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The USS Salem

Ariel shot of the USS Salem, Summer 2009. Credit: Al Coombs (Image from USS Salem site)

On a few occasions Courtney from Haunt Jaunts and I have discussed via Twitter haunted areas/destinations that have been rather ignored or forgotten when it comes to top paranormal places to visit and investigate. These discussions have prompted me to elaborate on a place that has significant meaning to me: the USS Salem.

Anyone who follows me on Twitter or reads my posts will know I’ve mentioned the USS Salem on quite a few occasions. There is good reason for it. First, I am a member of Fore River Paranormal Society, a paranormal investigative team that is based on board the ship. Second, after conducting a number of investigations there first-hand I can absolutely say without a doubt that the ship is extremely haunted.


Stories have always been floating around regarding the USS Salem having paranormal activity. Regrettably, although being a local person, it wasn’t until I joined Fore River Paranormal Society that I actually visited the ship.

It had also been the first time I had been a part of an organized group dedicated to paranormal research and investigation. Before I preferred being on my own. Joining the group, though, not only was an excellent way to network with other paranormal enthusiasts but it was a rare opportunity for most investigators: having an actual haunted location as their headquarters. Not many groups can claim that. I knew it was a great resource to have with the ability to conduct investigations regularly at a location that had numerous accounts of activity.

My first investigation there was earlier this year. Admittedly I was a bit skeptical. There were many fascinating stories associated with the ship but I wasn’t sure how many of the claims where actually true.

The USS Salem is a heavy cruiser but never saw action in war. Instead it was more of a humanitarian vessel most notably providing emergency relief to the Greek Ioanian Islands after the devastating 1953 earthquake. During this time, the ship saw a great deal of death as well as life (there being about 23 births including one of them stillborn) on board.

Another popular story circulating was about John, a worker who died on the ship roughly ten to fifteen years ago. There have been many accounts of visitors seeing John and some even insisting they received a guided tour of the ship from him. After hearing these stories I was anxious to see what I could experience myself.


After wrapping up the first investigation, it felt rather uneventful. Didn’t see John or any of the shadow figures that many people have claimed to see. Didn’t hear voices with my own ears that people have insisted they have heard. Overall it seemed like a disappointing venture. All these stories seemed to promise that there was going to be some incredible evidence to be had.

While heading off the ship to my car, I flipped on my digital recorder to see if perhaps the recorder caught anything. Barely two minutes into investigating the recorder caught something that was completely unexpected. Although my ears didn’t hear it, my recorder caught a very distinct, very audible, and very creepy voice saying ‘Hey!’

The voice did not resemble that of anyone on the team. There was no reaction or response to the voice by the team members. After listening again, it was clear that the ghost was very close to the recorder as he spoke for it to be as loud as it was. Quite shocking since I never sensed, saw, or heard him but judging from the recording there obviously was a ghost present.

Over the course of driving home, I replayed this over and over again quite impressed that not only did I catch something but it also was a really great piece of evidence and it convinced me that there was in fact some haunting activity.

After that I’ve done more investigations, catching more interesting evidence and also having some strange incidents happen. During the Paranormal Bootcamp hosted by Syd Schultz this past June I acquired some of my best proof. I caught several voices including another ‘Hey!’ that appeared to be the same ghost as before as well as another one demanding for me to ‘Get Out!’ of the engine room. I even managed to see a shadow figure near the library.

While with Syd, I heard a ghost respond directly to a question asked in the birthing room as well as some inexplicable moaning sounds. The more time I have been spending there, the more I’m convinced that this place is indeed a very haunted place.


With TAPS filming an episode of “Ghost Hunters” last year that featured the ship, finally the USS Salem might be gaining some respect and attention in the paranormal community. There has been a tremendous increase in paranormal teams both local and out-of-state coming to visit to check it out for themselves.

Just in the past couple of months there have been many prominent guest speakers and investigators such as Dustin Pari, Shannon Sylvia, Syd Schultz, and John Zaffis. Fore River Paranormal Society is hoping to bring in more speakers and have more ghost hunting events in order to help spread the word about this paranormal gem.

I am quite pleased with how the USS Salem is becoming more of a hot spot these days. It has taken a lot of work to achieve it thanks mostly to the endless efforts of the USS Salem staff.

Still, there is more that needs to be done. Continuously the staff and Fore River Paranormal Society have been working to attract more attention and promote the ship to the paranormal community. Having these impressive guests as well as people traveling from around the country to spend time on the ship is proof that persistence and dedication can take a haunted destination to a whole new level.

Although the USS Salem might not reach the status of the Stanley Hotel or Eastern State Penitentiary, the increased interest has been amazing and noteworthy.

Both Courtney and I agree that there are more paranormal places out there that are in much need of attention. When thinking of paranormal spots in your own area that are barely on the paranormal community’s radar, just remember the USS Salem and how it has slowly but steadily gained momentum with the paranormal community. If it’s a place you truly believe in, take it upon yourself to get the word out. Your persistence and hard work might actually pay off.

Jen Blaney

Jen Blaney is a publishing, editing, and writing professional based out of Boston, MA.

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2 thoughts on “The USS Salem

  1. I was staying aboard the USS Salem in June, 2010 as part of the USS Newport News work party. While sleeping (or trying to sleep!), I encountered the sound of many voices harmonizing a variety of the most beautiful sea shanties. The sounds were coming from an area close to old ship’s speaker that had not been working since the 1950’s. This encounter was experienced in the Chief’s forward berthing compartment. After this encounter, I only spent this one night (one is enough!) aboard and did not relate this experience to anyone until I heard of other ghost stories from ship mates at our June, 2012 work party.

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