The U.S.S. Hornet is a historic aircraft carrier that has been converted into a museum. The ship stands ready for visitors to explore. She is filled with exhibits, including aircraft, and offers a glimpse into history. The ship served in World War Two and the Viet Nam War. She was also the ship that recovered the first astronauts who walked on the moon.
This World War Two Era Essex Class aircraft carrier was commissioned in 1943 and designated CV-12. CV-12 Hornet was named after the previous carrier CV-8 Hornet, which was a veteran of the Battle of Midway and the Doolittle Raid. CV-8 was sunk on October 27, 1942 in the battle of Battle of Santa Cruz. CV-12 had an outstanding war record. Her aircraft destroyed 1,410 Japanese aircraft and destroyed or damaged 1,269,710 tons of enemy shipping.
She was briefly decommissioned in the late 1940s. However, she was retrofitted to accommodate jets in the early 1950s and returned to service. She went on to serve in the Viet Nam War. The Hornet later became the Prime Recovery Ship for the Apollo 11 Mission.
Now the Hornet has been converted to a museum. Visitors can roam her flight deck where aircraft would take-off and land. They can wander through her hanger deck where aircraft were stored, repaired, maintained, and readied for missions. Throughout the ships are a variety of exhibits.
Knowledgeable docents can be found throughout the ship and provide guided tours of areas that are otherwise not open to the public. Some areas of the lower decks are available for self guided exploration, while examining others will require accompanying a docent’s tour. Tower access requires a docent guide.
Some of the many exhibits are dedicated to aircraft, life aboard the ship, and the Apollo Missions. One exhibit describes the contributions of Americans with Japanese ancestry who served during WWII .
Some access requires going up and down ladders, so the museum is not for the non-ambulatory. I suggest allowing at least two to four hours to explore the museum.
There is a flight simulator on the flight deck which we did not have enough time to during on our visit.
Occasional parties and dances, typically with live big band music, are held on the hanger deck. Overnight family visits are also available. Check their website for a schedule of events.
The museum is open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., with the gates closing at 4:00 pm. The adult admission price is $14. The admission is discounted for children seniors, and military.
The location of the museum has historic significance. In 1942 the earlier aircraft carrier CV-8 Hornet spent time in this same area Alameda. In Alameda land based medium bombers were loaded aboard. And then the ship departed for the Doolittle Raid. The Doolittle Raiders shocked Japan by delivering an attack on Tokyo and other home cities. It proved a moral boost for the United States.
Part of the experience of the U.S.S. Hornet Museum is the lower decks of the historic aircraft carrier. Touring the lower decks of the Hornet is the best way to gain a feel for what life on board was like for the sailors and marines who worked and lived aboard this historic ship. Some of these areas are open for individual exploration. Locations that can be explored on your own include officer’s quarters, the sick bay, the mess hall, a pilot ready room, and the auxiliary emergency generator room. Many places in the lower decks can only be viewed by joining a docent’s tour. Among the many such spots are the brig, the bakery, and the catapult room. The docents will reveal a great detail of information about the ship, its history, and its crew.
The U.S.S. Hornet served as the prime recovery ship for both the Apollo 11 and Apollo 12 moon missions. The Apollo 11 mission was the first manned landing on the moon. Aircraft and divers from the Hornet recovered the crew and space capsule from the ocean at the end of those historic missions.
Several exhibits within the U.S.S. Hornet Museum are dedicated to the Apollo program as well as the ship’s role as recovery vessel. These include static exhibits, space capsules, a “mobile quarantine facility”, and a helicopter.
One of the capsules displayed was used for suborbital space flights to test the heat shield. This capsule was recovered by the Hornet in 1966. Another is a replica of a Gemini capsule. A SH-3H Sea King is on display on the flight deck. This is the same type of helicopter that recovered the Apollo 11 and 12 astronauts.
The Mobile Quarantine Facility that was home to the Apollo 14 astronauts is displayed on the hanger deck. The astronauts were confined to the mobile home after their flight. NASA was concerned that the space explorers might pick up some kind of space germ or contaminant from the moon and devised this trailer to ease their fears.
Other displays include numerous memorabilia, photos, and information regarding the moon missions.
On display on the Hornet are various historic aircraft spanning the operational life of the ship and beyond. These include World War II airplanes, later propeller aircraft, jets, and helicopters. Among the exhibits, only the F-14 Tomcat could not have operated from the Hornet. F-14s entered service after the ship was retired and were also too heavy top be launched from the ship’s catapults.
The aircraft exhibits include both fully restored aircraft as well as some airplane sections. They are located on both the hanger deck as well as the flight deck. It is interesting to see the old carrier planes in the hanger with their wings folded up. Carrier planes have foldable wings to enable easier storage of the planes aboard ship.
I like the Victorian and Queen Anne style homes a lot and there are many in Alameda.
They say Alameda had the highest concentration of Victorian homes on the west coast with over 3000 Queen Anne and Italianate homes and structures built before the turn of the 20th century.
Look how tall and THIN the house is! I was told you can put a bed in there only lengthwise, esp. in the first floor which is even narrower.
The aircraft carrier USS Hornet, retired from active duty and permanently moored as a floating museum at Alameda Point, former site of the US Naval Air Station.