Tuesday, August 31, 2010

USS Hornet and GolfLand

Today we visited the USS Hornet, a decommissioned aircraft carrier and floating museum at Alameda Point, on the San Francisco Bay. The USS Hornet (CV-12) was originally commissioned in 1943 to replace the USS Hornet (CV-8) that was lost in service in late 1942.

The USS Hornet tied up at Alameda Point

The USS Hornet (CV-12) survived World War II with an impressive record including over 1400 enemy aircraft destroyed, over 50 enemy ships destroyed and credit for assisting in the sinking of the Japanese super battle ship Yamato. In June 1945, shortly before the end of the war, the deck of the USS Hornet was severely damaged in a typhoon and she was returned to San Francisco for repairs.

With the war ending while USS Hornet was still in dry dock, she saw little more use before being designated inactive and decommissioned in 1947. However, she was to be reclassified as an Attack Aircraft Carrier in 1952 and recommissioned with the new designation CVA-12 in 1953, following extensive upgrades performed at the New York Naval Shipyard.

CVA-12 was upgraded once more in service before being converted to an anti-submarine support carrier and reclassified again to CVS-12, the designation she bore when retired from active service in 1970, after yet more upgrades had been completed to bring her into line with the more modern design of an aircraft carrier, including replacing some of the wooden deck sections with aluminium panels where damage from the heat produced by jet engines was most likely to occur.

F14 Tomcat on the deck of the USS Hornet

The USS Hornet, as CVS-12, was also part of two of the Apollo lunar missions, recovering the crews of Apollo 11 and Apollo 12. Custom built Airstream caravans, built as Mobile Quarantine Facilities were loaded on board for the astronauts to inhabit while returning to port, as the environment of the moon was still very much an unknown factor at that time and the powers that be were concerned about possible contamination effects.

Although the USS Hornet was decommissioned in 1970 and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1991, she was only opened as a museum in 1998 and has been open to the public ever since, with a knowledgeable and enthusiastic team of docents providing tours of the carriers inner workings and answering questions. Today, in addition to working our way through the various parts of CVS-12 that are open to all visitors to the museum, we were also able to take a docent led tour of the carriers Island and Bridge. This is part of the ship that, due to both safety and security concerns, is off limits to unescorted visitors.

After we left Alameda Point, we headed up to the university town of Berkeley for lunch before heading to GolfLand in Milpitas, where we met up with David and Nicole for a round of mini-golf and some time in their arcades.

Part of the course at the GolfLand minifold course in Milpitas

We spent quite a few hours at GolfLand before deciding it was time for dinner, for while we ended up going to the IHOP in Milpitas. IHOP stands for International House of Pancakes, and a lot of their meals come with a side of pancakes, although they're rather filling before you get started on the pancakes.

Tomorrow we're heading up to the state capital of California, Sacramento, to visit Sacramento Vintage Ford, SoCal Customs of Sacramento, to see some of the government buildings and also to do a bit more outlet shopping.

(As you can see, I haven't added photos to this post yet either, however they will be available on LandBarge.com. I'll add photos to this and other un-illustrated posts whenever I have the time to do so.)

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