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Unexplained Cases| Haunted Ships In Baltimore

Written by: Darren Dedo
Case Filed: 11/30/19 - Baltimore, Maryland
Executive Producer: Rick Garner


She is an incredible sight to see tied up to Pier One in Baltimore Harbor - the USS Constellation. Many believe the ship is haunted. We will get to the ghosts in a minute - but, first we need a history lesson. 

The USS Constellation was born in 1854 - constructed from materials that were salvaged from the frigate USS Constellation - which sailed the seas in the late 1700s to early 1800s. This new version of the majestic ship stretches 199 feet long, 43 feet across. 

The Constellation was armed with 16 cannons and more than a dozen large pounder-mounted guns that could sink an enemy vessel on command from the Captain. The first captain of the Constellation, Captain Charles H. Bell. 

Boat Historian James Fulwiler shares, "Most famous for being the last sail-powered and all wood warship ever commissioned by the U.S. Navy. That’s in 1855, she entered service. All sail-powered all wooden means she wasn’t a very effective warship for very long. You still put her to use in blockade squadrons for the first few years of her life.That was her big service when she was still really in active service.”

The next person in charge of the Constellation - Captain Thomas Dornin. The ship took on an important role in the waters off Africa. 

Fulwiler explains, “We’re most proud of her service, we also like to say, she worked in our African squadron from 1859 to1861. While we still had slavery in the country until 1865, it is illegal to participate in the transatlantic slave trade agreed by us and Great Britain at that time. So, we are off the coast of West Africa with British and French ships...we are just looking for slavers coming out of the Congo river, capture their ships, and return the captives to the continent. That goes until the outbreak of the Civil War.”

Then, Captain Henry Thatcher took over the helm of the Constellation. After the Civil War, she is a part of a Mediterranean blockade to keep the Southern States from trading with Europe. 

Soon after, the Constellation's days of fighting on the ocean were done. 

“She is more less a training vessel up until World War II," shares Fulwiler. "That’s actually the very last time she has any kind of significant role in the Navy. During that time, while she is up in Rode Island - at that time at a different Naval Training facility -  she is made the Vice Flagship of the Atlantic Fleet. Even though she is not going out to line, there were enough high ranking admirals and officers in the Navy that were serving aboard here as sort of a strategic headquarters. And, it was considered for a brief time the full flagship and for the fest of the war the vice flagship for the Atlantic Fleet. That wraps up in 1945.”

The Constellation ends up here in Baltimore harbor as a museum. Supposedly she has some ghostly sailors who are still aboard.

“So, we run overnights with Boy Scouts on the weekend and we wake them up around 6 AM. They’ve all been staying in the hammocks down here. So, a few months back last summer, my girlfriend at the time is coming down to turn on the electrical room over there to wake up the scouts in the morning. When she comes down those stairs, she is seeing a hazy light out of the corner of her eye in this general area of the hammocks. She looks towards it; the light goes away as she looks towards it. But she does see one hammock still swaying in the middle. One of the hammocks that didn’t currently have anyone sleeping in it. All the other ones that had people sleeping in them were dead still. She very promptly ran up to the top deck and did not see anything else. She did not waste any time getting up there.”

To find out if this grand old ship was really haunted - the Unexplained Cases team joined forces with the Maryland Paranormal Research group to search out sailors who are now spirits - haunting the Constellation. 

The team brought aboard an array of high-tech visual and audio equipment. Hiram Henderson is the group's leader. “Because of the history of apparition sightings on the vessel going back to 1863, we’re going to focus
more on the visual we’re going to be using infrared cameras structured light system and use thermal imaging as well.”

“So, we’ll have a direct voice stage, a direct voice stage / experimental stage, and will plug things into it like a hydrophone, we’ll plug in solar panels you can get electronic voice phenomena from the demodulation of light. We’ll also plug in an electromagnetic sensor basically magnet a coil but the sensors we have, but the sensors that we have are optimized to listen to voice frequencies.”

So, below deck we went to search out the unexplained. And it didn't take long for Maryland Paranormal Research group member Deiedre Aikin to run into what she believed to be a ghost.

“It’s freezing in here. Wow! I hope to God that was them. I just heard a (slow exhale)." 

I explained that she certainly gave me a heart attack if nothing else. That was intense! 

This happened moments after we began a full sweep of the Constellation. We were all on edge but pushed forward into the lower decks. But something paranormal continued to followed us. 

“Are you kidding me?" Deiedra realizes her camera' battery has been drained. "How the hell. I just put this in."

I used our SB-7 Spirit Box to ask questions and listen for responses in the white noise. We also did EVP recordings. No results on either device. So, we continued further down into the belly of the Constellation and the energy seemed to grow darker. And one, I felt like it was surrounding us.

There are stories of a young boy who was murdered in this area - was it him reaching out to us? I had felt a vibration of the there were footsteps right next to us. And it takes a lot for me to say that. A lot of times, I think people are just imagining it. But right in front of us, I could feel the boards moving like somebody was basically walking on them.

