A Swarm of Hornets ~ Tanya Hanson

marryingminda-crop-to-use1A historic fleet of 8 sea vessels named Hornet has kept our country safe since the Revolutionary War.


The Hornets got the name from Deuteronomy 7:20. Basically, “the Lord will send the hornet among them until those who are left and hide from you are destroyed.”

I had the great pleasure last week of climbing on the latest and last Hornet, a World War II aircraft carrier commissioned in 1943. So I’ll be posting pictures of my visit throughout this blog. But let me go back to the beginning.

USS Hornet today, docked on Alameda Island, California.

The first USS Hornet was a merchant sloop sailing out from Baltimore in February 1776. With 10 nine-pounder guns, her job was to patrol the Delaware Bay. In the summer of 1777, she fell to the British near Charleston, South Carolina.

Replica sailor from 1943

In 1805, the Continental Navy saw two Hornets. The first, also a ten-gunner, fought in the Barbary War in North Africa, wrecking a wall at the citadel at Djerma and allowing U.S. Marines to breech it.

Five levels of STEEP ladders and steps freaked me out.

That same year, a brig-rigged sloop, meaning she was actually designed as a warship, was involved in anti-piracy campaigns in the Caribbean. This Hornet sank during a storm at Tampico, Mexico in September 1829.

Three levels of bunks–dibs on the lowest one!

1813’s Hornet, a small 5-gun schooner, was a dispatch vessel from 1814-1820.

Flight deck…how do you take off and land on such a small space?

The fifth Hornet was the first to be steam-propelled. Originally a Confederate blockade runner named the CSS Lady Stirling, she was captured on October 28, 1864 near Wilmington North Carolina. Renamed the USS Hornet in April 1865, the ironclad with side wheels then served in the Chesapeake Bay Squadron. She was decommissioned and sold to a private party in 1869.

Women in the military in WW2 were volunteers. Hornet has a great display of various uniforms.

In 1898, a converted yacht was christened the U.S. Hornet. In concert with two other converted yachts, she succeeded in sinking an entire enemy squadron during the Spanish-American War. The Hornet had no casualties.

On deck, the color of your jacket or vest indicated your job.

In April, 1942, the U.S. Hornet (CV-8) aircraft carrier launched her top-secret mission of B-25 bombers commanded by Lt. Col. James H. Doolittle to attack Tokyo.  With barely 1,000 feet visibility, she left fogged-in San Francisco Bay. Two months later, The Battle of Midway  earned her torpedo squadron a Presidential Citation for heroism. Tragically, she sank after the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands on October 26, 1942.

Torpedo deck. The Hornets were first and foremost ships of war. By the 1960’s, the last USS Hornet, the one I visited, recovered astronauts after their ocean splashdowns.
The first men on the moon!

The last USS Hornet (CV-12) was originally the aircraft carrier Kearsarge. In 1943, she was re-christened in honor of the Hornet (CV-8) lost at Santa Cruz. She launched Pacific raids off her flight deck, served in Vietnam, and recovered the astronauts of Apollo 11 and Apollo 12 after their splashdowns from the moon.


After Splashdown, Apollo astronauts were quarantined in this Airstream trailer in case they’d brought weird organisms back from the moon.

Decommissioned in 1970, she is now both a National and California Historical landmark, and a wonderful museum docked at Alameda Island, California. The USS Hornet is a fabulous way to spend an afternoon, and I heartily recommend it.

My honey peering across the bay to San Francisco.

Have you ever visited a historic ship? Tell us about it!


My first-ever time-travel romance Witchy Woman will be released on October 15 as part of Cobblestone Press’s Octoberfest! Both my modern-day heroine Allie and hero Pack are members of top-secret organizations to protect antiquities. On their way to and from Salem, Massachusetts in 1644 to retrieve a historic ring made of hair, they fall in love (of course!) and save the day (of course!). And of course, it isn’t about witchcraft at all.  If you are willing to read a complimentary PDF copy AND  post reviews, please email me at tanya.hanson@gmail.com



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23 thoughts on “A Swarm of Hornets ~ Tanya Hanson”

  1. I visited ships here in Connecticut and in Massachusetts. I have seen tall ships and visited more in San Diego. I love seeing the ships.

    • Hi Debra, I think they are fascinating to visit….so compact and no nonsense in arrangement. Everything has a place and purpose. Thanks so much for stopping by today!

  2. I got to go on one of the tall ships back in 1976 when USA celebrated 200 birthday was fun to see. Fun to visit a historical ship like this one.

    • Hi Kim, how wonderful! I can’t imagine traveling on the high seas in something made of wood. Our forebears sure were brave. My husband chaperoned our kids and a load of field-trippers to see the replica Golden Hynde when it docked at our local marina on a tour…a few years later, I saw her moored along the Thames. Great fun to relive history. Thanks for stopping by today!

