USS Hornet (CV-8)

Yorktown-class aircraft carrier lost to Japanese attacks during the Battle of Santa Cruz in 1943.
by Matthew Anderson

Year Built


Year Sank




Difficulty Level


USS Hornet (CV-8)

Wreck Location

~ GPS Shipwreck Location ~
Latitude:   -8° 38' 22.9992" S      Longitude:   166° 42' 33.9984" E


In May 1942, the United States Naval Intelligence in Pearl Harbor intercepted a message from the Japanese military, underlining a plan to deal a fatal blow to the US Navy in another surprise attack with a force of aircraft carriers and battleships. They were determined to finish what they had started back in December 1941. The codebreakers weren't sure as to where the Japanese were going to attack. Naval command in Midway suspected it would be their base. After a false ruse radioing they were running low on drinking water, Naval Intelligence in Pearl Harbor confirmed Midway was the target when the Japanese sent out a radio message stating their intended target was running low on water. The US Navy then came up with a counter strategy to ambush the Japanese forces before they reached Midway. The plan required the presence of the American aircraft carriers to hold off or destroy the Japanese force. The Japanese proceeded to then invade Attu and Kiska Islands in Alaska in hopes of providing the United States with a distraction. American forces did respond to the invasion, but focus was not taken off Midway.

Admiral Chester Nimitz was in a dire situation. The carriers USS Wasp (CV-7) and USS Ranger (CV-4) were in the Atlantic assisting the Europeans. USS Saratoga (CV-3) had been badly damaged by a torpedo attack off Wake and was undergoing extensive repairs. Her sistership, the USS Lexington, was lost in a devasting air attack during the Battle of the Coral Sea earlier that year and had to be scuttled. USS Langley (CV-1), the nation's first aircraft carrier, had been converted into a sea plane tender with only half her flight deck remaining, not to mention, had also been lost to a Japanese attack in February 1942. USS Yorktown (CV-5), was badly damaged from the Battle of the Coral Sea and needed massive repairs. The only on hand aircraft carriers remaining were the USS Enterprise (CV-6) and USS Hornet (CV-8). Yorktown was immediately brought to Pearl Harbor and in an amazing effort by the repair crews at the damaged base including crews from the damaged USS Vestal, the Yorktown was fixed up to battle ready condition and given surviving airmen from the USS Lexington and transferred airmen from the USS Saratoga. With all three Yorktown-class aircraft carriers ready for engagement by June 3, 1942, the United States prepared to wage what would become the turning point of the Pacific war.

On June 4, 1942, with the American carriers waiting to the northwest of the Japanese fleet, the Japanese force with the carriers Kaga, Akagi, Hiryu and Soryu arrived at Midway and began their attacks. Many of the airmen and carriers in the force had been present at the Attack on Pearl Harbor. The enemy was unaware the United States was waiting for their arrival. American fighters and bombers took off from Midway to attack the Japanese fleet. The fighting began, Unlike Pearl Harbor, the United States was equipped, on alert and ready for action.


Note: This article is under construction. More content will be added as time passes.


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