From CV-12 to CVA-12

In this new photo gallery, we are bringing you 35 photos of USS Hornet, starting with her time in the shipyard going through the modernization program, to her re-commissioning ceremony and later shakedown cruises in late 1953 and early 1954, all before her first World Cruise as CVA-12 in 1954.

After World War II, USS Hornet CV-12 was decommissioned on January 15th, 1947 in San Francisco and mothballed as part of the Pacific Reserve Fleet.

With the Cold War tensions heating up in the 50s and an active war in Korea, the US Navy decided to reactivate and modernize most of the Essex class carriers that were still in the Reserve Fleets. USS Hornet was chosen to undergo her first extensive modernization and upgrade program, that would prepare her for the new and much heavier and faster jet fighters the US Navy had started to use in the 50s.

The  Ship Characteristics Board Project 27 sub-type A, or SCB-27A, was the name for this modernization project. SCB-27A, along with numerous other updates and changes all around the hull, would mainly be focused on new catapults, reinforced flight decks, stronger and larger elevators, and new arresting gear. USS Hornet’s modernization was undertaken by New York Naval Shipyard in Brooklyn, New York, starting in May, 1951. After more than 2 years, USS Hornet was recommissioned and reclassified as an attack aircraft carrier, CVA-12, on Friday, September 11th, 1953.

These photos are again kindly provided by William L. Ballenger. 

You can find the gallery by clicking this link:

or by following the Photo Gallery link on the main page and then selecting CVA-12 photo collections.

You can read more about the SCB-27 programs for the Essex class carriers here:


Apollo-12 Recovery Photos

Here is the second part of our Apollo recovery photo galleries. This time, we are presenting 23 photos from the recovery of Apollo-12 in the Pacific Ocean on November 24th, 1969.

A SH-3D Sea King from HS-4 was the main recovery helicopter with frogmen of UDT-13 on-board. As you can see, it was pretty much the same procedure that Apollo-11 astronauts went through a couple months before; with the frogmen helping the astronauts out of the command module into the Sea King. The astronauts are then flown to Hornet, and into the waiting MQF for the various ceremonies and voyage back home.

You can read more about the Apollo-12 mission here.

These photos were again kindly provided by William L. Ballenger.

You can see the photo gallery here:

or by following the Photo Gallery link in the main page, and selecting CVS-12 in the next view.


Photo Gallery navigation updated!

As we reach our 19th photo album and 1056th photo on, it became quite clear that we would need to modify our “Photo Gallery” section for better navigation. As a result, we are going to start cataloging our photo galleries under ship or period categories in this menu, that you can again access by selecting “Photo Gallery” on the main page:

and you will be able to find individual chronologically-ordered photo albums under their respective categories, such as:

We hope this will make it easier for our visitors to find the photo albums they are looking for.

Please stay tuned, as we will be adding new photo albums and categories in the next few weeks.

Apollo-11 Recovery Photos

USS Hornet CVS-12 was the prime recovery ship for the first 2 lunar missions, Apollo-11 and Apollo-12. In the next 2 updates, we will bring you photos from both recovery missions for USS Hornet.

On July 24th, 1969, after Apollo-11’s command module landed in the Pacific Ocean, an SH-3D Sea King (number 66) of HS-4 and UDT 11 swimmers recovered the astronauts and the command module and brought them back to USS Hornet CVS-12, where Richard Nixon, the President of United States and a host of other dignitaries, NASA personnel and members of the press were waiting for their arrival.

In this first gallery, we are presenting 34 pictures from this momentous day in Hornet’s history. You will see photos of the recovery in the ocean, transfer to the Mobile Quarantine Facility (USS Hornet Museum currently has an MQF on display) as well as the President’s visit and various ceremonies on board the USS Hornet. We have also included photos from the ship’s return to Pearl Harbor with the astronauts and their eventual move back to the USA.

These photos were again graciously provided by William L. Ballenger and will be followed next week with the Apollo-12 recovery photo gallery.

You can view the photos here directly:

or by following the Photo Gallery link in the main page.



Third and final part of our USS Hornet CV-8 photo galleries

With the 40 new photos we are adding today, we are concluding our 3-part series on the wartime service of USS Hornet  CV-8.

These photos cover the time period between April 30th 1942, right after CV-8 returned to Pearl Harbor from the Doolittle Raid (part 2 our CV-8 photo gallery here), and October 26th 1942, when she was sunk during the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands.

This gallery has again been kindly provided by William L. Ballenger.

You can view the gallery here:

or by going to the Photo Gallery section and selecting the “USS Hornet CV-8 World War II Cruise part 3” gallery.

USS Hornet CV-8 Doolittle Raid photos

We are now bringing you 28 photos from USS Hornet CV-8’s Doolittle Raid. This gallery is again coming from William L. Ballenger’s collection, and contain images of US Navy Blimp L-8’s supply run, B-25s and their crew preparing for the raid on the Hornet’s deck, as well as the launch of the raid from other ships in the Task Force. These are all official US Navy photos and we hope some of them might be new to you.

You can find the photos here:

or by going to the Photo Gallery section and selecting the “Doolittle Raid” gallery.

New photo galleries for USS Hornet CV-8 (part 1)

This week we are bringing you the first of our 3-part CV-8 photo gallery. In this collection, there are 28 photos covering CV-8’s construction, commissioning and her first deployment to Pacific. The first collection includes photos from March 3rd, 1941 to February 28th, 1942.

The first aircraft carrier in the US Navy to be named Hornet, CV-8 was laid down on September 25th, 1939, launched on December 14th, 1940. She was commissioned at Norfolk on October 20th, 1941.

In this set, we also have photos of CV-8 with her Air Group before her departure to Pacific, VF-8’s F4F-4 Wildcats, VB-8’s SBC-4 Helldivers and VT-8’s TBD-1 Devastators.

You can find the photos here: or by going to the Photo Gallery section and selecting the “1941 CV-8 part 1” gallery.

These photos were again kindly provided by William L. Ballenger and also include pictures from the collection of Michael W. Pocock (

We will follow up on this set with photos from the Doolittle Raid.

King Neptunus Rex with Royal Family and Royal Kops take domain of Hornet! 1954 CVA-12 Crossing the Line ceremonies

We are now bringing you 44 new images from 2 very special days in 1954, when USS Hornet CVA-12 was crossing the equator on June 24th and 25th, 1954.

The Crossing the Line ceremony is an initiation rite celebrated for hundreds of years in the US Navy, along with many other navies in the world, where sailors making the crossing for the first time, so called “pollywogs”, are transitioned to “shellbacks” after the 2 day event.

You can read more about this great naval tradition here,

This photo collection and accompanying captions have again been kindly provided by William L. Ballenger, himself one of the pollywogs in this cruise. You can see his subpoena and summons to the ceremony in the gallery. Most of the black-white photos are US Navy photos, received through William  D. Matthews. The color photos were provided by Anthony D. Manley and another unidentified donor to the museum.

You can view the photo gallery here or by following the link in the main Photo Gallery.

Frequently Asked Questions Section added!

As part of our continuous improvements to the website, we have added a new section, where we will try to provide answers to your frequently asked questions.

You can find this new section by following this link:

or by selecting the “Frequently Asked Questions” link on our main page.

Please leave us a comment with your questions, issues or suggestions or you can always contact us via email (