  3. Tanya,

    I’ve not visited any of the war ships, but have visited many riverboats that traveled the Mississippi.

    One of my non-fiction research projects was on a man who learned photography on one of the WWII ships in the Pacific Theater, who was at Iwo Jima and Guadacanal. He also took photos of the signing on the Missouri. These ships and the people who served on them should always be remembered.

    Thank you for the history and the photo journey. Doris/writing as Angela Raines

    • Hi Doris, I could t agree more. We have also visited the Mighty Mo. So inspiring with its Truman line–the president wouldn’t eat fancy, he stood with in the mess line the men. I would love to see a historic riverboat! Thanks o much for commenting.

  4. Hi Tanya,
    These pics are amazing! Love all things historical and I have visited the ship that sits in Boston Harbor, name escaping me. It was from the Rev War and so awesome.

    Hey, did you hear Tim and Faith are doing a tour together? Wanna go maybe?


    • Hi PamT, thanks so much for stopping by today. I know you’ve been on the road. I love historic ships. have been on the water in a number of modern vessels (Pacific Ocean, Lakes Yahoe and Champlain, the Mississippi ) and never gottten seasick but I always wonder how I’d feel on older models lol. xox

  5. I enjoyed your “tour” of the Hornets. I’ve visited the schooner Star of India, anchored in San Diego. I’ve also toured the USS Nimitz, an aircraft carrier, decommissioned now I believe. I’ve also been through Nelson’s ship docked in Portsmith, England. There’s so much history in our sea-going fleets! Truly enjoyable. Cheers

  6. Hi Marilyn, I so appreciate you commenting today. I agree, there is so much to learn from visiting these historic treasures-not just the facts but the lives of the regular people making everything work.

  7. When I lived in Japan as a child, my cousin and my uncle were stationed in Yokohama for a while. We lived up near Tokyo on Tachikawa AFB and took a weekend to go down to see our family. My uncle took us on board his submarine, the U.S.S. Grolier and Wow! what close quarters. Then my cousin took us on board the U.S.S. Midway, an aircraft carrier. I will never forget that. They allowed us to stand on the flight deck which at the time was below the main deck, then they had us hold on while the deck was raised up to become part of the main deck. That was an experience.

    When my brother was in the Navy his ship the U.S.S. Duluth came into port so I went down with some friends and he took us on a tour. I was the last in line going up a ladder to the main deck and my brother said something I didn’t hear. When I stepped out on deck all I heard was “Step out of the circle Miss” and it came from a sailor pointing a rifle at me. My brother said, “I said don’t step over the yellow line into the circle”. I quickly moved out of the circle and later asked my brother if the sailor would have shot me, and he replied that was his job to protect what was under the tarp on the ship. Wow…that was a scary thought, even more so was the vision of the rifle pointed at me.

    Cindy W.

    • Wow, Cindy, what an experience indeed. I could ‘see’ the stuff but have no idea of how it all came together and how long everything took. Much less, the noise, Must have been exciting and terrifying both during war. Thank you so much for posting!

  8. I visited the Hornet over ten years ago. My husband’s union, Operating Engineers Local #3, held one of their semi-annual meetings on the ship. Quite an experience. Anyone who thinks these old warships were elegantly decorated better think again — bare bones and down to the metal. Enjoyed your history of the ships named the USS Hornet, Tanya.

    • Hi Robyn, we noticed a charity group is holding a New Years Eve Party on the Hornet’s deck this year…with big band music and fireworks. Folks wearing 40’s fancy clothes. I think that would be something to go do! Thanks so much for stopping by. I’m glad you enjoyed the post. I also love learning new things! This was a fun one.

    • Hi Robyn, we noticed a charity group is holding a New Years Eve Party on the Hornet’s deck this year…with big band music and fireworks. Folks wearing 40’s fancy clothes. I think that would be something to go do! Thanks so much for stopping by. I’m glad you enjoyed the post. I also love learning new things! This was a fun one.

  9. I think it is nice that there is a continuity in naming ships. It acknowledges the past and ties the present to it. Star Trek Enterprise, though fictional, is a good example going from ships, to space shuttle, to space ship.
    We went on the Kitty Hawk when it was in port in San Diego. A crew member had worked with my husband at Cheyenne Mountain, CO and he gave us a tour of the boat.
    We have gone through the USS Albacore Museum in Portsmouth, NH a couple of times. It is a small sub and is a good example of how cramped the quarters were for the crew.
    We also went through a replica of an early ship like the Mayflower. My husband and I remember touring the boat and several others neither one of us can remember where it was or what ships we toured. There were several different ones we went through. I remember the captain’s cabin, the mates’ quarters, the hammocks for the crew, the cooking area, the hold, and the crew on deck. The memory is very clear for both of us, but the mind evidently stored the location and name too deep to recall. It will probably pop up randomly in a fews days.

    Thanks for an interesting post.

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