USS Hornet (CV-12/CVA-12/CVS-12)

"The Grey Ghost"
Pier 3, Alameda Point, California
July 18, 2003

USS Hornet (CV-12/CVA-12/CVS-12), Essex-class fleet aircraft carrier, eighth United States ship to bear the name.  She served in three wars and supported two Apollo moon landing missions between 1943 and 1970.  Acquired by a private group of volunteers in 1995 and converted into a floating museum, Hornet now rests fitfully in the San Francisco Bay.

Alameda Point is located on the grounds of the former Naval Air Station Alameda, California, on the east side of the Bay.  Alameda itself is an island that sits just outside Oakland, California, and is at the geographical center of the San Francisco Bay.  Until its closure in 1997, NAS Alameda, with its huge carrier berths, frequently played home to many of the Pacific Fleet's aircraft carriers.

Emerging from the Webster Street tube and turning west on Atlantic Avenue, you pass through the old air station gate, now unmanned.  Turn left on Ferry Point Street, along the waterfront, and the piers will come into view.  The first ships that you probably will see are a number of gray auxiliary ships with names like Admiral Wm. M. Callaghan, Cape Orlando, and Comet.  These merchant ships are part of the U.S. Ready Reserve Fleet, ready to be activated for tasking by the Military Sealift Command on four days' notice.  In fact, some of the ships moored at Alameda were only recently deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Tied up at Pier 3, opposite the SS Cape Fear (T-AK-5061), is the Hornet.  Visitor access to the ship is provided via a gangplank that leads to the main entrance area in Hangar Bay 1.  The ship has been beautifully restored by museum volunteers, and many spaces on several different decks are now accessible to the curious.

Most of the tours are self-guided, and involve climbing up and down ladders and through hatches.  People who have not spent much time aboard Navy vessels should be careful to mind their heads and shins when passing through hatches and stepping through the "knee-knockers" that separate the compartments of the ship.

The hangar deck's three bays host the orientation area, ship's store, Apollo program exhibits, and departure points for the various ship tours.  There are also a number of static aircraft displays, including an F8U-1/F-8A Crusader, a TA-4J Skyhawk, and, most recently, an F-14A Tomcat.

See more of the hangar deck.

The island is home to many of the critical operations spaces of the ship, including the navigation bridge, pilothouse and auxiliary conn, and primary flight control (Pri-Fly).  Vulture's Row is also located on the island, just below Pri-Fly.

See more of the island:

- Pri-Fly

- Navigation spaces

- Bridge and pilothouse
The flight deck is located three decks above the hangar deck.  Hornet's two bow catapults, the landing area, and a gorgeous view of the San Francisco Bay can be found here.  There are also a number of static aircraft displays, including this immaculately restored Grumman US-2B Tracker.

See more of the flight deck.

The interior decks comprise all of the spaces below the flight deck.  Hornet's decks are numbered beginning with the hangar deck (first deck), with numbers increasing as one proceeds below toward the waterline.  There are also two decks between the hangar deck and the flight deck (O-1 and O-2).  The interior decks are cool and well-lit, and the odor of fresh paint pervades the passageways. 

The second deck is nearly entirely accessible to visitors and includes sickbay, the Marine quarters, air wing spaces and a number of large ready rooms, and the wardroom.  Various spaces on other decks are also open, including the fo'c'sle, on the first deck forward of Hangar Bay 1.

The propulsion spaces, located on and around deck five, is accessible via guided tour.  Volunteer docents lead groups of fifteen people through the Marine quarters, the electrical shop, and down below into the engine room.

See more of the interior decks:

- Ready rooms

- Sickbay

- Propulsion spaces


July 21, 2003  ||  Return to Vulture's Row  ||  Return to Home Page  ||  E-mail
Copyright 2003 Robin J. Lee <>.  All rights reserved.