Things That Go Bump In The Night – RMS Queen Mary

Things That Go Bump In The Night

When your ocean liner earns the nickname the Grey Ghost, you know that ghost stories will follow.

RMS Queen Mary Long Beach January 2011 view
The RMS Queen Mary, Long Beach, January 2011

Construction on the RMS Queen Mary, then known as Hull Number 534, was begun by the Cunard-White Star Line in 1930 in Scotland.  Due to the Great Depression, construction halted in 1931.  It resumed in May 1934.  The ship, named after King George V wife Mary of Teck, was launched September 26, 1934 from Southhampton.

With the advent of World War II, she was converted into a troop transport ship for the Allies. Repainted in navy colors and because of her speed, she became known as the “Grey Ghost.” While never coming under direct attack, the ship was not free from wartime deaths. On October 2nd, 1942, the Queen Mary, running a zig zag pattern to avoid from u-boats, accidentally crashed into the light cruiser HMS Curacoa. The sinking caused the death of 338 people.

After being retrofitted for civilian service between 1946 to 1947, the Queen Mary resumed passenger service.  It continued to sail the Atlantic until retirement in 1967, when it sailed around Cape Horn to be docked in Long Beach, California.

That is when the ghost stories began.

Banging sounds can be heard against the hull near the bow where the Curacoa was struck. But those doomed souls aren’t the only spirits on board. There there were at least fifty other deaths on the ship. There are may reports of people who appear to be dressed from antoher era walking the halls.  Cigar smoke can be smelled wafting down the halls without any apparent source. State rooms B-340 and B-474 are reported to be haunted as well, to the point were they were taken out of use.

One of the most famous ghosts is Jackie, a young child who was believed to have drown in the second class pool.  She haunts that area of the ship, where she can be heard giggling and calling for her mommy and daddy.  She will also answer questions if asked.

There are also the ghosts who haunts Door #13, a water-tight door that is used to seal off the engineering compartment in case of hull breach. Depending on the story, John Peddler was either crushed to death either trying to evacuate the area, or playing a deadly game of chicken with the closing door.  John McKenzie was said to have been killed the same way, but it is believed that he was lured to his death.

The Queen Mary has gone through many owners since she was docked.  How haunted, or even if she was haunted,  was appears to have depended on who owned her at the time. Her current owners offer ghost tours, and have reopened and can be booked for the night.  For as long as she remains in Long Beach, the ghosts of the Queen Mary will be with us.

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