Aboard the Hornet
The USS Hornet in Alameda, California, has a storied history – from its service as an aircraft carrier during battle, then picking up the Apollo astronauts after the first moon trip, to its current role as a museum.
It also is said to be one of the most haunted sites that can be easily visited. We went on the ghost tour. We were expecting a standard experience with stories of hauntings and the ship’s history. We got something different.
Our tour was led by two veteran sailors who served during the Cuban Missile Crisis, Vietnam, and in the waters near Korea after the Pueblo was taken. One of them has worked as a docent on the Hornet for over 20 years. They knew the ship inside and out and had several strange experiences. Both the “history and mystery” were fascinating and I returned with new respect for those who actually served. The main stars, though, were the spirits.
We were led to various areas of the ship, where we sat and talked — but the guides also addressed the spirits and encouraged the tour group to do the same. We were told later that things were particularly active — even more so than with the other groups that night — perhaps we were lucky.
In response to questions, either mag lights or the K-II electrical frequency meter often reacted. One of the guides asked if it was the same spirit that had touched someone on another tour — immediately a light went on, with no one standing near it. The same thing happened when a second related question was asked.
When we visited the infirmary my wife learned that Mr. White had been young when he passed, but was content. She felt a particular chill in the burn unit, but even thinking about massive burns gives me the chills. On a lighter side, the spirits seem to have appreciated some of the jokes our guides told.
We put a flashlight on the shelves or tables when we came into a room to talk. One of guides asked the spirits to turn it off because things were a bit too bright. It turned off (after a couple of requests). When he thanked them, the light flashed. No one was within several feet of it and I was looking at it the whole time.
In the secret high security radio room, one of the guides tapped out some code. We asked if there was any who had once sent messages there. One of the frequency meters made a pitched noise that sounded like Morse code, again with no one nearby. I wish I had a recorded it. We were told that was very unusual and it was certainly the only time we heard it on the tour.
I am not certain what to make of the evening. An old friend used to tell amazing stories that defied my belief system. I enjoyed listening to them, I had no reason to doubt that I was being told what he experienced, but I did not have any need to believe or disbelieve him. They were in a separate category. I feel the same way about the ghost tour and don’t feel any need to construct an explanation from either a skeptical or paranormal perspective.
It might be possible to program certain effects into the lighting or meters but I did not see evidence of that, and don’t know how a simple mag light could be that responsive. In the end, I told one of the guides that we had enjoyed the tour. He said that is what it was about.
We plan to return, with the understanding that each tour is different and they make no guarantees that anything will happen. Sometimes things are active, other times they are not. The shortest explanation is that onboard the USS Hornet, anything or nothing might happen. It’s a good place to suspend beliefs.
I think our guides could make the tour interesting even if they just talked about their experiences on aircraft carriers, on patrol in combat, or told corny jokes. The tale about the one time the ship brought beer aboard, and why it was limited to the one time, was worth the admission.
During the tour we asked if either Ellis Richards was there or if the spirits knew him. The answer was “No.”
The Tour Aboard the Hornet