One of America’s most venerated haunted locations isn’t a house. There are no rooms with furniture shrouded in sheets, dark corners of Victorian-era parlors, or musty old stone basements filled with shadows. No, instead, it’s floating in Corpus Christi Bay, right off the coast. Known as the “Blue Ghost,” the USS Lexington was the Navy’s first supercarrier and, according to many visitors, is haunted.
Built during World War II and commissioned in February 1943, the USS Lexington saw extensive service throughout the Pacific Theater. She became the recipient of 11 battle stars and the Presidential Unit Citation. Following the war, she was decommissioned but later modernized and reactivated in the 1950s before operating more as a training carrier at the end of her life. She was decommissioned in 1991, having an active service life longer than any other of her Essex class siblings.
During her active years, Lexington ran up a list of notable accomplishments, although its time spent during World War II, garnered much of those. Operating in the Pacific, Lexington was a major player in the Allied war effort, playing crucial roles in several pivotal battles such as Midway and the Coral Sea. Throughout the war, she stood out with her resilience and tactical acumen. From the Lexington’s deck, her air group engaged in dogfights and carried out airstrikes that helped turn the tide of the war.
It was during this time that she garnered her nickname. It’s unknown exactly where the name “Blue Ghost” originated, but it could be Lexington’s ghostly appearance. Her sleek, blue-gray camouflage made it seem as those she appeared and disappeared amongst the rolling waves of the Pacific. Or, it could be the impact Lexington had on her adversaries, being elusive and delivering devastating strikes. Reportedly, she may have earned the nickname from Tokyo Rose, the famed Japanese propagandist, who reported her sunk four times, only for the ship to return to combat.
During the war, her planes destroyed 372 aircraft in the air and another 475 on the ground, while her guns brought down between 15 and 20 additional planes. However, Lexington also took her fair share of damage and casualties. She endured four major attacks. Two of these are most notable, one in 1943 when she was struck by a Japanese torpedo and again in 1944 when a Japanese kamikaze attack hit the engine room and back of the bridge. While not all were war casualties, 370 men died aboard the Lexington.
Manifestations of spirits via sightings or sounds have been reported hundreds of times by visitors and staff from throughout the ship. People have felt sick in some areas, like the Switch Room; the sounds of footsteps and voices have been heard; the spirits of a Japanese pilot, an American seaman, an Engine Room operator, and others have all been sighted as well. In the Engine Room, hit by the kamikaze pilot, witnesses have even experienced the sounds of men screaming and entities scurrying.
The USS Lexington Museum has embraced its haunted heritage. In collaboration with Castle of Terror Productions, the museum transforms the historic ship into the largest haunted house in South Texas. The “Haunting on the Blue Ghost” is held on Fridays and Saturdays in October plus Halloween; visitors climb down ladders, exploring more than eighty compartments on two decks of the aircraft carrier. Participants should be ready to handle an intense haunted house experience including steep ladders, dark corridors, creaky hatchways and more!
In a less produced experience, guests can reserve “Ghost Tours” of the ship. A trained paranormal guide joins the group, taking them into spaces throughout the ship where there have been reported sightings. Taking place in the evening, aboard a closed ship, there is little other interference from regular visitor activities and noises.
For those brave enough to venture out alone and serious in their interest in paranormal investigation, the museum also offers a “Late Night! Paranormal Investigation.” Participants in these investigations are more hands-off; guests utilize their methods and equipment. Booked at night, visitors will get a brief introduction and lay-of-the-land, from the ship’s paranormal investigator before striking out on their own; the investigation of the ship ends at about 2 a.m.
The USS Lexington Museum can be found permanently docked, just across the ship channel from downtown Corpus Christi. It is also open to the public for non-ghostly guided and self-guided tours as well.