The Haunted Gray Lady of the Sea

Pier 3, Alameda Point, Alameda, California

Over 300 people have died on the USS Hornet. Many of these men have returned, and have been seen going about their daily routines, still serving on one of the most famous decommissioned ships in America's fleet.

Because an aircraft carrier is one of the most dangerous places to work, many of these men died suddenly, before they had a chance to realize what was happening to them. Many paranormal investigators and psychics believe that when the cause of death is this sudden, the spirit of the deceased is trapped between life and death. This appears to be the case for the spectral men of the USS Hornet.

The USS Hornet docked at Alameda, California, is the eighth aircraft carrier to carry the Hornet name. She was also the one who saw the most action and devastation, commissioned in 1943.

Along with deaths from combat, sailors died as a result of walking into propellers, becoming sucked into air intakes, exploded, burned, and maimed; the Hornet also had the highest suicide rate in the Navy.

Today, doors bang open and close by themselves, faint voices are heard responding to orders or just casually talking about how much they miss home, and ghostly crew are commonly seen about the ship.

Three areas in particular are reported to be the nerve centers for the haunting. A crewman who died as a result of a steam accident in the engine room will grasp crew with unseen hands and jerk them away from the massive mechanics; he himself was killed when a burst from a blown steam pipe severed his arm leading him to bleed to death quickly. A Kamikaze pilot captured when he overshot the landing deck on a suicide mission during the war and crashed into the ocean still wails from the holding cell he was kept in during the last month of his life. The crew quarters below deck seem to become especially eerie when you step just past the line marking where tours can and can not go. At the end of the passageway there is a dim, red bulb, indicating that the public is not allowed there. Step just over the line and you might feel someone poke your chest.

The noises and disembodied whisperings, the sightings of crew members long dead, and the alternating hot and cold spots on the ship are no cause for alarm. Other than pulling the occasional visitor out of "harm's way," it is thought that the ghosts of the Gray Lady want only to go about their business, carry out long ago orders, and watch over the current refurbishment of the ship that they called home.

The USS Hornet is one of the best haunted spots to investigate for yourself, as they allow group overnighters through the stay aboard program. Retired crew and other volunteers sleep aboard the ship on three night rotations. The ship is a popular field trip for Cub Scouts and schools.

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3 comment(s) on this page. Add your own comment below.

Sep 28, 2009 7:49pm [ 1 ]

I recently visited the USS Hornet with my husband and 10 year old son. I knew nothing about it except it was an old ship, but I had never heard about it being haunted. Until...... we went down below to the second deck and were looking around in sick bay. First I saw what appeared to be a man sitting at a desk as I walked past a window opening, but when I went to the doorway it turned out to be just a red cross helmet on the desk. Then I started getting an EXTREMELY uneasy feeling going past the surgery room and other exam room, I was also suddenly very nauseated. I started to feel a little panicky and told my husband I didnt like it there and I wanted to leave. That's when he told me that supposedly it is haunted, but I know for sure it is. It was one of the strangest feelings of my life. The rest of the ship seemed fine to me, just the sick bay and crews quarters in the same area. Also I found it freaky the bedding had alot of stains on it like they just left them dirty and some of them had almost fresh blood spots on them. Anyway, that is my experience with the USS Hornet.

Miguel S Aguilar
Nov 5, 2012 11:43am [ 2 ]

I served onboard the Hornet from Dec 1954 to Oct 1957. I spent many hours as a fire-watch at night during all hours on the 2nd and 3rd decks. I never saw anything. I Have visited the ship twice in the last three years and I still have not seen anything. However, I still believe in the existence of spirits or ghosts.

Yesterday, I saw an episode of Ghost Adventures where a spirit gave its name as “Stephens“. Is there any record or research done to determine if in fact a man with that name died at any time during the Hornet’s service?

Thank you

Jessica Collazo
Jan 30, 2017 4:44pm [ 3 ]

Me and my family were planning on going to see a car show in alameda but we funny enought we endend up getting lost and bumped into the uss hornet me and my husband dicided to go into the museum and check it out since we were already there. We had never heard of the ship before but my two girls were so excited to go into the ship. We ended up walking around by ourselves and everything seemed very cool amd interesting. We were enjoying ourselves until we went into the sick bay i was walking infront of my husband when all of a sudden i started to smell something really bad. My husband was recording on his facebook live and you can hear were i say omg what is that smell! And he doesnt smell it them he walks to were i was standing and he saids the same thing then my four year old walks to were we were and asked the same question. I found it a bit strange because my husband wasnt that many feet behind me so why hadnt he smelled that horrible smell untill he stod were i was? I couldnt stand the smell anymore and i ran out that part of the ship. I didnt really think of the ship being haunted or anything like that. Because i hadn't known anything about it until i was on the ship. It was a very strange experience for me. I felt honored to walk were so many that help make our homw a safe place walked. My brother is in the us army so i left that ship that day with alot of respect for thoses who may have died onboard. Because if that was wat i smelled that day it was something that i couldn't explain.

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