Explore the USS Hornet Apollo Recovery Ship

Moored at Alameda Point (former Naval Air Station Alameda) in San Francisco Bay, the aircraft carrier USS Hornet is a registered State and National Historic Landmark which has been open to the public since October 1998. This magnificent floating museum has the distinction of having participated in two defining historical events in the 20th century – World War II and the Apollo 11 space mission. It is fitting then, that at the official opening of the museum on October 17, 1998, the key speaker was Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin.

In addition to being the principal reason for visiting the museum, the USS Hornet (CVS-12) aircraft carrier, has a number of different types of aircraft on display, both on the Flight Deck and the Hangar Deck of the ship. These include the T-28B Trojan military trainer; the TBM-3E Avenger WWII torpedo bomber; the US-2B Tracker ASW utility aircraft; the TA-4J Skyhawk trainer aircraft; the F8U-1 Crusader supersonic fighter from the Vietnam War era; the S-3B Viking long-range aircraft; and the F14A Tomcat used in the Gulf War (and immortalized in the movie Top Gun).

One of the highlights of the USS Hornet Museum is its Apollo Splashdown Display. When the Apollo 11 moon mission took place in 1969, the USS Hornet CVS-12 was selected as the Prime Recovery Ship (PRS) to retrieve the astronauts when they splashed down. The operation was carried out flawlessly, and four months later the Hornet recovered the crew of Apollo 12 – the second manned mission to the moon. The display documenting these historic events, and other space exploration, includes memorabilia and photographs from the Apollo 11 and Apollo 12 splashdowns; the Sikorsky SH-3H Sea King helicopter used in the filming of the movie Apollo 13; the Mobile Quarantine Facility used by Apollo 14 astronauts; and the Apollo Command Module CSM-011 used for the unmanned suborbital flight test AS-202 in August 1966.

Visitors to the USS Hornet Museum can watch a short video on the ship’s history and take a self-guided tour through the ship. Museum docents are always on hand to answer questions and provide additional information. Moreover, the museum runs a series of “Living Ship Days” where participants have the opportunity to experience an aircraft carrier in action by means of simulated flight operations, mission briefings and meeting former crew.