Hornet file photo

USS Hornet (Yorktown-class)

CountryUnited States
Ship ClassYorktown-class Aircraft Carrier
BuilderNewport News Shipbuilding & Drydock Co.
Laid Down25 Sep 1939
Launched14 Dec 1940
Commissioned20 Oct 1941
Sunk27 Oct 1942
Displacement19900 tons standard; 25600 tons full
Length761 feet
Beam83 feet
Draft28 feet
Machinery9 boilers, steam turbines, 4 shafts
Power Output120000 SHP
Speed32 knots
Range12,500nm at 15 knots
Crew2919
Armament9x5-in, 4x quad 1.1-in machine guns, 24 0.50cal machine guns
Armor2.5 to 4-in belt, 4-in bulkheads, 2 to 4-in conning tower, 4-in steering gear
Elevators3
Catapults3
Aircraft90

Contributor: C. Peter Chen

The fleet carrier Hornet was commissioned less than a month and half before the United States was drawn into WW2 with the strike on Pearl Harbor. After her shakedown cruise in the Atlantic Ocean, her first mission was to carry and launch the 16 B-25 bombers piloted by James Doolittle's raiders in Mar-Apr 1942. After a short time in South Pacific, she was recalled to Pearl Harbor, then participated in the Battle of Midway in Jun 1942. Her aircraft's battle record against the Japanese aircraft carriers was sub par, but though they redeemed themselves by sinking the heavy cruiser Mikuma. She then participated in the Solomons Campaign. In the latter campaign, during the Battle of Santa Cruz (25-28 Oct 1942), Enterprise's aircraft damaged the carrier Zuiho while Hornet's aircraft damaged carrier Shokaku and cruiser Chikuma. While her aircraft delivered their deadly cargo on the Japanese fleet, she was struck by a Japanese counterstrike. Heavily damaged by bombs and torpedoes, Rear Admiral George Murray transferred his flag from Hornet to cruiser Pensacola. In the early afternoon of 26 Oct, Captain Mason ordered all wounded and non-essential men to be removed from the ship. Kondo put together a smaller aerial strike force than the morning attack to spearhead a second assault that included surface ships. At 1515, the Japanese aircraft reached Hornet, launching six torpedoes. Northampton cut the towing cables and successfully maneuvered to save herself, but the immobile Hornet was struck by one of them, rapidly flooding the after engine room. At 1540 Japanese dive bombers appeared, but all their bombs missed. At 1550, a formation of six horizontal bombers appeared and scored a hit on Hornet's flight deck. At 1702, a small strike force from light carrier Junyo scored a final bomb hit on the carrier's hangar deck. After suffering 111 killed and 108 wounded, she was finally to be scuttled. American destroyer Mustin received the order to launch eight torpedoes at Hornet, and to a great embarrassment, only three hit, and they did not effectively sink the carrier. At 1920, destroyer Anderson fired eight torpedoes as well. Only six of them hit, and Hornet again failed to be sunk. The American ships resorted to using gunfire. After 300 rounds, they failed once again. Hornet finally sank at 0130 on 27 Oct after the arrival of Kondo's fleet at the face of four Japanese 24-inch torpedoes launched from destroyers Makigumo and Akigumo.

An exchange between a pair Hornet survivors supposedly went something like this:

"Are you going to re-enlist?"

"Goddammit, yes! On the new Hornet!"

Sources: Naval Historical Center, the Struggle for Guadalcanal.

