Remembering Pearl Harbor

Remembering Pearl Harbor

Is the USS North Carolina one of the most haunted naval ships?
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USS North Carolina, Wilmington NC photo by Kala Ambrose

As we approach the anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941, I'd like to share with you an experience I've had encountered a ghost who is connected to this time and place…

This journey begins in eastern North Carolina. North Carolina has a shoreline that is not welcoming to ships and even with the abundance of lighthouses warning ships to steer clear, the numbers of shipwrecks reported along the coast are in the hundreds.

Pirate ghosts are reported to wander the land – looking to save their sunken ships, hide their treasure and settle a score. Blackbeard is the most famous and infamous of them all and remains in good company with the men and women who followed a similar path.

Haunted North Carolina

This is where the haunted history of North Carolina begins, on the beaches and outer islands of the state. Some believe that your soul can't rest when you are lost at sea and thus you will remain a ghost. The coast of North Carolina is full of stories of ghosts said to appear and disappear at will. Some to warn of approaching storms, others on patrol to guard a fort and lighthouse keepers who remain at their station, long after their final retirement.

I find it interesting to note that should you sail directly east from the coast of North Carolina, you will reach Bermuda, putting you directly into the Bermuda Triangle. Were the souls who dared to cross the Bermuda Triangle to enter the North Carolina coast, doomed even before they began? And does this energy radiate through the Atlantic waters into North Carolina?

Over the years, I've explored so many incredible haunting sites in North Carolina. For this story, as your travel guide to the other side, I want to share my experience while visiting a naval ship in Wilmington, North Carolina.

Commissioned in 1940, the USS North Carolina was considered to be one of the world’s most formidable ships. During WWII, the North Carolina participated in every major naval offensive in the Pacific. This earned it fifteen battle stars and was known as the protector of aircraft carriers, including saving the USS Enterprise in 1942.

Pearl Harbor

On December 7, 1941, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor using 353 Japanese fighters and torpedo planes. Four battleships were sunk and four others damaged. Two destroyers and three cruisers were sunk and almost three hundred and fifty aircraft were destroyed or severely damaged. Over 2,400 men were killed and more than 1,200 injured. The overwhelming devastation was a huge shock to the nation.

After the attack on Pearl Harbor, almost all of the Pacific fleet was destroyed. The first wave of Japanese attack inflicted most of the damage and the second wave returned to demolish anything left standing. Japan and the United States were in peace talks at the time, so the attack came as a surprise, as no declaration of war had been delivered before the attack. With this act, the United States then declared war and entered World War II.

The surviving sailors in Hawaii were in a state of despair; they had lost many of their friends along with their ships and they were isolated on an island far away from the mainland. The attack had been swift. Reinforcements and supplies were going to take months to arrive in Hawaii. Feeling alone and grieving, the men waited for seven long months for reinforcements to arrive.

Then one glorious day, the first naval ship arrived in Hawaii. It was the USS North Carolina and she was greeted in a mass celebration by an overwhelming crowd of soldiers, sailors, marines and air force pilots, hailing her presence from the beaches with cheers and delight. Upon her arrival in Hawaii, many sailors were quoted as saying that she was “the most beautiful thing they had ever seen.”

Haunted Experience

In my experience as a psychic and paranormal investigator, I have found that powerful emotional experiences of the most positive and the most negative nature leave an energy imprint on the object of the attention. Energy imprints are also left on objects surrounding the area as well.

I believe that the USS North Carolina battleship soaked up all of that energy that day upon her arrival in Pearl Harbor. In the water and in the air, she felt the pain and loss of the destruction which had occurred, while at the same time, she was greeted and filled with joy by sailors, pilots, and marines who saw her like a saving grace and point of hope.

This, I believe, buoyed the battleship, giving her great luck and fierce determination in battle.

A Warship

She was known to be a feisty fighter; stories are still told about the day she fought her first battle against the Japanese Imperial Navy. Her guns roared from the ship and surrounded her in so much smoke that the nearby USS Enterprise reported that they believed her to be on fire.

