Turner Joy Is One Spooky Ship, Paranormal Investigators Say

Turner Joy Is One Spooky Ship, Paranormal Investigators Say
July 20, 2009
By Mandy Simpson
Kitsap Sun

BREMERTON — USS Turner Joy seemed more menacing than majestic Saturday night as four members of the Washington State Paranormal Society, or W.A.P.S., prepared to investigate it.

The Navy destroyer’s red-orange deck lights created streaks of fire-colored water. Its gray paint turned deep black, and its mast spiked dangerously toward the sky. Even the sea gulls sounded more ominous than annoying as they swarmed around the floating museum’s glowing “Closed” sign.

But W.A.P.S. founders Nathan Aupperle, 22, and Brittany Anders, 21, of Poulsbo and investigators Sean Winter, 30, and Kristin Beck, 28, of Seabeck were not fazed as they unfolded cases of electromagnetic field meters, infrared lights and audio recorders in the chief’s mess hall aboard the ship.

“I’ve got my adrenalin rushing,” Aupperle said.

He would need it throughout the 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. examination, during which investigators believed they found evidence of paranormal activity on the museum, Anders said.

The Turner Joy, famous for its involvement in the Gulf of Tonkin incident that precipitated the Vietnam War, isn’t known to be haunted, said Steve Boerner, director of the USS Turner Joy Museum. In fact, Boy and Girl Scout groups have stayed overnight several times without getting spooked.

However, the ship has attracted an unusual amount of attention from paranormal enthusiasts lately, Boerner said.

The W.A.P.S., which was founded in 2007 and has conducted four investigations since, is the fourth group to examine the Turner Joy this summer, he said. The attention is strange because few, if any, paranormal groups showed interest in the ship during the past 10 years, and the four groups that visited recently did not communicate with one another, Boerner said.

“Maybe there’s a paranormal society that’s paranormal,” Boerner said, attempting to explain the flood of ghost hunters.

The ship’s sudden popularity among paranormal enthusiasts might also stem from its mention in the book that inspired W.A.P.S.’s investigation, Jeff Dwyer’s “Ghost Hunter’s Guide to Seattle and Puget Sound,” which was published in the summer of 2008.

Anthony Moore, who does weekend maintenance on the ship, said he understands the curiosity.

“If I were a ghost, and I wanted to haunt a naval ship, it would be this one,” he said because of the Tuner Joy’s involvement in the Vietnam War. “But if they were down here, I would hope they would help me maintain the ship.”

Lucky for Moore, W.A.P.S. investigators might have found him some spirits to recruit.

Anders said that when she and Beck explored the berthing area near the ship’s visitor entrance, the temperature meter suddenly dropped from 74 to 67 degrees, a sign of a paranormal presence.

“All of a sudden we both got chills, hair standing up on the back of our necks,” Anders said after the investigation. “You could just feel it.”

Almost as quickly as the came, the chills calmed and the temperature rose, she said.

But further proof of a presence in that area came when Anders and Aupperle reviewed sounds captured by an audio recorder and heard whistling and a man’s voice saying “come up,” Anders said.

The voice recorder also picked up a voice asking, “What are you doing?” on the ship’s deck, she said.

When investigators examined the refrigerator that stored the bodies of three sailors killed during an accident in Gun Mount 53, three of their fully-charged camera batteries died. Anders said there’s a paranormal theory that apparitions use energy from such equipment to attempt to manifest themselves.

“That just made my heart skip, because something is happening,” she said later. “A theory is actually coming true.”

To avoid “human contamination,” Boerner and another Turner Joy Museum volunteer were the only people other than the W.A.P.S. investigators that were allowed on board during the investigation. Boerner said he did not personally experience any paranormal phenomenon while helping investigators.

The W.A.P.S. plans to post all findings from the Turner Joy to their Web site, w-a-p-s.weebly.com/, sometime this week, Anders said.

She said that one investigation does not provide enough information to prove the ship is haunted.

“But we know that there’s activity there,” she said.

Meanwhile, Boerner said he will continue to answer questions about whether or not the ship is haunted the same way he always has.

“Only the last week in October,” he said.
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