Haunted Carrier USS Hornet
By James Donahue
She is a decommissioned
relic of World War II and the Cold War now, but in her day the aircraft carrier USS Hornet served with an almost unparalleled
The pilots that flew
from her decks are credited with destroying 1,310 Japanese aircraft and sinking or severely damaging 1,259,710 tons of enemy
shipping. The Hornet was involved in nearly every Pacific amphibious landing after March, 1944 and her planes were involved
in sinking the super Japanese battleship Yamato. Hornet pilots also made the first raids over Tokyo
after Doolittle’s early attack in 1942.
The record shows that
more than 300 sailors died on the Hornet during her 27 years of active service. Most perished in combat, but others were killed
in shipboard accidents. The ship also holds a dark record of having the highest suicide rate in the U.S. Navy.
It should be no surprise
then that the Hornet, now moored at Alameda Naval Base, California,
and open to public visits, now holds the distinction of being the Navy’s most haunted ship.
People that work on the
aging ship and visitors as well frequently report visions of sailors at work as if on a fighting ship at sea. Doors open and
close by themselves. Tools vanish and then reappear after a lengthy search. Objects fall from shelves. Toilets flush themselves.
And there are always those “cold” areas where people feel that eerie sensation of not being alone.
In December 2000 Naval
History Magazine published a story by Lily MacKenzie about the ghosts that walk the Hornet’s decks.
One story in the article
was told by an electrician that was among a crew of workers aboard ship in 1955. He said they were all staying on the ship
during their project.
just bunked down, and we had a rule. No exploring. All of a sudden, I heard this banging noise like someone was opening the
hatches,” Derek Lyon-McKeil was quoted as saying. “Peter Clayton, our supervisor, came charging around, saying
‘Okay, who’s sneaking around opening hatches?’ We realized that everyone in the group was there. As we were
all standing there staring at each other, we heard it again.”
The MacKenzie article
quoted another worker, Keith LaDue, who was hired to do some painting. He said he was working 28 feet above the deck on a
scissor lift, and was staying late into the evening trying to get the job finished before climbing back down.
“I started hearing
voices, aircraft crews talking shop talk, dropping tools, and working on airplanes, talking about the airplanes they were
working on, and parts, and home,” he said.