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Bump in the Night: Looking for Ghosts By Flashlight on the USS North Carolina

Have you ever wondered if the rumors of ghosts on the Battleship North Carolina are true? Ask the staff and volunteers at the Battleship, and you’ll hear stories about shadowy figures that disappear as quickly as they appear – or, sometimes, join a guided tour of the battleship in full World War II-era Navy uniform.

Ask the team with Ghost Hunts USA, and you’ll hear about cold drafts of air in the well-enclosed lower levels of the ship, motion-sensor devices that alert when no one seems to be near them, and ghostly voices detected in the background of recordings or with special recording devices.

But if you want to see for yourself, or just try your hand with paranormal gear like a REM-POD or Phasmabox, now you can. Ghost Hunts USA will return to the Battleship in September and October for special late-night ghost hunts.

The ghost hunters with Ghost Hunts USA have lead similar excursions at more than 60 haunted locations across the country, including previous excursions at the Battleship. Priding itself on creating immersive experiences with support for new and experienced ghost hunters alike, the organization’s ghost hunters bring their own paranormal equipment, which participants have the chance to use. In fact, many of the organization’s lead ghost hunters started as participants at different Ghost Hunts USA events before joining the company in an official capacity. And while looking for signs of spirits remained the focus of the night, the group emphasized the history of the Battleship, and respect for all who served on it, as well.

“Yes, this is a Battleship, but it’s also a memorial,” said Ghost Hunts USA ghost hunter and Brunswick County resident Megan Lewis. “That’s the very first thing we always say, is to respect that it’s a memorial, it’s a museum. It has a special place in my heart.”

We joined Ghost Hunts USA for a recent ghost hunt at the Battleship. Approximately 70 people attended in total; some lived in Brunswick County or Wilmington, while many had driven hours from other states to get there. We gathered in a meeting room on the deck of the ship, where the Battleship’s overnight security crew shared the history of the USS North Carolina and the ghost hunters shared tips for a safe and successful experience. We were then divided into smaller groups, and the ghost hunt began.

With the lights below deck turned off, we used flashlights to follow the team to our first stop – the area where a torpedo hit the Battleship in 1942, killing four sailors, and an area which is normally off-limits to tours. Upon arrival, we turned our flashlights off and adjusted to the pitch black. One of the ghost hunters used special equipment to pick up and then magnify low, voice-like noises, which he recorded and played back to the group. After that, our group moved to the Battleship’s mess hall, where another ghost hunter placed equipment around the room: REM-PODs, which beeped and flashed when the energy in an area changes, cat toys which lit up when moved, and a music box which played a haunting tune when someone – or something – was near. And then it was on to the ship’s sick bay, where the group asked questions of the ghosts and used a tablet loaded with Phasmabox software to pick up spirit voices answering.

Was that quick, glowing light flashing through a fully darkened room a spirit, or a participant’s smart watch? Was that subtle noise in the background a ghost communicating, or a participant whispering? And just what kept causing the music box to play? Occasionally, an earthly participant would admit to being the culprit; often, there was no obvious earthly cause.

After guided tours, we had the chance to borrow equipment from the ghost hunters and roam the Battleship on our own. We were able to use the REM-PODs and the tablet with Phasmabox software ourselves, as well as trying out simpler options like the cat toys or divining rods, which could be used to ask simple “yes or no” questions of the spirits. Many of the more experienced participants had brought their own equipment, but for those new to ghost hunting – like us – the Ghost Hunts USA team was available to answer questions and demonstrate how to use the different items.

Armed with flashlights and divining rods, we set off to explore the darkened Battleship. We had free roam of the ship until 3 am, and were able to come back to the original meeting room at any point for coffee, cool drinks and snacks – or to borrow a different piece of equipment. The Battleship’s overnight security team continued with their rounds, pausing to give directions or share stories of previous ghost sightings with the participants.

It wasn’t the first time Ghost Hunts USA has been to the Battleship, and it won’t be the last; with multiple ghost hunts already conducted at the site, the team already has additional events planned in the fall, just in time for Halloween.

“To see a shadowy figure or watch the dark get darker, you never get over seeing that shadow or that apparition,” said Ghost Hunts USA ghost hunter Melissa Majors, who has completed ghost hunts on the Battleship several times before and drove from out of state to be here for the latest ghost hunt. “You don’t get a bad feeling here. The spirits here are lovely. Respect is the biggest thing. They lived once; just have respect.”


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