The USS Hornet (CV-12) is an Essex-class aircraft carrier that served in World War II and Vietnam. The ship also participated in the Apollo Missions, recovering astronauts after their ocean landings. The carrier is now the centerpiece of the USS Hornet Sea, Air, and Space Museum in Alameda, California. Despite a long legacy of proud service, asbestos and USS Hornet also share a history.
The Shared Legacy of Asbestos and USS Hornet Personnel
Asbestos is the commercial term for a group of naturally-occurring minerals. Because it was a cheap insulator with resistance to fire, water, heat, and corrosion, asbestos could be found in virtually all areas of many ships built during the twentieth century, as well as in the aircraft they carried.
Unfortunately, it is now known that asbestos exposure can cause serious illnesses that often do not appear until many years after the exposure. This is why the USS Hornet and mesothelioma, asbestosis, and lung cancer also share a story. Anyone who worked in or around ships containing asbestos was put at risk of developing life-threatening asbestos-related illnesses.
Asbestos and USS Hornet Construction
Construction began on the USS Hornet on August 3, 1942. Many other ships built during World War II contained components with asbestos and USS Hornet construction was no.
The carrier was launched on August 30, 1943 and commissioned on November 29, 1943 under the command of Captain Miles R. Browning, who would later be promoted to Rear Admiral.
The USS Hornet’s Proud Service in World War II
The USS Hornet joined World War II in the Pacific on March 20, 1944. As part of the Fast Carrier Task Force, the ship and her aircraft carried out air raids on critical enemy targets.
Following success at the Battle of the Philippine Sea, the USS Hornet struck additional targets on islands held by the Japanese. The ship supported the troop landings at Leyte on October 20, 1944, and was involved in the Battle of Samar as part of the Battle of Leyte Gulf. The carrier remained in the Philippines through December, striking Japanese airfields and shipping centers.
On December 30, USS Hornet headed for the Caroline Islands, launching air assaults on additional Japanese targets. On January 22, 1945, Hornet’s aircraft gathered surveillance photographs ahead of the upcoming invasion of Okinawa. After attacks on Tokyo on February 10, the carrier moved on to support the troop landings at Iwo Jima.
The USS Hornet next supported the troop landings at Okinawa on April 1, 1945. After assisting in sinking the Yamata, a Japanese battleship, the Hornet remained to support the ground forces at Okinawa. The USS Hornet rode out a typhoon on June 4-5 that damaged approximately 25 feet of the carrier’s flight deck. Repair of that damage was completed on September 13, 1945 in San Francisco. The war over, the Hornet headed out for Operation Magic Carpet to bring American servicemen home from war.
The USS Hornet served 16 consecutive months in the Pacific Theater. During that time, she was attacked 59 times by enemy aircraft. Miraculously, the USS Hornet was never hit. Her planes downed 1,410 enemy aircraft, second only to the aircraft from the USS Essex. Ten of the Hornet’s pilots earned “Ace in a Day” status, with 30 recognized as aces. She received seven battle stars and a Presidential Unit Citation for her World War II service. The USS Hornet was decommissioned on January 15, 1947 and became part of the Pacific Reserve Fleet.
Peacetime to Vietnam to the Space Program to Living History
The USS Hornet (CV-12) was recommissioned briefly on March 20, 1951 and sailed to the New York Naval Shipyard. There, the ship was converted into an attack aircraft carrier. Recommissioned as (CVA-12) on September 11, 1953, the craft participated in training in the Caribbean Sea, toured the globe and participated in peacetime operations in the Indian Ocean and Mediterranean Sea.
At the outset of the conflict in Vietnam, the USS Hornet assisted in the evacuation of Vietnamese people from North to South Vietnam. On December 10, 1955, the ship traveled to San Diego for overhaul work and modernizations. A hurricane bow and new, angled flight deck were among the upgrades.
The USS Hornet continued to operate in the Far East throughout the 1960s. The carrier was often positioned with the Seventh Fleet, supporting the Vietnam War effort.
The Hornet also assisted in the Apollo space program. After the Unites States put the first men on the moon in July 1969, the USS Hornet recovered the astronauts of Apollo 11 from their landing at sea. The ship also retrieved the astronauts of Apollo 12 before Hornet was decommissioned by the U.S. Navy in 1970.
The aircraft carrier was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1991. She now serves as the centerpiece of the USS Hornet Museum. The craft has appeared in both movies and television, including JAG, xXx: State of the Union, Rescue Dawn, and the indie film Carrier. Tales of hauntings onboard the Hornet abound, and the ship has been the focus of several television shows investigating the supernatural.
Asbestos and USS Hornet Personnel: Next Steps for Those Exposed to Asbestos
USS Hornet crewmembers and workers, as well as the families of those who served on the ship, should monitor their health carefully and consult a doctor if they experience any symptoms associated with mesothelioma. Because the USS Hornet and asbestos share a history together, anyone who worked on or around the carrier, and is diagnosed with mesothelioma, should consider contacting a lawyer to discuss their legal rights.
The Nemeroff Law Firm can help. Our nationwide practice is staffed with compassionate attorneys with a combined 150 years of experience in mesothelioma cases. We will fight for the compensation you deserve. Call us today at 866-342-1929 for a free, confidential case evaluation or complete our online form now.