Commodore, The Queen Mary
Queen Mary’s history stretches back more than 80 years, from her keel-laying in 1930 to her launching in 1934 to her military service during World War II to her golden post-war years to her final eastbound Atlantic crossing in 1967 to her residency in Long Beach later that year.
Commodore Everette Hoard has been with Queen Mary for some time, beginning his career in 1981 and taking over as commodore in 2009. His current position is chiefly an ambassadorial role, which includes officiating wedding ceremonies, entertaining VIPs, conducting extensive media work, giving lectures and undergoing historical research.
Given the ship’s long history, she’s had time to accumulate some ghosts. We asked Hoard about some of the history — and the paranormal activity aboard.
Sea: Why do you suppose the ship has a reputation for being “haunted”?
Hoard: In a way the ship is hallowed ground, but certainly if any ship has the right to be haunted it’s this one. Queen Mary is really the only surviving ship of an entire golden age of ocean travel. She carries the soul of all of those ships, if you will.
On Sept. 26, 1934, Queen Mary was launched. The king and the royal family were there, as well as Winston Churchill. I believe King George V spoke the soul into the ship that day. He said these words: “No longer will she be a number on the books, but a ship with a name in the world, alive with beauty, energy and strength. We now have the happy task today to send forth on her way the stateliest ship now in being. May she be a place where the people of all races come together as students and leave as friends.” And then Queen Mary announced the name of the ship, of her own namesake.
There was a psychic who spoke too. Lady Mable Fortiscue-Harrison announced a prediction — it was in all the local papers — that Queen Mary will “know her greatest fame and popularity when she never sails another mile or carries another fare-paying passenger.” What a compelling insight!
What are the spooky stories associated with the ship?
In the 1950s one of the second officers was told by the staff captain that he could stop by his cabin and have a drink. So when second officer Stark got to the staff captain’s cabin, he poured himself a drink from a bottle of gin. Halfway through the drink he realized it wasn’t gin but dry cleaning fluid. He laughed about it and went down to the ship surgeon to make sure he’d be OK. The doctor said he would be fine in the morning. But in the morning, he was literally vomiting up pieces of his stomach and he bled to death.
Another fellow, a young engineer around 18 years old, had only been on Queen Mary for three voyages, after one of the worst seaman strikes to ever hit the Cunard line. He was going down shaft alley on the starboard side, oiling the shaft slot, which had to be oiled by hand. He came to a watertight door, and upon opening the door, for whatever reason, he did not make it to the other side. A one-and-a-half-ton door closed on him and he was found with his arms crossed over his chest and pinned directly in the door. But the door was found to be in perfect working order. To this day no one can conclude what happened to that young man, whose ghost has been spotted in shaft alley time and time again. And if you go down there in the depths of night it’s eerie; you can definitely feel a presence.
Can you tell us about Dark Harbor and what visitors can expect?
With Queen Mary having such a vibrant personality herself in the paranormal aspect, a few years ago we started doing an annual Halloween event, Dark Harbor. The mazes are not only custom built outside the ship, but they go into the bowels of the ship as well, into the former boiler room and all sorts of engineering spaces. Queen Mary, being 80,000 tons, is a giant catacomb of horror! There are some of the best monsters you can imagine running around and sliding across the parking lot. There is food and drink; the R.I.P. Lounge, which has a viewing area of all the festivities outside; and half of a sunken ship in the parking lot, with flames shooting up into the sky.
Aside from the Halloween season, there are different paranormal tours we offer year round. They come in different qualities. Visit QueenMary.com to find out more.