By Paula Bates
The Queen Mary has been named one of the world’s “Top 10 Haunted Places” by Time Magazine, and its haunted history is punctuated by at least 49 on-board deaths, including a crewmember who was crushed by a hatch during a routine drill, a young girl who drowned in one of the pools, and a ship’s officer who mistakenly drank poison thinking it was gin.
So what makes the Queen Mary unique among other haunted places in the world? The amount of observed phenomena grew so great, that in the early 1990s, the company overseeing the Queen Mary at the time contracted professional Anomalist and Parapsychologist, Christopher Chacon, to undertake an extensive and thorough scientific investigation of the phenomena.
But to understand this fascinating ship and why it is such a hotbed for paranormal activity, it’s important to go back to the beginning of the story and follow the Queen Mary’s journey through time and across oceans.
The Queen Mary began her life as a luxury British ocean liner, launching in 1934, christened by her namesake, taking her maiden voyage in 1936. For three years, the Queen Mary ferried passengers across Atlantic faster and more comfortably than ever before.
When World War II broke out, she was stripped down, repainted, and nicknamed the “Grey Ghost” while being used as a transport ship for allied soldiers. This was a dramatic change for the Queen Mary, but her speed and stealth abilities proved invaluable during the war. Tragically, in 1942, the Queen Mary collided with the HMS Curacoa, another ship transporting allied soldiers, which resulted in the loss of 337 lives.
After the end of the war, the Queen Mary was refitted again for passengers in 1947 and went on to complete 1,001 total transatlantic voyages in her day, attracting high profile passengers such as Hollywood actors, famous musicians, and even British royalty on several occasions.
Her final transatlantic passage was completed in 1967, ending in Long Beach, California, where the ship still remains to this day, serving as a museum, tourist attraction, and hotel.
Hundreds of people have reported experiencing paranormal phenomena (even skeptics having encountered inexplicable events) aboard the Queen Mary in the days since she was permanently moored in Long Beach. These accounts come from a broad spectrum: everyone from visitors on board for only a short time to people employed long-term on the ship for many years.
Depending on who you ask, some areas on the Queen Mary are said to be more haunted than others with a wide variety of different phenomena being experienced in every area. For example, many have heard a little girl’s voice in the pool room where little Jacqueline Torin, “Jackie,” drowned. She was only around five years old at the time of her death, and guests often hear her calling for her parents.
Another area of the ship with frequent reports is the boiler room. Here, people have seen an apparition thought to be that of John Henry, a worker who is said to have passed away while on the job and whose remains were discovered there.
A few examples of the hundreds of different types of phenomena people have experienced over the years includes; encountering a variety of apparitions that vanish (smokey translucent forms, dark shadowy silhouettes, solid normal-looking), physical contact (touched, pulled, grabbed, etc.), inexplicable voices and conversations, cold and hot spots, power surges, and cabinets, doors and furniture moving seemingly on its own. The incredible variety, frequency and potency of the phenomena make it clear that the Queen Mary is truly a haunting like no other.
Many self-proclaimed paranormal investigators and psychics have been drawn from around the world to conduct investigations into these phenomena, but only one investigation stands out among the rest and was the only officially sanctioned one ever conducted…
Enter the world’s top paranormal investigator: Christopher Chacon.
In the early 1990s, world-renowned Parapsychologist and Anomalist Christopher Chacon conducted a scientific investigation of the property at the request of the company operating the ship. The 18 month, round-the-clock, investigation utilized an extraordinary array of state-of-the-art technology (monitoring everything from background radiation to air pressure, from magnetic fields to chemical content in the environment) that spanned the entire ship and a team of scientists (including physicists, medical doctors, chemists, etc.) dedicated to gathering and analyzing data. Additionally, over 1,500 people were interviewed and hundreds of controlled experiments were conducted. Great care was taken to establish scientific controls and maintain and ensure the integrity of data that was collected, repeating each data collection and assessment process multiple times.
Chacon is regarded as one of the world’s foremost authorities of paranormal phenomena, having conducted thousands of investigations worldwide for nearly forty years dealing with just about every type of phenomena imaginable. Chacon’s investigative approach is all-encompassing and follows a strict scientific protocol, assessing every imaginable dynamic and taking into consideration variables often bypassed and ignored by other investigators and teams. He also has the resources to conduct investigations and research that are unprecedented, including truck loads of the latest technology and an army of qualified scientists. Chacon emphasizes how the majority of paranormal events encountered around the world are explainable and the importance of first ruling-out logical explanations. “It is important to keep in mind that the overall investigation (of the Queen Mary),” says Chacon, “as well as each individual event documented, was assessed for psychological, physiological, environmental and circumstantial explanations, to name a few, to rule-out rational and logical explanations.”