Haunted Ships – The Queen Mary
The Queen Mary has been a permanent feature in Long Beach, California for a couple fo decades and is one of the most famous cruise ships of all time. The ship has become a hotel, museum and popular tourist attraction, and the historic ship is internationally recognized and attracts thousands of visitors every year. Besides the living guests, the ship is said to play host to several ghosts. It has been speculated that the Queen Mary might be one of the most haunted places in the world. Reports say that as many as 150 known spirits have taken up residence and lurk in various locations all around the ship.
The Queen Mary sailed her maiden voyage on May 27, 1936. Built in Scotland to be used as part of a two-ship express service from Southampton to Cherbourg to New York, the Queen Mary is 1,000 feet long, and in her day was said to be bigger, faster and more powerful than the Titanic. She also held the record for the fastest-ever North Atlantic crossing. The historic ocean liner’s passengers included the most celebrated people of the time, including royalty, top entertainment figures and important world leaders.
At the start of World War II in 1939, luxury travel stopped and the ship was turned into a carrier ship that was used by allied forces to carry troops from March of 1940 to September of 1946. It was during this time that she would become known as “The Grey Ghost”. By the end of World War II, the ship had carried more than 700,000 troops, traveled over 500,000 miles and played a significant role in almost every major Allied campaign. She also survived a collision at sea, set the record for carrying the most people ever on a floating vessel (16,683), and participated in the D-Day invasion.
When the war ended, the Queen Mary was refurbished and started up her elegant cruises again in July, 1947, with weekly service between Southampton, Cherbourg, and New York. By the early 1960’s, the popularity of transatlantic cruises greatly decreased due to the increasing affordability of air travel. The ship attempted to revive its popularity, but without central air condtioning, outdoor pools, or other amenities offered on most other cruise ships, the attempt was unsuccessful.
In 1967, the Queen Mary was pulled from service and was sold to the city of Long Beach, California, to be used as a maritime museum and hotel. On December 9, 1967, she made her final voyage to Long Beach.
During her 60-year history, the Queen Mary was the site of 49 reported deaths, opening the doorway for potential spirits to haunt her. Reported hauntings include a young crewman in the engine room, swimmers in the first-class pool, a man in black, and a woman in blue. Some of the Queen Mary’s most haunted places include the propeller box, engine room, boiler room, cargo hold and first class swimming pool.
One of these hauntings is thought to be the spirit of John Pedder, a fireman in his late teens who was crushed to death by a watertight door in 1966 during a routine drill. Unexplained knocking has been heard around the door, and a tour guide reported she saw a figure dressed in dark clothing as she was leaving the area where the young man had been killed. She saw his face and recognized him from his photographs. He was dressed in blue coveralls and sporting a beard. The young man has often been seen walking along Shaft Alley before disappearing by door number 13. This famous door was used in the filming of the Posiedon Adventure and has reportedly crushed at least two men during the ship’s history.
The first-class swimming pool seems to be a hot spot for ghostly encounters. Wet footprints mysteriously appear even though there’s not a drop of water in the pool. These footsteps lead from the deck of the pool to the changing rooms. Women in vintage bathing suits are occasionally seen stopping by for a swim ,even though the pool has been closed for more than 30 years. There have also been reports of seeing the spirit of a young girl carrying her teddy bear along with disembodied voices, laughter and splashing sounds.
In the second class pool area the spirit of another little girl named Jackie is often been seen and heard. The girl drowned in the pool during the ship’s sailing days and doesn’t seem to want to move on. Her voice and the sound of laughter has been captured in this area.
In the room that was used as the third class playroom, there have been reports of the sound of children crying in the nursery room. There is also a report that a single baby’s cry has been heard. This crying is thought to be that of an infant boy who died there shortly after he was born.
In some of the first-class staterooms there have been reports of a tall, dark haired man wearing a 1930’s style suit showing up in various places. In addition to sightings of the man, the faucets and lights get turned on in the middle of the night, and phones ring in the early morning hours but no one is ever on the other end of the line.
There are several other reports of sightings about the ship including a beautiful young woman in an elegant white evening gown who dances alone in a shadowy corner of the salon, which was once used as the ship’s first-class lounge. Another mysterious woman in white has been seen close to the front desk. She will usually disappear behind a pillar.
Other phenomena that has been reported throughout the ship include the sounds of knocking, doors slamming and high pitched squeals, drastic temperature changes, and the recurring smells of another time.
The Queen Mary has been investigated by a number of paranormal professionals, printed publications, television shows like Ghost Hunters and Most Haunted, and several others. In addition to portions of the movie “The Poseidon Adventure” being filmed there, the X-Files filmed a 1998 WWII era episode about a time warp in the Bermuda Triangle aboard the ship. That was a great episode – it was called “Triangle” – you should check it out if you missed it!
On the Ghost Hunters episode, what was thought to be a fantastic paranormal event caught on tape turned out to be not so fantastic as it appeared someone had tampered with the video camera. So is the Queen Mary really haunted or not? The Ghost Hunters are heading back out there in February of 2008 to see if they can find out. Hopefully there won’t be any tampering this time and they can capture some evidence to support all the claims of paranormal activity on the Queen Mary.