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USS Hornet

Eight ships of the United States Navy have borne the name USS Hornet, after the stinging insect.

The first Hornet was a ten-gun sloop commissioned in 1775, and served in the American Revolutionary War. The first two ships in the new Continental Navy were Hornet and USS Wasp.

The second Hornet was also a ten-gun sloop and took part in the First Barbary War. In company with two other American ships, she attacked the port of Derna and silenced its guns in a battle lasting less than an hour. This allowed a combined force of about 400 American Marines and Arab, Greek and Berber mercenaries who had made a gruelling 400 mile overland march to capture the city - an event immortalized in the Marine Hymn "To the shores of Tripoli".

The third Hornet was a brig-rigged sloop of war was launched on 28 July 1805 in Baltimore and commissioned on 18 October. She fought in the War of 1812 under command of James Lawrence, who gave the Navy their famous motto "don't give up the ship." She captured the privateer Dolphin on 9 July,1812 although the ship was recaptured again shortly afterwards. Hornet assisted in the blockade of HMS Bonne Citoyenne in the harbor at Salvador, Brazil and sank HMS Peacock (18) on 24 February, 1813. On 23 March, 1815 Hornet captured HMS Penguin in a short battle off Tristan da Cunha. This was one of several naval engagements which took place after the war had ended. A month later, on 27 April, she engaged the HMS Cornwallis (74) having mistakenly identified her as a cargo vessel. However, by throwing overboard boats, guns and other equipment she managed to build up her speed to escape unharmed. Following the war, she took part in anti-piracy patrols in the Caribbean. Hornet sank in a storm off Tampico, Mexico on 29 September, 1829 with the loss of all on board.

General Characteristics

The fourth Hornet was a five gun
schooner used as a dispatch vessel between 1813 and 1820.

The fifth Hornet, the first to be steam propelled, was an iron, side-wheeled steamer. She was originally a Confederate blockade runner, Lady Sterling built at Blackwall, England in 1864. She was badly damaged and captured on October 28, 1864 off Wilmington, North Carolina. Following repair and commissioning on April 25, 1865 she mainly operated around Chesapeake Bay. In October 1865, Hornet escorted the Confederate ironclad Stonewall from Cuba to the United States. Hornet was decommissioned on December 15, 1865 and sold into private ownership.

General Characteristics

The sixth Hornet, a converted yacht, was a dispatch vessel in the
Spanish-American War.

The seventh Hornet (CV-8), along with the Enterprise (CV-6), launched the Doolittle Raid in 1942, fought at the Battle of Midway, but was sunk during the Battle of Santa Cruz on 26 October 1942.

The eighth Hornet (CV/CVA/CVS-12) was originally named USS Kearsarge, but renamed in honor of CV-8 and active through the rest of World War II. She later recovered both Apollo 11 and Apollo 12 crews, and is preserved as a museum ship in Alameda, California.

The F/A-18 strike fighter carries on the name Hornet in the Navy.