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