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The USS Hornet Alameda's Haunted Aircraft Carrier

Often called the most haunted ship in history, the USS Hornet rests deceptively still in its berth at the decommissioned Alameda Naval Base.

The USS Hornet CV-12 is the eighth US ship to carry the Hornet name. The first was commissioned in 1775 and battled the British in the Revolutionary war. The second Hornet commissioned in 1805 gained fame in America's battle against the Barbary Pirates and landed Marines on the shores of Tripoli. The seventh Hornet (CV-8) launched 16 Army B-25s to strike the Japanese home islands in one of the most daring raids in the history of warfare, the "Doolittle Raid". She went on to fight at the Battle of Midway and was lost to an overwhelming air attack at the Battle of Santa Cruz.

The eighth USS Hornet, the one currently docked in Alameda, was commissioned in 1943 at the height of the war in the Pacific. She quickly became one of the most highly decorated ships in the Navy. She destroyed 1,410 Japanese aircraft and destroyed or damaged 1,269,710 tons of enemy shipping. Ten Hornet pilots attained "Ace in a Day" status. She supported nearly every Pacific amphibious landing after March 1944 and struck the critical first hits in sinking the super battleship Yamato. Her pilots are also credited with the first strikes against Tokyo since the 1942 Doolittle Raid. During the cold war the Hornet had the honor of recovering astronauts from both the Apollo 11 and 12 missions.

Her impressive record did not come without cost. An aircraft carrier, in times of war or peace, is a dangerous place. Sailors have walked into aircraft's spinning props, been sucked into their air intakes, and blown off deck by their exhaust. Dropped ordnance has exploded, burning and maiming sailors. Snapping flight arrest cables are known to have decapitated at least three men on the USS Hornet. All told, in her 27 years of active service, more than 300 people lost their lives aboard ship. The majority claimed during combat, others from these horrendous shipboard accidents, still others from suicide. The USS Hornet has the dubious honor for having the highest suicide rate in the Navy.

It is, perhaps, the Hornet's tragedy soaked history that has caused it to become America's most haunted ship. Crew and visitor alike have reported an amazing number of strange incidents, sightings, and sounds. Doors opening and closing by themselves, tools that vanish only to reappear after a long search, objects that move across floors or fall off shelves without reason, spectral sailors that move through the ship as if carrying out orders from another age, toilets that flush themselves, eerie presences felt, and feelings of being grabbed or pushed when no one is around.
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