4 Haunted Shipyards for Scary Nautical Encounters

Updated July 15, 2021
Mare Island Shipyard

Just about anyplace can be haunted, and a shipyard is no different. Haunted shipyards may have ghosts associated with the ships that have been there, or the ghosts may be spirits of the people who worked there and possibly even died there. If you love ships and ghosts, perhaps it's time to visit a haunted shipyard.

Mare Island Naval Shipyard

The Mare Island Naval Shipyard in Vallejo, California was established during the 1850s. It was home to the construction of Navy vessels. In 1996, the shipyard was decommissioned. Many witnesses share ghost tales about the shipyard. This has made it a popular place for ghost hunters, who have captured electronic voice phenomena and experienced ghost lights.

Mare Island Naval Shipyard

Want to experience it for yourself? Take the Blue and Gold Fleet Ferry at the San Francisco Pier 39 or drive via one of the bridges to get to Mare Island. This is a very active community is supported by a Visitors Center and the Vallejo Naval & Historical Museum (1100 Railroad Ave).

Maritime Museum of San Diego

Located on San Diego's Embarcadero, the Maritime Museum of San Diego is home to a number of historic ships, many with equally historic haunts. The museum is open to the public, and a $10 admission will get you access to all of the vessels that are permanently exhibited here, giving you plenty of opportunity to rub elbows with ghosts. Many of the vessels are meticulously restored, but that hasn't kept the ghosts from roaming their old seafaring haunts.

Maritime Museum of San Diego

You'll find plenty of haunted vessels here, including the steam ferry Berkeley, which is an ornate turn-of-the-century boat that carried survivors to safety after the Great San Francisco earthquake. People report seeing apparitions of a woman in old timey clothing in the upper gallery of the boat. Another well-known haunt is the sailing ship, Star of India, which is the world's oldest active sailing ship. She saw the death of her captain onboard and also experienced plenty of other death and hardships at sea, and the spirits of those that spent time on the ship remain. Onboard, you'll hear voices, the sounds of the men working on the ship, and phantom footsteps. People have reported strange encounters on the museum's other vessels as well, so it's well worth a visit.

Charleston Naval Shipyard

Boardwalk Charleston Naval Base Memorial

North Charleston Naval Shipyard operated from 1901 to 1996. Originally a Navy Yard, it later became a Naval Base simply known as the Charleston Naval Base. Many of the former areas of the base as well as the dry-docks are leased to private businesses and government agencies. There are some areas of the old base that have been turned into community parks. The apparition of a young slave girl has been reported hiding behind a group of trees at the Charleston Naval Base. You can visit the Charleston Naval Base Memorial and Riverfront Park, but stay out of any abandoned shipyard spaces.

US Naval Shipyard of Norfolk

This massive complex is said to be haunted by various spirits from a range of historical periods. In the book, The Spectral Tide: True Ghost Stories of the U.S. Navy, author Eric Mills writes about the ghosts haunting the US Naval Shipyard at Norfolk, VA. Mills describes the large shipyard complex and the first dry dock built in 1767. The dry dock includes multiple buildings constructed from old sailing ship timbers. The author speculates that many of the spirits reported in this area are still connected to the timbers taken from their ships.

US Naval Shipyard of Norfolk

These ghosts include:

  • John Paul: Named after the famous John Paul Jones, this ghost is the most prominent. It appears very vividly wearing 18th-century attire. In 1918, a sailor witnessed the specter. Frantic to escape, the sailor fell and broke one of his legs.
  • OCD ghost: This ghost is said to have a compulsion to rearrange the keys on the pegboard near the door.
  • Other manifestations: Witnesses report seeing flickering lights in the area known as the sail-making loft, white blobs floating about, disembodied eerie voices and the sound of sewing machines.
  • Three British soldiers: The soldiers are believed from the Revolutionary War or possibly the War of 112. The three soldiers appeared in 1971 when their graves were disturbed. They've been seen at Dry Docks 1 and 2 ever since.

While this is a naval shipyard and not open to the public for paranormal investigations, you can take a guided tour of the shipyard.

Ghosts of Haunted Shipyards

There are a number of haunted ships and shipyards, many that you can visit. So if you're a fan of maritime history and the paranormal, these can definitely fulfill both interests.

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4 Haunted Shipyards for Scary Nautical Encounters