Case File: The Queen Mary
Location: Long Beach, California
Description: Coming Up
History: The Queen Mary is a transatlantic ocean liner now permanently docked in Long Beach, California and used as a hotel. Since she was moored, several employees and guests have seen ghostly figures and heard mysterious sounds. "I'd been here about 14 years when I first had the first experience of actually seeing what I thought to be a ghost," waitress Carol Leyden describes. "I was in the work area, and for some reason I picked up a cup of coffee, went out to the tables, and there was a lady sitting there. I was so fascinated by her dress. She appeared to be in a late afternoon cocktail-type dress from the forties. She had dark hair, rolled at the sides with no makeup on. She seemed to be very pale, but I never saw her move. I left the table, went up about ten feet, turned around because I wanted to take another look, and there was nothing there."
"One day I was standing on the stairs of the pool, and out of the corner of my right eye I saw a woman, probably in her sixties or seventies, in black and white." Former ship tour guide Nancy Anne also had an encounter. "So I went down the stairs and around the pillar, expecting to find her standing there, but she wasn't anywhere to be found. It was only a matter of seconds...she couldn't have gone anywhere."
It is believed these ghosts are those of people who have died on ship or once lived there. Marine engineer John Smith was one of the first people to work on-board after the ship arrived in Long Beach in 1967. On several occasions in a two-month period he heard something unusual in the ship's bow where there should only have been silence. He has described the sound of metal tearing, water rushing, and men screaming as if there had been a rupture of the ship's hull. He investigated, but could find nothing that would have caused the noises.
Years later, John read about a tragedy from World War II. After being converted into a troop ship, the Queen Mary accidentally collided with a British cruiser named the Curacoa. The Queen Mary's bow sliced the Curacoa in half. Tragically, over 300 men were killed. John believed what he had heard was an echo of that disaster. The area where he had heard the sounds was the same area that was damaged during the collision.
Other witnesses have described other incidents. Late one night, maintenance supervisor Kathy Love and her coworker heard mysterious sounds in the pool area. They described the sound of a little girl giggling, playing in the area, and splashing in the water. The splashing stopped, the giggling continued, and the wet footprints of a small child were noticed walking across the floor into the locker room. Apparently, the ghosts are still enjoying their stay on board the ship.
At least one of the spirits originates from a very violent accidental death. Deep within the ship near the engine room is an area called Shaft Alley. During a routine fire drill in 1966, a man named John Pedder was crushed to death by the watertight doors. He is believed to haunt the area. Both tour members and employees have experienced hauntings there.
"I was working in the capacity of a lead guide, which meant my job was to close down the tour route and make sure that there weren't any stragglers behind," Nancy recalls. "I don't know why I turned around, but I turned around and standing right behind me on the step was a man. He had on blue overalls and they were dirty. When I stepped aside to let him go by, he wasn't there. He was gone. I don't necessarily believe any other ghost stories that other people have come up with. I only know what I saw, and I only believe what I saw with my own eyes."
Background: The Queen Mary took her maiden voyage on May 27, 1936. During the five-day trip across the Atlantic, she was a floating party, a symbol of luxury travel in a gilded age. During World War II, she was turned into a troop ship. Due to her ghostly gray camouflage, she was named the "Gray Ghost". After the war, she reverted back to her former glory. She crossed the ocean a total of 1,001 times. In the over thirty years she was at sea, she witnessed four births and at least forty-nine recorded deaths. She was retired to Long Beach in 1967.
Investigations: In September of 1988, Unsolved Mysteries brought a team of paranormal experts to investigate the Queen Mary. Using sophisticated recording equipment, they attempted to verify the eyewitness accounts. Two of the researchers were Dr. William Roll and Tony Cornell; both had years of paranormal research. Cornell set up surveillance equipment in Shaft Alley, while Dr. Roll led a team of psychics onboard. All six psychics claimed to know nothing about the ship's history or about the haunting occurrences.
Armed with maps and their psychic sensitivity, they went off alone in many different directions. Afterwards, they gathered to compare notes. Though some had nothing to report, others sensed a great deal of activity that coincided with eyewitness reports. One of the psychics felt that a collision had occurred. In Shaft Alley, one psychic sensed a twenty-year-old tragedy: the death of John Pedder. The psychic sensed the rhythmic banging of a wrench.
While surveying the bow area, Dr. Roll heard unusual sounds that he couldn't explain. He and a security guard heard the sounds of two men talking. It seemed to be coming from the lower levels of the bow of the ship. He placed a voice-activated tape recorder in the bow area, at the same spot where the voices were heard. For most of the night, nothing was recorded. However, in the early morning, for a full two minutes, the tape recorded picked up sounds where no sounds should be. This included loud banging sounds and unexplained voices. Earlier, the bow had been sealed off. The researchers tried to duplicate the sounds through mechanical means; they were unsuccessful.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the October 26, 1988 episode.
The ghosts of the Queen Mary were once featured on an episode of "Ghost Hunters." The Atlantic Paranormal Society documented a variety of minor occurrences culminating with footage of a bed being disturbed, but video analysis revealed that their camera was tampered with to create the effect.
- The Queen Mary on Unsolved.com
- RMS Queen Mary on Wikipedia
- Queen Mary Website
- Ghosts of the Queen Mary in Long Beach, California
- Haunted Destination: RMS Queen Mary
- Queen Mary throws a nostalgic bash
- Is the Queen Mary Ship Really Haunted?
- Long Beach's Queen Mary is renting out its 'most haunted' room
- The Queen Mary Opens Up Its Haunted Hotel Suite For An Overnight Ghostly Experience
- Queen Mary: A Haunting in Long Beach