Alameda, CA: Touring the USS Hornet CV-12

5 02 2020

My college roommate friend Mike Matthews lives on Alameda Island – this island has quite a variety of things going on. It has a container ship port, an old Navy base, beach access, high tech offices, a very beautiful old town with late 1800’s homes, and a generally fair climate – even in January.20200112_133935

On Sunday we took a tour of the aircraft carrier Hornet with Mike’s son Jake and friends. There were two USS Hornet aircraft carriers in the US Navy during World War II. The first, CV8, was essentially put out of action during the Battle of the Battle of Santa Cruz Islands. Japanese bombs and torpedoes knocked out all her power, and she lay a sitting duck in range of enemy planes. The US Navy scuttled her. The second USS Hornet, CV12, an Essex Class, was an entirely new “superweapon” of World War II. She was one of of 24 such aircraft carriers, each of which could carry 100 WWII planes and travel over 14,000 miles without refueling. The Hornet went 15 months without ever docking in port. She was attacked 59 times and was never hit by a bomb or torpedo. The American Navy, with 24 of these “portable air bases” moving about the Pacific, equipped with their new fighter planes, brought the Japanese Navy down.

The Hornet’s mission continued straight into the Apollo moon program. It was the Hornet that picked up the crew of Apollo 11, with Neil Armstrong, the first human to walk on the moon.  The Hornet handled new jet airplanes in the 1950s – 1960s.

On top, Hornet has its flight deck, and we could see some of the planes out there. Below, the next deck is the hangar deck. On the hanger deck sits some propeller and jet fighter planes. But also there are Apollo and Gemini space capsules. And, super cool, the actual “Decontamination Trailer” the astronauts would go into as soon as they were brought on board.

To see the other decks, we crawled down stairs which were nicknamed “knee knockers” for good reason! Space is tight and they are steep. Down below, we checked out the crew quarters, ship’s store, ready room, the room where pilots would get their mission briefing, and the galley.

There was even a kitchen with “food” that the crew could select. All in all, it was a really interesting museum. Hard to imagine over a thousand people on board!