The USS Hornet was a Yorktown class aircraft carrier that was built in Newport News, Virginia. The ship was launched shortly before the start of World War II in October of 1941. During the first four months of her deployment she spent shaking down in the Atlantic Ocean. However, after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor she was transferred to the Pacific in March of 1942.
Action in World War II
The USS Hornet is one of the more famous early war aircraft carriers since it took part in the early strike on the Japanese homeland, the Doolittle Raid. A month later, she launched 16 Army B-25 bombers onto Japan. While this attack did not have any immediate impact, it did have quite a few strategic implications.
After she completed this task, the Hornet was sent into the South Pacific to reinforce that portion of the front. While present in this portion of the war, the Hornet was recalled to Pearl Harbor in mid-May. After leaving Pearl Harbor it was learned that Japanese forces were planning to strike at Midway. That is when the Hornet took part in the Midway battle; her planes ultimately helped in the sinking of the Japanese cruiser Mikuma.
After the battle of Midway the Hornet was sent back to the South Pacific for the fight in Guadalcanal. However, she was the only American carrier in the region for the months of September and October. During the battle of Santa Cruz Islands, the Hornet struck it lucky again with her planes able to attack and badly damage the Japanese aircraft carrier Shokaku.
Destruction at Santa Cruz
Unfortunately during this effort of damaging the Japanese carrier, the Hornet ended up becoming significantly damaged herself. The bomb and torpedo damage was so significant that the ship had to be abandoned at sea. Even though the destroyers that were escorting the Hornet tried to deliberately sink the ship to prevent the Japanese from saying they destroyed her, she remained afloat. That was until the next morning on October 27th when the Japanese ships struck early and managed to sink her with a combination of torpedoes and firing on her.
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.