Aircraft Carrier USS Hornet (Yorktown-class) Interactive Map

USS Hornet (Yorktown-class) Operational Timeline

20 Oct 1941 Hornet (Yorktown-class) was commissioned into service.
20 Mar 1942 USS Hornet arrived at San Francisco, California, United States.
2 Apr 1942 USS Hornet departed Naval Air Station Alameda near San Francisco, California with James Doolittle and his 16 US Army B-25 bombers on board.
25 Apr 1942 USS Hornet arrived at Pearl Harbor after conducting the Doolittle Raid.
30 Apr 1942 USS Hornet sailed toward Coral Sea, but would arrive too late to participate in the upcoming battle.
11 May 1942 USS Hornet arrived near New Hebrides.
16 May 1942 USS Hornet received orders to return to Pearl Harbor.
18 May 1942 USS Hornet departed Pearl Harbor, US Territory of Hawaii for Midway Atoll.
26 May 1942 USS Hornet arrived at Pearl Harbor, US Territory of Hawaii.
28 May 1942 USS Hornet departed Pearl Harbor, US Territory of Hawaii for Midway Atoll.
2 Jun 1942 USS Hornet made rendezvous with USS Yorktown and USS Enterprise 350 miles northeast of Midway. Rear Admiral Fletcher took overall tactical command of this fleet.
13 Jun 1942 USS Hornet arrived at Pearl Harbor.
9 Aug 1942 USS Hornet patrolled waters near US Territory of Hawaii.
17 Aug 1942 USS Hornet departed Pearl Harbor, US Territory of Hawaii for the South Pacific.
29 Aug 1942 USS Hornet arrived in the South Pacific, replacing damaged USS Enterprise.
5 Oct 1942 USS Hornet launched an attack on Bougainville, Solomon Islands.
27 Oct 1942 USS Hornet was lost during the naval Battle of Santa Cruz.

Photographs

Carrier Hornet, probably at a US east coast port, circa late 1941; note ferry boat and USS North Carolina and USS Hornet, Jan 1942Aft flight deck of USS Hornet while en route to the launching point of the Doolittle Raid, Apr 1942; note USS Gwin and USS Nashville nearbyB-25 bomber on the aft flight deck of USS Hornet, Apr 1942; note USS Gwin in background
See all 67 photographs of Aircraft Carrier USS Hornet (Yorktown-class)



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Visitor Submitted Comments

  1. Anonymous says:
    18 Mar 2010 06:48:31 PM

    My Uncle Leonard (Chick)Chicoine served on the carrier Hornet and survived the sinking of the vessel at the battle of Vera Cruz. He will be celebrating his 100th birthday on April 24. He may be one of the oldest survivors of those who served on the ship as he was 32 when it sank. He was the band director and served as a stretcher bearer during battle conditions.
    Is there any survivors association or system in place to celebrate the birthdays of these elderly sailors who served in WWII? We are preparing a memory book for his birthday and would appreciate any commerative material that could be provided for the celebration.
  2. Todd Kirwin says:
    5 Nov 2010 07:55:42 PM

    Dear Anonymus
    My wifes grandfather served on the Hornet when it was sunk also. Please e-mail me we may have some memorabilia that you may want or we could get you copies of it. His name was Lester A Van Rooy he was an officer we believe.
  3. BB_22Minnesota says:
    18 Nov 2010 11:53:45 AM

    Technicly not a Yorktown, was built as HORNET Class.
  4. Alan LaBerge, RMCS(SS/SW),USN Retired says:
    23 Nov 2010 09:03:27 PM

    My dad survived the sinking, and then meet my mother in Nouema. He served 36 years in the Navy.
  5. Chris Hagerty says:
    15 Jan 2011 03:25:20 PM

    My uncle Joseph F Kirwin of Newport RI was a pilot aboard the Hornet and we have heard stories of his heroism during the sinking. Any information about him would be of great interest to me. Uncle Joe died in 1998.
  6. Anonymous says:
    3 Jun 2011 03:48:02 PM

    My cousin, Nolen Moore was one of the
    survivors of the Hornet. I would love to
    receive any information possible. God bless
    all of you.
  7. Larry E. Barnes says:
    18 Sep 2012 05:17:42 PM

    Seeking any info about Jimmy L. George, from Wichita, Kansas, (mother, Leona George-Pryor, also of Wichita) killed on the U.S.S. Hornett.
    Thank you.
  8. Melissa Burges says:
    28 May 2014 07:23:45 AM

    My Great Uncle Hubert Barbour was lost at sea on the Hornet and I would love to have any kind of information possible about the ship and him.
    Thank You

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More on USS Hornet (Yorktown-class)
Personnel:
» Marc Mitscher
» Stanhope Ring

Event(s) Participated:
» Doolittle Raid
» Battle of Midway and the Aleutian Islands
» Solomon Islands Campaign

Related Books:
» Santa Cruz 1942: Carrier duel in the South Pacific


Aircraft Carrier USS Hornet (Yorktown-class) Photo Gallery
Carrier Hornet, probably at a US east coast port, circa late 1941; note ferry boat and
See all 67 photographs of Aircraft Carrier USS Hornet (Yorktown-class)



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Famous WW2 Quote
"Goddam it, you'll never get the Purple Heart hiding in a foxhole! Follow me!"

Captain Henry P. Jim Crowe, Guadalcanal, 13 Jan 1943