USS Hornet (CVS-12) Tour

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April 2nd 2011
Published: April 25th 2011
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I had heard that you could tour an aircraft carrier on Alameda island just outside of Oakland, and that one of the more interesting aspects was riding the flight elevator between the hangar and flight decks. I had been meaning to take this tour, and after arrival realized that spending just half a day there was not going to be enough time. Very interesting indeed. Upon arrival, a docent gives you some high level information about what you can see on the ship, the island, the engine room (you must sign up for this as they can only take 15 people at a time down to the one viewable engine room, there are three others, but the engine room tour is done for no additional fee), the hangar and flight decks, the Apollo mission artifacts on board, what could be seen below decks, and that you could easily spend two days seeing everything available on the ship. No question about that, way too much to see in half a day.

There were several raw statistics that I was told on board which were interesting indeed. When fully staffed the USS Hornet would have 3100 crew aboard, which included all aspects of operating an aircraft carrier. The Hornet's flight deck was 2 acres of real estate. Today's Nimitz class carriers have 4.5 acres of flight deck real estate. I saw many compact flourescent lightbulbs had been installed aboard Hornet, and even with the ship in museum mode and not fully illuminated everywhere in the ship (there were clearly areas off limits to the public touring the ship), it still costs $8000/month for its electric bill. The Hornet is a mere 894 feet in length, whereas today's Nimitz class carriers are closer to 1200 feet in length.

I was disappointed to learn that none of the flight deck elevators would be operating this day. They do operate at least one of the flight deck elevators on "living ship" day though, so look for when those days are advertised in case you just have to take a ride on one of the flight deck elevators.

You can find out more information about the ship and touring it here.

Additional photos below
Photos: 41, Displayed: 23


Some security in placeSome security in place
Some security in place

While the USS Hornet is a museum, the USS Cape Mohican (a large barge class ship, was used to provide aide in Haiti after the last earthquake there) is berthed to the immediate left and most certainly active.
Stern of Cape MohicanStern of Cape Mohican
Stern of Cape Mohican

A barge class ship, used most recently in Haiti to provide earthquake relief efforts there.
Cape MohicanCape Mohican
Cape Mohican

It is a pretty large ship
Twin Peaks in the distanceTwin Peaks in the distance
Twin Peaks in the distance

If you look on the land in the distance in the middle of the photo and see that metal structure, that is Twin Peaks. Was a pretty nice day in the Bay area this day.
War BoardWar Board
War Board

This is actually a replica of the real War Board that was onboard Hornet. The real war board sits in the Smithsonian in Pensacola Florida. This is the most impressive of all the war boards from aircraft carriers in WWII, and that is the single reason that USS Hornet CVS-12 was in fact not scrapped after being decommissioned.
Looking AftLooking Aft
Looking Aft

This photo was taken just steps away from the ship's Island, looking aft toward San Francisco.
Looking Aft Within IslandLooking Aft Within Island
Looking Aft Within Island

Looking down from "Vulture Deck" as I recall it was named by the pilots. Named so, since from a pilot's point of view upon landing, the people standing in this area appeared to be vultures, waiting for something bad to happen. With aircraft carrier landings being so difficult in WWII, no wonder.
Looking down on Cape MohicanLooking down on Cape Mohican
Looking down on Cape Mohican

From the Hornet's Island.
Looking ForwardLooking Forward
Looking Forward

From the Hornet's Island.
Flight Control Center (from Vulture Deck)Flight Control Center (from Vulture Deck)
Flight Control Center (from Vulture Deck)

Here you can see the 20 - 30 - 40 on the window, as we as the large red arrow which is to indicate windspeed in Knots.
Chair with a ViewChair with a View
Chair with a View

As I recall, this vantage point was afforded to those actually in command of speed and direction of the ship.
Looking ForwardLooking Forward
Looking Forward

This again taken within Hornet's Island.
Requirement for presence on Flight DeckRequirement for presence on Flight Deck
Requirement for presence on Flight Deck

You had to have one of these vests and be wearing it, to be allowed on the Flight Deck. It was simply too dangerous a place otherwise, and you were not allowed to step foot on the Flight Deck without one.
Guide to Color Coded VestsGuide to Color Coded Vests
Guide to Color Coded Vests

Purple = Aviation Fuels (e.g. "Grapes") Blue = Plane Handlers Green = Catapult and arresting gear crews Yellow = Aircraft Handling Officers Red = Ordnance Crews Brown = Air Wing Plane Captains White = Air Wing Quality Control Personnel
Port Side CatapultPort Side Catapult
Port Side Catapult

Looking toward the bow.

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