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Underwater Ghosts?

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BaronIveagh's picture
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I had vaguely recalled this one as I mentioned over on the Goodwin Sands thread, so I dug up a more complete account. I like the idea of ghosts in unusual places.

from Canadian Ghost Stories Volume II by Susan Smitten

The Emperor sailed the Great Lakes for 37 years. Its career ended abruptly and in tragedy in 1947 at Isle Royale. The infamous rock caused the Emperor to sink, taking 12 men to a cold, watery death. Today, the ship’s hull is a favourite haunt of divers—and of ghosts. Built in 1910 by Collingwood Shipbuilding Co. of Collingwood, Ontario, the Emperor initially served as a steel ore steamer for Inland Lines Ltd. before being sold to Canada Steamship Lines. At 525 feet long, with a depth of 27 feet, the Emperor was powered by a 1500-horsepower, triple-expansion steam engine that could push the ship at a registered nominal speed of 10 knots.  On June 3, 1947, the Emperor’s crew set out with no inkling of the tragedy about to unfold. After loading 10,000 tons of bulk iron ore at the Port Arthur Iron Ore Dock, the Emperor departed Port Arthur at 10:55 pm under the command of Captain Eldon Walkinshaw. At midnight, the watch was turned over to first Mate James Morrey. Unfortunately, the exhausted Morrey had spent six gruelling hours loading the vessel. An inquiry later judged that his fatigue probably caused him to skip standard ­navigational checks as the ship headed towards Passage Island. To compound the problem, the new helmsman was unfamiliar with this part of the lake, so he did not catch the error in the ship’s heading. The ship, powered by its mighty engine, plowed straight towards a bank of deadly rocks.  At 4:15 am on June 4, 1947, the Emperor ran hard onto Canoe Rocks. It sank within 30 minutes. Twelve of the crew died, including Captain Walkinshaw and first Mate Morrey. Most of the casualties occurred as the sinking ship sucked a lifeboat down, carrying the frantic crew under.  The U.S. Coast Guard cutter Kimball was in the vicinity and luckily reached the site within a half hour of receiving the distress call. She arrived just in time for her crew to pluck the nearly frozen survivors from the icy waters of Lake Superior. In the half century since she sank, the Emperor has drawn dozens of divers to explore the steamer’s remains. Their stories cause shivers that have nothing to do with Lake Superior’s cold temperature. One diver reported that he swam into a crew cabin to find the apparition of a sailor lying peacefully on his bunk. The ghost looked blankly at the diver, and the astonished diver quickly returned to the surface, having seen enough.  Other divers report hearing the sounds of the ship’s engine, despite its rather obvious incapacity. But more frightening is an account of divers hearing voices while exploring the shipwreck. One heard a metallic voice clearly saying “Die!” twice. Another intrepid explorer came upon a ghost that must have been a member of the engine crew.  “The eyes were dark pools of nothing, really just black holes, but they still asked the silent questions, ‘Why me? Why am I alone?’” The aqueous apparition went back to his now eternal task of checking the equipment in the engine room, apparently unaware of the layers of dirt and muck sifted onto it by the water’s movement. Some divers, however, chalk all reports up to a deep-sea phenomenon called nitrogen narcosis. Ken Merryman of Superior Trips has run diving trips to the Emperor since 1975 and says he hasn’t encountered any ghosts.  He says, “I don’t recall anyone telling me of seeing anything strange. That doesn’t mean it didn’t happen, I suppose.”  Merryman recalls that in the mid-1970s, divers did find the body of one of the victims. The unfortunate crewman’s remains were trapped in the engine room, face down.

Thoughts? To me it seems unlikely that 'rapture of the deep' is an answer here, though not impossible. Thoughts?

Ian Topham's picture
Ian Topham
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Great story. I can't think

Great story. I can't think of any other underwater witness accounts of apparitions. I certainly wouldn't discount nitogen narcosis and also you should consider the environment in which these were witnessed. Cold, very dark, spooky ship wreck, I would expect a certain amount of minds running away with themselves.

BaronIveagh's picture
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I've talked to some divers

I've talked to some divers about this one: they said they can't rule it out, but those of them that had experienced nitrogen narcosis said their experiences were more akin to drunkenness, and none of them had experienced hallucinations.

Though as you say, couple that with minds running away with themselves in that environment and general spooky environment and it's not impossible. What I find odd is that divers dive on hundreds of wrecks at depth and, as you said, this is the only time I've heard of it as well.



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