The RMS Queen Mary is the world’s best-documented haunted ship, and the ship having more ghosts than other ships her size had crew. When she was christened at her Scottish shipyard in 1934 by Britain’s King George V and Queen Mary, the RMS Queen Mary was the largest ship in the world and the jewel of the Cunard Line.
During the years that the 1,019-foot luxury liner the Queen Mary was in service (1936–1967), there were 41 passengers and at least 16 crew members who died on the high seas of various illnesses and accidents.
Like anomalien.com on Facebook
To stay in touch & get our latest news
In addition to the deaths that occurred directly in her cabins or on her decks, the Queen Mary was responsible for the deaths of over 300 seamen during World War II.
Today, the ship is permanently moored in Long Beach, California, as a hotel and tourist attraction. There have been literally hundreds of sightings of various ghosts throughout the ship, and they continue to the present day.
Many of the ship’s staff, tour guides, and visitors to the ship, as well as overnight guests at the hotel, have reported seeing them.
The RMS Queen Mary is 1,019.5 feet long, weighs 81,237 gross tons, is 181 feet tall from its keel to the top of its smokestack, has a 160,000 horsepower engine capacity, and was built to accommodate approximately 3,000 passengers and crew comfortably.
In all aspects, the Queen Mary is significantly bigger than the Titanic was, built 20 years earlier. The ship made her maiden voyage on May 27, 1936. The Queen Mary was one of the last of the great transatlantic ocean liners, and her civilian service would be short-lived.
In March 1940, she was painted grey and given the ominous name of the “Gray Ghost.” The Queen Mary was pressed into service for World War II and was transporting around 15,000 troops at a time, mainly for the United States.
Although she escaped harm from enemy vessels, on October 2, 1942, the Queen Mary had a tragic collision with one of her escort cruisers, the HMS Curaçao. In 1942, the Queen Mary was being escorted through hostile waters by a much smaller vessel called the Curaçao.
The Queen Mary had strict orders not to stop or even slow down for any reason, as Hitler’s U-boats were all around the area. The Queen Mary was running in a zig-zag submarine evasion pattern, and the Curaçao inadvertently got into the way of the great ship. The Curaçao was literally sliced in half, killing 338 of the sailors aboard—though a few crew members were pulled from the water by other escort ships, most were lost.
On July 31, 1947, the Queen Mary returned to its peacetime mission of being a transatlantic vessel. But the days of transatlantic vessels were numbered. On September 19, 1967 the RMS Queen Mary was retired from service after completing 1,001 Atlantic crossings.
The city of Long Beach, California, successfully bid to acquire the Queen Mary and have her permanently docked as a tourist attraction for the city of Long Beach. On December 11, 1967, she pulled in to Long Beach and has remained there ever since.
Since the Queen Mary was permanently docked in Long Beach in 1967, hundreds of visitors have claimed to have seen materialized ghosts, moving objects, and eerie lights floating through its hallways.
Disembodied voices are frequently reported, and many individuals say that they have heard screams and the harsh sound of ripping metal in the bow area, terrible echoes of the night the Gray Ghost tore the Curacao in half. In addition to the many ghosts sighted on the Queen Mary, there have been traditional haunting phenomena, such as unexplained voices and moving objects.
Several séances have been held on the ship, at which mediums claim to have contacted resident spirits. The spirit most often mentioned is that of Lieutenant Carlo Giovetti, an Italian fighter pilot who was shot down by the British over North Africa.
Giovetti died onboard the Queen Mary while being transported as a prisoner of war. He died primarily due to complications from injuries he suffered during the plane crash, and, like many others who died onboard during the War years, was most probably buried at sea.
Peter James, a psychic medium has been investigating the history and ghosts of the Queen Mary since 1991. James said, “The Queen Mary is the most haunted place that I have ever investigated. And I’ve literally been around the globe with hauntings.
This is number one as the most haunted place in the world. There are at least 600 active resident ghosts on the Queen Mary.” Why so many deaths on a luxury ocean liner? Certainly the military service has a lot to do with the fatalities.