When the smoke cleared, the facts showed just the opposite. The great lady had shot down seven planes and reportedly assisted in bringing down seven more and she was just getting started. She also fought in Okinawa, where during forty days of constant battle, she shot down hundreds of suicidal Kamikaze Japanese planes.

During the War, the Japanese reported on their radio six different times that they had sunk the North Carolina battleship, all of which proved to be false. The Japanese did manage to hit the ship once with a torpedo, which cost five crewmen their lives. Five other men died aboard the ship from other circumstances and by some accounts some of them still remain on board and in active duty on the ship to this day.


The USS North Carolina battleship is now anchored in Wilmington, North Carolina where thousands visit her each year. Many of those who visit and work on the ship have shared a number of ghost stories and other paranormal activity they experienced while onboard.

From the night watchman who sleeps aboard the ship each night to daily tourists and visitors, the reports of the ship being haunted continue to grow. Some of the ghosts are harmless, though they do catch people off guard, giving them a fright. Mostly, they are seen involved in their daily activities aboard the ship, looking for lunch from the kitchen, preparing for bed in their bunks and performing maintenance around the ship. The sounds of their banging as they work on parts of the ship can often be heard throughout the night. These ghosts are hard workers; they bang with their tools, knock on walls, open and close hatches, yell at each other, have heated and animated discussions, and enjoy turning televisions and lights on and off.

The ship is massive and as you approach where she’s anchored on the Cape Fear River, you can’t help but feel excited and swell with a sense of patriotic pride. Upon boarding the ship, you take a step back into history. As you walk through each section, displays are set up to show what life on the ship was like. Lifesize cardboard cutouts of men are arranged in some of the rooms to showcase onboard activities including; the barbershop, the movie theater, post office, laundry, ice cream shop, and the infirmary. It quickly sinks in that each ship was a world of its own, where sailors lived for months at sea in cramped conditions and where all of their daily needs had to be met.

It was a relatively quiet day when I visited the ship, and I wandered through the ship at my own pace. This allowed me to take my time and linger in some places where I felt the energy shift around me. What I felt first and foremost, was a strong emotional bond linked here on the ship. The men who had served on this ship were extremely proud of their work and their commitment to their country. You can literally feel this pride in the air.

When World War II ended, the ship was sent to an inactive reserve in 1947 in New Jersey. In 1958, it was announced that the ship would be sent to the scrap heap to be torn apart and the metal recycled. Citizens of North Carolina formed a group called SOS (Save Our Ship) and raised the money to purchase the ship and bring it home to Wilmington.

In 1962, the USS North Carolina was delivered to the state of North Carolina and dedicated as a memorial to all World War II veterans and those who died in the war.

As I took in the emotional energy resonating from the ship, I compared it to other naval ships that I've been on and I found North Carolina to be quite different in feeling. I’ve been on several naval ships, including going on a Tiger cruise, where family and friends are invited to cruise on a naval ship as it returns from a deployment, so I’m familiar with the look and feel of a ship. I’ve stepped through my share of bulkheads to enter rooms and appreciate the tremendous amount of thought and planning that goes into building a ship to house so many sailors in one confined space.

As I walked through the ship, I noticed that there were certainly pockets around the ship that felt sad (the brig area being a strong one) and a couple of areas that felt very creepy, but overall, the ship literally bursts with pride. It rings from the walls and I think the veterans and tourists who visit the ship each day reinforce this energy, building it to even greater levels.

For the most part, according to history, the men on the ship got along very well and were as happy as men can be when involved in the war-time activity.

But there was one man on board that ship who appears as if he has never been happy and he continues to haunt the ship until this day.

I felt his presence on the ship after only being there for a few minutes. If he was a sailor on the North Carolina during the war, I feel that he caused trouble and mayhem aboard the ship as often as he could. I encountered him during my visit to North Carolina and I’m not sure that he is a ghost. I think instead that he may be a malevolent spirit who has attached itself to the ship.

At one point during my tour, I sensed the presence of another ghost and I began to track it around the ship. I encountered stepping into cold spots, following the sound of footsteps where no one was walking, and overhearing a bit of conversation near the mess hall. I became a psychic detective, using my internal radar to guide me to the energy as it would grow and then disappear. Near the ship’s galley, I saw a shadowy mist begin to appear. I quickly reached for my camera to snap a picture.

