In 1924, two crewmen – James Courtney and Michael Meehan – were on board the SS Watertown cleaning a cargo tank when they were overcome by gas fumes and killed. As was custom for sailors at the time, the two men were buried at sea off the Mexican coast.
The next day, the first mate claimed to see the faces of Courtney and Meehan in the waves off the port side of the ship, remaining there for ten seconds before fading right in front of his eyes. For several days following, the faces were clearly seen by other crew members, seemingly following the ship. It caused such a stir that the ship’s captain, Keith Tracy, reported the events to his employers when the ship docked in New Orleans.
At his employers’ suggestion, Captain Tracy purchased a camera and brought it aboard when the ship continued its voyage. The faces dutifully appeared in the water, and Captain Tracy took six photographs before locking the camera and film in the ship’s safe, where it remained for the rest of the voyage. Once the ship arrived in New York, Captain Tracy had the photographs developed. Five of them showed nothing, but the sixth – pictured above – clearly showed the faces of the dead crew members. An investigation showed no obvious signs of forgery, and the remaining crewmen confirmed that the faces bore a likeness to their deceased colleagues.
[Photographer: Keith Tracy]