Once called ‘The Blue Ghost,’ this old aircraft carrier has a different ghostly reputation today
Ghost Stories Aboard USS Lexington
- The spirit of 'Charlie' is often encountered in the engine room giving people tours
- Sounds of loud, running footsteps can be heard on lower decks
- Disembodied voices and sounds of distant gunfire have been heard without explanation
- Quick moving shadows are often seen darting through the halls
- Smells of cooking food have been encountered in the old ship kitchen
- Loud crashes and bangs of unknown origin have been reported
USS Lexington’s Wartime History
While it was never a theater of war, the sunny and tourist-packed beaches of Corpus Christi, Texas, are home to one behemoth of a war machine. Over 870 feet long, 93 feet wide, and capable of hauling 2,600 seamen, the hulking figure of USS Lexington has graced the Texan shoreline for thirty years.
As a museum ship, the USS Lexington enthralls thousands of visitors every year with tales of life at sea, and the ship’s time in the Pacific Theater of World War II. Unlike most museums however, the USS Lexington’s past as a powerful tool of war has made it a truly immersive exhibit. And following that wartime history has come tales of sailor spirits and airmen apparitions still on board, making the old aircraft carrier one of the most famous paranormal hotspots in all of Texas.
Timeline of USS Lexington's History
Swipe or use timeline points to see USS Lexington through the years
In 1941, when her keel was laid, USS Lexington was USS Cabot, as USS Lexington already existed. But, between construction and launch, Pearl Harbor pulled the US into WWII and the first USS Lexington sank in the Battle of the Coral Sea. In its honor, the new carrier was named USS Lexington and put into service in February 1943, headed for the Pacific.
Unfortunately, her maiden voyage could not avoid tragedy, and her first casualty was 1939 Heisman Trophy winner Nile Kinnick, who was training in flight when his plane careened into the sea.
USS Lexington proved to be an unstoppable force when she reached the Pacific. Through 1943, she aided raids on Tarawa, Wake Island, and the Marshall Islands. In December, Lexington aided the Kwajalein raid where her planes sank a cargo ship, damaged Japanese cruisers, and downed 30 fighters.
But, the Japanese hit her with a torpedo, killing nine sailors. Despite smoke and rising water, Lexington’s crew made her watertight and limped her back to Pearl Harbor. The Japanese thought more of their aim though, and listed the ship as sunk.
She returned to service in early 1944, in time to participate in several attacks on Japanese placements in the central Pacific. She aided attacks at Hollandia and Truk in April, and survived heavy counterattacks entirely untouched, while her defending fighters downed 17 more enemy planes.
But, despite not being struck by a single bomb, the Japanese again listed her as sunk in battle. In fact, it was these numerous erroneous reports of her sinking that eventually led Japanese propagandists to label her, ‘The Blue Ghost.’…
…A few months later, Lexington went on to serve in the Battle of the Philippine Sea. The battle devastated Japanese air strength, with the Allied force downing 300 Japanese planes in a single day.
Over the following months, USS Lexington assisted numerous missions across the Pacific before being given her most important assignment yet: Leyte Gulf. The Battle of Leyte Gulf is said to be the largest naval battle in World War II. Under constant attack from Japanese forces, Lexington’s crew sank a battleship and three aircraft carriers.
After winning that pivotal battle, USS Lexington went on to face weaker Japanese defenses throughout the remainder of the war as Axis morale ran as low as their supplies. Even after the war ended, USS Lexington remained stationed in the Pacific to run air patrols around Japan.
Though she did not serve actively in the Korean War, she participated in exercises, practice maneuvers, and search and rescue operations throughout the 1950s.
When the bells of war tolled once again in Vietnam, USS Lexington was called back to service as a training carrier. Even after the Vietnam War ended, Lexington continued to function as a training carrier for years afterwards.
She ended up the last Essex-class carrier in service after USS Oriskany was decommissioned in 1976, and she was later the first ship in the U.S. Navy to have women crew members stationed aboard in 1980.
It wasn’t until 1991 that Lexington was finally decommissioned. Rather than send her to the scrap yard, the US Navy donated her to the City of Corpus Christi to be refitted as a museum ship just off the beach. It has sat in the same place at the beaches of Corpus Christi ever since, greeting crowds of tourists and history buffs year after year.
Sometime into her life as a museum, USS Lexington began collecting stories of eerie happenings on board. Soon after, the carrier became the talk of paranormal enthusiasts across Texas.
Ghosts of War Linger in USS Lexington
Workers at the museum often say they will have small objects like pen caps disappear on them, only to reappear in strange places.
Others have reported sounds that they figure are residual events from the ship’s life in wartime, including sprinting footsteps darting across lower decks, sometimes coupled with strange shadow figures. Could these be spectral soldiers rushing to man their battle stations?
Spirits Earn Their Sea Legs on USS Lexington
Others still have encountered disembodied voices and the sounds of distant gunfire, furthering some people’s belief that the ship is haunted by sailors who were killed in action during World War II.
Smells of cooking food have been reported from the old galley long after the last meal was cooked there, and unexplained crashes and bangs are often heard, as if the ship were still battling rough seas. Perhaps a former ship cook is still wrestling with his rocking and swaying kitchen from the afterlife?
USS Lexington: A True Blue Ghost
So many people have experienced possible paranormal happenings on the ship that some now visit just for the chance to see something spooky happen on one of the decks. The ship also hosts a haunted house regularly, aptly named the ‘Haunting on the Blue Ghost.’
Paranormal tours and overnight paranormal investigations are also hosted for those interested and brave enough to spend a night amongst the seafaring spirits. USS Lexington has also been featured in numerous pieces of paranormal media, most famously an episode of Syfy’s Ghost Hunters.
So, though she once gained the moniker of ‘Blue Ghost’ from her wartime survival capabilities, it seems USS Lexington has a few more ghosts expanding her reputation still today.