Arts and Entertainment

Climb aboard — if you dare

(From left:) Captain Hellren, Tia Dalama and The Duchess of the South Sound Rogues and Waves are part of the crew haunting the USS Turner Joy. - Bill Mickelson/Staff  Photo
(From left:) Captain Hellren, Tia Dalama and The Duchess of the South Sound Rogues and Waves are part of the crew haunting the USS Turner Joy.
— image credit: Bill Mickelson/Staff Photo

What’s Up boards a haunted Bremerton battleship for the final edition in our series on Kitsap’s haunts for the Haunted Holiday Season.

“Climb aboard,” a ghostly witch of a wench whispers in a wicked rasp. “We hope you survive your trip on the Turner Joy.”

Another wicked sea sorceress lets out a shrieking cackle at the top of her lungs, filling the bowels of the old Bremerton battleship and echoing out into the waterfront night sky. An evil group of ghosts and pirates, ghostly sea cadet and zombified Navy personnel have commandeered the historic USS Turner Joy, and all sorts of ghastly happenings are emanating from the usually placid museum piece of a boat.

It’s the Bremerton Historic Ships Association’s third annual haunted house — the only “haunted ship” in Kitsap County, open at 5:30 p.m. tonight, Thursday and Friday on the Bremerton Waterfront.

Well, perhaps it’s not the only haunted ship in Kitsap — there have been rumors of ghosts throughout the Bremerton shipyard — but the decommissioned Turner Joy is the only ship with an actual haunted house within its quarters, offering public tours.

It’s an annual fundraiser for the maintenance and restoration of the World War II-era destroyer, started in 2005, attracting an average of 1,000 visitors each Halloween. However there were no spooks to be had last year, with the construction of the Bremerton Marina, so this year is bound to be extra frightful.

The marina’s construction might have even conjured up a few spirits from the depths of the Sound. Or perhaps some apparitions from the past will appear.

Before it was decommissioned and acquired as a museum piece by the Bremerton Historic Ships Association in the early 1990s, the Turner Joy served for decades in theaters across the world, most famously in the Vietnam conflict of the mid-1960s. She was there in the Gulf of Tonkin during the “Tonkin Gulf Incident” in 1964, which predicated America’s involvement in that country’s bloody civil war.

Later that year, the Turner Joy provided callfire support to American and South Vietnamese forces operating ashore, and her guns are said to have destroyed a number of enemy positions and figured prominently in the repulse of the Viet Cong attack.

However, near the conclusion of that action, an ammunition round in the ship’s front gunner misfired. And during efforts to clear the chamber, the shell detonated, killing three sailors and wounding three others.

So be on the lookout for disembodied ghosts as you “board the decks of doom” and “walk the passageways of peril” amongst the rogue pirates, sea sorceresses and other creepy creatures who will be haunting the cramped quarters of this historic naval destroyer.

And remember: Once aboard, there’s nowhere to run, other than to walk the plank.

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