James said, “While transporting over 10,000 of our troops during World War II, it was quite hot in the Indian Ocean and the Queen Mary was not equipped with airconditioning.
The fact has it that troops were dying at a rate of one every 7 minutes for hours. That’s how bad it was, because they were packed like sardines.” In addition to U.S. and allied troops, the “Gray Ghost” also picked up some German and Italian prisoners of war.
The prisoners were as young as 17 years old. They were housed in the isolation ward on B deck. They chose to commit suicide rather than face the consequences of becoming prisoners of war.
James said, “To this day, you can hear the collision—the residual sound effects and also the water splashing and many screams for help.” Military service doesn’t account for all of the fatalities on the ship. There were medical conditions of passengers, some drownings in the pool, and even a few accidents.
The ship’s door number 13 features a watertight seal and can be closed, in order to section off the ship in case of a hull breach. He says at least two men throughout the ship’s history were crushed to death in this doorway, and James suspects it could have been foul play.
One ghost who is regularly seen is that of 18-year-old John Pedder, who was crushed to death deep among the pipes and girders of the engine room by hydraulic door no. 13 during one of the luxury liner’s final voyages on July 10, 1966.
Because of the area he haunts, he has earned the nickname “the Shaft Alley Spectre.” Other visitors have met him in narrow walkways and have even stepped aside to let him pass, only to see the young man disappear after a few steps. The ghost of Senior Second Officer W.E. Stark has been spotted in his former sleeping quarters as well as on deck.
He, too, died in an accident. On September 18, 1949, he drank a mixture of carbon tetrachloride and lime juice: The deadly cleaning fluid had been stored without proper warning in an old gin bottle. He treated the mistake lightly, but the next day he fell into a coma and died three days later.
The phantom of a man in a mechanic’s white boiler suit has also been seen and heard near the engine room. Likewise, a man in blue-gray overalls, with black hair and a long beard, has been spotted below deck.
Peter James has visited the Queen Mary well more than 1,000 times since 1991. His first supernatural experience onboard happened during his first tour on the ship’s old “Ghosts, Myths, and Legends” tour with his friend. He said to his companion, “This captain just came up to me and said he was Captain Stark, and this is where they found his body. Ten seconds later, the tour guide turns around and says, ‘And this is where the body of Captain Stark was found.’”
As a psychic, James certainly has an advantage in experiencing the supernatural aboard the ship, but he said there are many phenomena that have materialized for witnesses who are not psychically sensitive.
He believes the first-class swimming pool is the heart of the ship, and James has encountered a significant amount of supernatural occurrences there. One such event involved the disembodied voice of a young girl named Jackie, and more than 100 witnesses experienced it at a single time.
James said, “Jackie is about 4 or maybe 5 years old. After I had an interactive conversation with her, she said she would meet up with me in the other pool area.
I was a bit confused, because I was only aware of one pool—the first-class swimming pool. However, in her consciousness of about 60 or more years ago, the Royal Theater used to be the second-class swimming pool, where, sadly, she drowned. Jackie speaks as clearly as we do.”
Robin Wachner the marketing communications director for the Queen Mary, explained that, since 1967, the Queen Mary has operated as a hotel and has featured restaurants, catering halls, and special event tours.
There are more than 365 guest rooms that are preserved exactly as they were when the ship sailed. Even some of the fixtures in the rooms are original. Today, the ship receives more than 1.4 million visitors per year. Wachner said she’s never personally experienced any ghosts onboard, but many of her colleagues have.
She said, “In the marketing office, a lot of people have experienced seeing, out of the corner of their eye, a man in black. He appears almost as fast as he disappears.
People have walked over to see if they can help this man, and he’s just gone. We also have a lot of instances within our offices of doors just mysteriously opening and closing when there’s no wind and no windows open. There have been some strange happenstances aboard the Queen Mary among the employees—people see disembodied heads, legs, and images, and people dressed in vintage clothing disappear into thin air.”
Sources: Real Ghosts, Restless Spirits, and Haunted Places by Brad Steiger; The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Ghosts and Hauntings by Tom Ogden; The World’s Most Haunted Places by Jeff Belanger