The Paranormal at Home: Hauntings in 50 States – California’s RMS Queen Mary

Please click here if you would like to read the first article in the series.

Not all haunted locations are buildings constructed on solid ground. Ships have long been synonymous with the word “ghost.” Tales of mythical ghost ships have been told for centuries. There is actually a known ghost ship phenomenon which applies to vessels that are found with their crew inexplicably missing. Famous ghost ships like the Mary Celeste and HMS Resolute still puzzle historians, but their causes may be conventional rather than paranormal. The situation is much different for the RMS Queen Mary. Rather than mysteriously loosing her living crew she may have actually picked up passengers from the other side.

Haunted California: RMS Queen Mary in Long Beach

Queen Mary in Long Beach
Overhead view of the Queen Mary docked in Long Beach c.2008

The steam liner RMS Queen Mary was launched for the first time in 1934. The ship contained a number of amenities, including two indoor swimming pools, libraries, beauty salons, nurseries, a lecture hall, dog kennels, tennis courts, a music studio and a massive 3 story dining room.

The Queen Mary was re-purposed during World War II for use as a troopship. She was assigned to ferry New Zealand and Australian soldiers to the United Kingdom. Her new gray paint job and impressive speed capabilities earned her the name “Grey Ghost.”  On October 2nd, 1942, the ship accidentally sliced through one of her escort ships, the HMS Curacoa. The tragic accident took the lives of 239 men.

A rogue wave slammed into the side of the Queen Mary in December of the same year while she was carrying over 16,000 American troops, which was a record number of passengers ever transported on a single vessel. She barely managed to recover without capsizing.

Paranormal Activity Aboard the Queen Mary

Even though much of the RMS Queen Mary’s sailing career was uneventful, she was involved in dangerous situations and caused a significant loss of life.  So it really comes as no surprise that the ship is subject to the occasional haunting.  The old first class lounge is a favorite spot for a young woman in a white evening gown that seems to skirt along the shadows. A second woman in white has been spotted near the front desk. She usually moves behind a pillar and never appears on the other side.

RMS Queen Mary's Grand Salon
The Grand Salon aboard the RMS Queen Mary

Audio phenomena is a big part of experiences aboard the Queen Mary. Piano music has been heard even though no one is playing the grand piano (and the instrument’s lid is closed). Eerie sounds are heard in the bow area. While this may sound typical (it is a ship, and it will make some noise), most reports include the same sequence of sounds. It starts with bending metal then the sound of rushing water followed by men crying out. Some believe this could be the residual effect of the 1942 accident with the Curacoa.

Female figures in 50s and 60s style bathing suits have been seen wandering around the pool deck. There is a story about a young girl named Jackie who drowned in the second class pool. A child apparition is said to haunt the first class pool, which some believe could be related. Splashing is also often heard and unexplained footprints mysteriously appear.

The engine room, named “Shaft Alley”, is the scene of reports of a bearded man in coveralls. He always disappears at door 13. This spirit is believed to belong to an 18 year old crew member who was accidentally crushed during a watertight door drill. The incident happened in 1966 right at door 13. Investigators have reviewed records from the same time period and found that the ghost’s attire closely resembles the type of clothing crew wore at the time of the accident.

RMS Queen Mary first class passage way
First class passage way aboard the Queen Mary

The RMS Queen Mary Today

Historians, travelers and the curious are invited to tour the RMS Queen Mary. The ship was retired decades ago and converted into a floating tourist attraction. It has gained a reputation in the paranormal community and was featured on Ghost Hunters as the 11th episode in season 2.

Have you been to the RMS Queen Mary (or would you like to go)? Share your personal experiences or investigative approach to this location in the comments.

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