Before I could take the photo, the entire camera shut down and the brand new batteries that I had loaded that morning were now completely drained. I always travel with extra batteries; as any paranormal researcher can tell you it is a frequent occurrence when ghosts are near, that the batteries in all types of electronic equipment will be drained. This ghost that had appeared, though, was not the dark presence I had felt earlier on the ship, as he did not emit the intense feeling of dread that I had detected earlier with the malevolent spirit. He appeared to be involved in his daily activities and seemed more interested in getting lunch from the galley area than anything else.

The ship itself makes it difficult to take photos that could realistically be used as evidence of paranormal activity. Besides the fact that the ship is mostly metal and the flash from the camera bounces everywhere, many of the displays on the ship are behind glass, which also makes it difficult to take pictures without light of some kind bouncing off the glass and metal and creating the effect of orbs and other anomalies that could be misconstrued as supernatural in nature.

I loaded new batteries in my camera but decided that it was time to put the gadgets away and use the best tool I have, my psychic sense. I continued through the ship for about a half-hour after that, no longer sensing the ghostly presence. The ship has been wonderfully restored and it was a pleasure just to take the tour of this living legend.

Just as I was about to wrap things up and head for the exit, the angry spirit appeared. I was standing by some stairs when I noticed someone looking at me.

The only way I know to describe him to you is that he was intense, forbidding and not at all interested in the conversation. Reports from various paranormal investigators and researchers have said that the man they encountered offered his name and at times, his rank.

The being that I encountered was not in the mood to talk, and though he startled me at first, I soon realized that he wasn’t particularly interested in me at that moment, unless he thought I would be interfering with his activities. He was not the ghost that I had seen materializing near the mess hall; that presence had been fun to follow around the ship. He was pleasant enough and simply engaged in his daily activities. This entity, on the other hand, sucked the energy out of where he appeared and filled it with angry energy. I held my ground, using what I had been taught over the years to keep a protective shield of light energy around me so as not to allow him to come any closer to me.

The entire encounter lasted a few seconds and felt like several minutes. I know nothing about this spirit, not his name or his rank, but I do know what I felt when meeting him. He’s moved past the point of being reasonable, anger has overtaken him and it’s how he feeds his energy. He takes the form of a man when he appears, but I don’t think that his true form is human. I feel that this spirit attached itself to one of the men who served on the ship and now uses his form to manifest as a human when it desires. The sailor to whom he attached himself to during the time he served on the ship was never a mentally well-balanced person. He wrestled with his dark side all throughout his life and enjoyed being cruel to others onboard, which made him prey for this dark spirit.

He’s definitely not giving out information as to whether or not he was one of the men who died on board the ship, but it’s clear that he’s attached to the ship with no plans to leave anytime soon. Should you encounter him during your visit, you’ll know immediately. Even if you do not see him, you’ll feel his presence, a mixture of anger and dread and you’ll struggle not to run as far away from this energy as you can.

As I kept my light force field shield around me, the spirit disappeared and I could no longer detect his presence. He’s motivated by creating fear and making other people feel afraid, so if you bump into him on the ship, don’t engage with him. The best thing you can do if you run into him is to ignore him and move away to another area.

If you encounter the other ghosts here on the ship, they feel very different than this spirit. Should they materialize in front of you, they are lighter in color and go about their daily tasks on the ship. In comparison, the dark spirit appears to be hunting for something or someone on the ship.

Finished with the tour, I gathered myself and prepared to disembark. Turning back to look at the ship one last time, I found myself agreeing with those sailors in Hawaii; the ship is a beautiful sight. Overall the energy there is overwhelmingly positive, but like with all things in life, there is the light and there are shadows. Wonderfully preserved, we can’t quite call her a landmark, but she is a presence to be dealt with and honored.

The nickname given to the USS North Carolina was the “Showboat” and she continues to live up to her name today. My gratitude and deep appreciation go out to all of the men who served during this war, for their sacrifice and commitment. May they all rest in peace.

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