We All Live In A Haunted Submarine
Legends about ghost ships have circulated for hundreds of years. Many haunted vessels have been warships supposedly observed to be underway without any crew aboard. So, with the advent of widespread submarine warfare in World War I, it was probably inevitable that people would begin to hear reports of underwater maritime hauntings.
The most well-known legend of a haunted submarine is that of the German U-boat, U65. According to stories that circulated after the war, U65 seemed cursed from the start. Even before her launch in 1915, four men died in two separate accidents that occurred while the boat was being built. Then, on the U-boat’s maiden voyage, a man was swept overboard, and two others were killed by a leak of toxic fumes from the ship’s batteries.
While the ship was being outfitted prior to her second cruise, a torpedo accidentally exploded, killing the first officer and injuring nine others. It was shortly thereafter, when crew members claimed to have seen the dead officer walk back aboard the sub and disappear inside, that U65 first received her reputation for being haunted.
Between 1915 and 1918, while the U65 was hunting the seas for allied ships, the ghost officer appeared many times, including once during a violent storm when he was seen standing atop the conning tower. Then another officer was killed during an air raid while on shore leave, and suddenly there were two ghosts aboard U65.
By this time the crew was so rattled by their frequent paranormal experiences that a Lutheran pastor was brought aboard to say some prayers in order to exorcise the spirits. Nonetheless, in May, 1918 a crew member suddenly went mad and began screaming about the ghosts. He was temporarily tied up and, as soon as he was released, he leaped into the ocean in drowned. In June, 1918 two other frightened sailors tried to desert the allegedly haunted ship. In July, two months before Armistice was signed, during an engagement with an American sub the U65 apparently exploded all on its own and sank to the bottom of the sea with more than 30 men aboard. There were no survivors.
For a more detailed account of the U65 story, consult the “Angels in the Sky, Demons in the Deep” chapter of Roger Clarke’s excellent book, Ghosts: A Natural History: 500 Years Of Searching For Proof (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2012).