The USS Hornet (CV-12) is an Essex-class aircraft carrier that served the US Navy from 1943 until 1970. First commissioned on 20 November 1943 under the command of Captain Miles Browning, she is the second carrier and ninth naval vessel to bear the name. Today, Hornet is a museum ship, docked at the former Naval Air Station in Alameda, California and open to the general public.
Construction of the Essex-class Hornet began on 3 August 1942. Originally named Kearsarge (which is still stamped on to her keel plate), her name was changed after the loss of the first Hornet (CV-8) during the Guadalcanal campaign in late October. The completed carrier was launched from the Newport News Shipbuilding & Drydock Company just short of thirteen months later.
Repairs and Upgrades
Aircraft carriers must undergo regular maintenance cycles; during much of the Pacific campaign in World War II, Hornet was based out of the naval base on Eniwetok Atoll, where most of her maintenance was carried out.
She underwent repairs for a damaged bow at the Hunter's Point Naval Yard in San Francisco from 7 July until 13 September 1945.
Decommissioned for several years following the end of WWII, Hornet underwent conversion to an attack carrier from May 1951 until September 1953.
In December 1955, Hornet was ordered to the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, Washington for modernization. During this time, she received an enclosed "hurricane bow" and an angled flight deck. She returned to Bremerton in August 1958, where she was converted for anti-submarine warfare.
After shakedown trials off the coast of Bermuda in early 1944, Hornet was ordered to the Marshall Islands in the Pacific, where she joined the Fast Carrier Task Force. Following participation in the reconquest of the Caroline and Marianas Islands, Hornet steamed for the Philippines, supporting the Allied return to those islands. Operating out of naval bases on Eniwetok in the Marshall Islands and Ulithi in the Carolines, Hornet and her air wing conducted raids on Japanese bases throughout the South Pacific, including those on Formosa (present-day Taiwan) and Indochina (Vietnam).
In January, her pilots made photo reconnaissance of Okinawa, the last stop before hitting the Japanese mainland. During the final months of the war, Hornet alternated between support for troop landings on Okinawa and aerial raids on Japan's industrial centers on the mainland.
After the war, Hornet was part of Operation Magic Carpet, transporting veterans home from overseas. She was put into mothballs in San Francisco in January 1947 and remained there until reactivated four years later.
In 1954, Hornet made a circumnavigation of the globe. Traveling by way of the Mediterranean, Suez Canal and Indian Ocean, she joined up with the 7th Fleet in July during a rise in tensions with the People's Republic of China. After a voyage home to the States, Hornet returned to the South Pacific in May 1955. Over the next several years, the carrier spent most of her foreign deployments in the waters off Asia, patrolling the seas from Japan to Vietnam.
During the 1960s, Hornet was regularly deployed to Vietnam. Between these deployments however, she played an instrumental part in the United States space program serving as the recovery vessel for several Apollo flights – including Apollo 11, which was the first manned mission to the moon.
Hornet was retired in June 1970 and laid up at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard for several years. The vessel was struck from the Naval Register in July 1989. Two years later, she was designated a National Historic Landmark. Over the next decade, she was restored and converted into a floating museum exhibit.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Hornet (CV-12)
Although involved in numerous combat actions and targeted for enemy attacks almost 60 times over her sixteen months in combat, during her career, Hornet suffered severe damage on only one occasion. In June of 1945, while operating off the Japanese coast, the carrier ran into a severe typhoon, during which her forward flight deck collapsed. Such damage would have caused asbestos insulate to become friable, exacerbating the usual exposure risk.
Although all of the service branches made use of asbestos-containing products in all sorts of locations and installations, asbestos exposure was much more common aboard ship, and as a result doctors find a larger number of navy mesothelioma cases than in the other divisions of the military. When asbestos insulation is worn or damaged it becomes friable, which means that individual asbestos fibers can break off and escape into the air, where they are inhaled or ingested by ship's crew or shipfitters, increasing the chances of contracting mesothelioma. Once asbestos is inhaled, the fibers become lodged in the mesothelium, a narrow body of cells which surrounds and buffers the body's lungs, heart, and stomach, and in time this infiltration leads to mesothelioma cancer.
Tragically, the mesothelioma prognosis is not usually positive; typically mesothelioma disease patients survive for around a year once the disease is detected. If you or a loved one has been affected by pleural or peritoneal mesothelioma, understand that you have legal options available to you and choosing a well-established mesothelioma lawyer can aid you in deciding your course of action. Accurate information about mesothelioma cancer is not always easy to research, so we've written a mesothelioma information packet with up-to-date information about legal options and choices for medical treatment, along with a list of mesothelioma clinics in the United States. All you have to do is fill in the form on this page and we'll send your packet to you at no charge.Sources
Friedman, Norman. United States Aircraft Carriers: An Illustrated Design History (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1983)
Mooney, James. Dictionary of American Fighting Ships. (Washington DC; Department of the Navy, 1991).