The USS Hornet is an Essex class naval aircraft carrier that weighs 27,100 tons. It was constructed in Newport News, Virginia and commissioned during the month of November 1943. The Hornet left from the Atlantic Ocean in February of 1944 to fight in the war with Japan.
Action in World War II
The first combat operations in which the Hornet participated were the raids against the Central Pacific islands that were held by the enemy. This was soon followed by the Hornet’s participation in the allied invasion of the Marianas and the Battle in the area of the Philippine Sea in June of 1944. She made attacks that moved further to the west and supported the Palaus’ capture and the Philippines’ recovery. The Hornet’s planes also played roles in the Battle of Leyte Gulf in October of 1944.
During the month of January, 1945, the Hornet came to the Sea of South China to strike on and around Asia’s coast. For the next many months, the Hornet hit the Japanese Home Islands and Formosa and covered the landings on Okinawa and Iwo Jima. In April in 1946, the Hornet’s planes helped to sink the Yamato, an enormous Japanese battleship. Her entire flight deck was damaged by a typhoon in June, necessitating a return to the United States to receive a complete overhaul. After that, the carrier went back and spent 1945 returning soldiers to their home country. After nearly a year of being inactive, the Hornet was decommissioned and became a member of the Pacific Reserve Fleet during January of 1947.
After the War
The Hornet was briefly recommissioned during the month of March, 1951. The ship traveled to New York’s Naval Shipyard, where she was docked for the better part of two years. This is where she received her SCB-27A modernization. The Hornet was able to return as a member of the active fleet during September 1953. It now had a much sturdier flight deck, a newer island, and a newer CVA-12 designation as an attack carrier. In May of 1954, the Hornet started on a cruise of the world. This cruise included a Mediterranean Sea duty and a stint in Asian waters with the Navy’s Seventh Fleet.
On the twenty-fifth day of July in 1954, the Hornet operated in China’s South Sea. During this time, her airplanes shot two of China’s fighters out of the sky. Following a 1955 deployment in the western Pacific, the carrier underwent another modernization. The Hornet took two more tours with the Seventh Fleet in 1957 and 1958.
Over the next decade, the Hornet would continue to support combat operation in the Southeast Asia region. She also helped recover the Apollo 11 and 12 modules after their return to Earth. Officially taken off the Naval Vessel Register in 1989, the Hornet was nearly turned to scrap before being turned into a museum ship anchored in Alameda, California.
Asbestos in Navy Ships
Although an essential component of the naval fleet, even today, aircraft carriers also pose a lasting health risk to soldiers serving on them. Unfortunately, products containing asbestos were common, especially on older ships, because of the material’s high resistance to heat and fire. Despite its value as an insulator, asbestos fiber intake can lead to several serious health consequences, including mesothelioma, a devastating cancer without cure. Current and former military personnel who came into contact with these ships should seek immediate medical attention in order to detect possible health consequences associated with asbestos exposure.