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Today in Naval History
October 20
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1941 - USS Hornet (CV-8) is commissioned. During World War II, she participates in the Doolittle Raid on Japan, the Battle of Midway, and the Solomon Campaign.
On This day


A boat expedition under Acting Master George E. Hill, with the screw steam gunboat Stars and Stripes, ascends the Ochlockonee River in Western Florida and destroys an extensive Confederate fishery on Marshs Island, capturing a detachment of soldiers assigned to guard the works.


USS Hornet (CV-8) is commissioned. During World War II, she participates in the Doolittle Raid on Japan, the Battle of Midway, and the Solomon Campaign. On Oct. 26, 1942, at the Battle of Santa Cruz Islands, Hornet is severely damaged by the Japanese enemy and abandoned. Though U.S. destroyers attempt to scuttle her, Hornet remained afloat and was sunk by Japanese destroyers early the next morning.


Torpedo bombers (TBF Avengers) from Composite Squadron (VC) 13, then based on board the escort carrier USS Core (CVE-13), sink the German submarine U-378 north of the Azores.


The U.S. Navy lands four Sixth Army divisions ashore on Leyte. Japanese aerial counter-attacks damage escort carrier Sangamon and a few other ships, but do not hinder the landings. Later in the day, Gen. Douglas MacArthur gives his "I have returned" radio message to the Philippine people. If Leyte is lost, the rest of the Philippines will soon follow, so the Japanese prepare to send five strong naval forces to drive off the American fleet and add more troops for the land fighting. In the following days, this response will lead to World War II's biggest and most complex sea fight, the multi-pronged Battle of Leyte Gulf.


USS Lewis (DE-535) takes fire from a radar-controlled enemy gun battery in the vicinity of Hungnam, North Korea. Eighty-four rounds from probable radar controlled guns cause no personnel casualties or damage. Lewis counters with 214 rounds and observes one direct hit followed by smoke and fire. The batteries were silenced.


USS Saipan (CVL-48) begins relief and humanitarian aid to Haitians who are victims of Hurricane Hazel. The operation ends Oct. 19.


ALNAV message 202001Z Oct authorizes naval aviation Sailors and Marines to wear brown shoes and khaki socks with summer khaki uniforms, effective April 1987. Part of naval aviators’ uniforms since 1913, brown shoes had been removed from the uniform regulation in July 1976.


USS West Virginia (SSBN-736) is commissioned at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, GA. It is the third U.S. Navy ship to be named for West Virginia, and the 11th of 18 Ohio-class submarines.


Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) deployed to the Mediterranean and Persian Gulf as the first carrier with women permanently assigned. More than 400 women served aboard at times during the cruise.


USS Howard (DDG-83) is commissioned at Galveston, TX. The first U.S. Navy ship named in honor of Medal of Honor recipient, Jimmie E. Howard, she is the 33rd Arleigh Burke-class destroyer in the U.S. Navy.