We setup a Melmeter which measures changes in the electromagnetic field. We also let one of our cameras run to try and capture evidence. It didn't take long before we got a hit. In fact, the Melmeter responds with a variety of tones and sounds before its fresh battery is drained. Was this the young sailor who was killed? 

Walking the USS Constellation, one can't help getting caught up in the history of this beautiful ship. Every board walked upon and stair climbed, there's a good chance you could come in contact with a ghost - remaining on duty and protecting the place they once called home on the sea.

Just across fro the Constellation in Baltimore harbor - another very famous vessel is available for tours. She, too, is supposedly haunted. 

James Fulwiler educates us on the USS Torsk. "Our WWII Tench-class submarine here at the Historic Ships of Baltimore. This one was commissioned
in December of 1944 towards the end of the war. Mainly concerned with the Pacific Theatre of the war and that is where she served both of her deployments. During that second deployment she gets her big
claim to fame as a ship. She is off the coast of Okinawa a few days prior to VJ day really an end to the Pacific. She sinks two Japanese frigates off the coast. They’re not significant targets at the time but they end up being the very last two ships that any U.S. naval vessel fires on and sinks during WWII.”

The Torsk was armed with ten 21-inch torpedo tubes - six in the bow and four in stern. She was stocked with 28 torpedoes. 

Life on a submarine was challenging. The Torsk was underwater for long stretches of time and space was limited. It was tough to find a spot to relax - especially during lights out. Sadly, the sailors of the Torsk also had to deal with a tragedy. 

"One of the more notable things to happen before her service started when preparing to head out in late 1944, early 1945. We have seaman Joseph Grant Snow. Sadly, he is the only person to ever perish on this ship. He is one of the scouts during the training exercise for whatever reason he doesn’t get down below when the ship begins to dive. At that time, they wore harnesses when they were on the top of the ship to prevent them from falling over. Our best guess he was not able to get his harness off in time. Someone else takes his place down below and they are unable to see that he didn’t make it down below. 

By the time they came back up to surface he was lost to the waters in the bay in the mouth of the Atlantic. He has never been found. He is the only person who ever passed away during the service of the USS Torsk. 

The Torsk eventually would become a training vessel - racking up 12,000 dives until 1968 - which is the recorded naval record for any ship. Then, the Torsk made its way to Baltimore Harbor to become a museum like its neighbor, the USS Constellation. And, just like the Constellation, the Torsk is said to be haunted. 

We teamed up again with out friends from the Maryland Paranormal Research Group to determine is there are something paranormal on the sub. Team leader Hiram Henderson explains the science behind the audio evidence we hoped to gather. 

“And, then another staple method we use is called the direct voice method. We are using amplifiers and mixers. We’re also using an equalizer - a graphic equalizer. And we are also using a compressor. What that does is take very quiet sounds and amplifies them and sounds that are loud will be lowered. Their volume balances the dynamic range in between. The integration of all that equipment - the mix of it all - I think enables you to hear pretty realistic
electronic voice phenomenon.”

This was just some of the equipment brought below deck to try and find the spirits of the Torsk. While the team monitored their machines - one investigator possible saw a ghostly sailor. Deiedra shares the story. 

“So, Sam was sitting here earlier. All of us were sitting here earlier in this room. And he is very skeptical. Nobody else was up here and he said 'I saw something out of the corner of my eye.' He said that he saw a shadow. He saw it see how the shine is on the floor in there? He saw the light change...cut-across...the light broke. And for him to say that...I’m telling you, he has never done that.”

We searched the sub for visual evidence and came up empty. But when we started using the team's audio equipment to connect with the dead, the results were remarkable. 

Hiram asks questions. “What did you like to drink? Wine? Rum?" A response is heard. "Did someone say rum? Someone said rum. Yeah, Rum! Okay, we have one vote for rum. Rum." Soon after Hiram motions towards me and asks for my name to be shared. I missed the response at the time but Hiram says, "I just heard your name. Darren!"

Upon review of the video, the voice is nearly mechanical in sounded but it does indeed sound like my name being spoken. It was a first for the Unexplained Cases team - an EVP where one of our names was said from beyond. But the spirits weren't done yet. 

The team conducted an experiment that they've done before. A random card is pulled from a deck. “Can you tell us this card? Somebody say the name of the card." 

Then a response. "Jack!" Indeed, the card was the Jack of Clubs. The team has performed this experiment several times but the excitement is always high. This seemed to be an intelligent haunting - as the spirits answered our questions. 

“It’s really amazing," explains Hiram. "You’re getting electronic voice phenomenon in its purest form so you’re not using a microphone and yet you are getting EVP’s.”

Our night below deck on the USS Torsk was certainly eventful. The team encountered a possible shadow figure and we heard voices from the dead. It seems like this piece of American naval history still has a few ghostly tales to tell. 

Make plans to visit the USS Torsk and the USS Constellation. Visit the Historic Ships of Baltimore website for more details.


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