becomes even more disturbing upon discovering the fact that an unidentified amount of people from another ship were transferred to the ill-fated vessel not long before the hurricane took hold. Furthermore, passengers were apparently tied to their bunks to protect them during the storm. Could the final terrified moments of these unfortunate souls be the source of the mysterious groans and shrieks supposedly to be heard coming from the wreck? Perhaps, too, they’re the cause of the tapping sensations that cause divers to turn around only to find that there’s no one there.