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The HORNET is the first boat to be brought into
the Navy's service. With an overall length of 18' and a beam of just over 5', she is
representative of what was called a small cutter in the 18th century. Her cotton canvas and wooden spar sail rig are also
authentic to the period. With a single mast and sprit spar, the HORNET can carry
over one hundred and twenty square feet of canvas with the jib and main combined.
Her armament consists of a single one-pounder swivel cannon in the bow and a pair of
Built by Charles Hankins and Sons of Lavalette, NJ
sometime in the latter part of the 20th century, the lines of the HORNET can be traced
back to the seventeen-hundreds. In short, the skiff has been employed as a general
work boat throughout our history. Its partially flat-bottomed hull makes for a sturdy landing craft when beached, while its sharp bow
and the rake of its stern allow for efficient sailing and passage through rough surf even
with a heavy payload. She is fast under oars and faster still under sail.
The Navy has also moved forward with its plans to
design and build a full-scale guard boat, one of the twenty-one vessels of this class used
on the Delaware from 1776 through 1778. The name the crew chose for the vessel is
the BASILISK, and its design is being adapted from the flat-bottomed working barge of the
mid-18th century. The PSN has partnered with the Philadelphia Wooden Boat Factory, a
prominent Philadelphia boatbuilder to construct the BASILISK in 2006/2007. Details
on the BASILISK project can be found HERE.
In the spring of 2006 the Navy plans to begin using
a new ship's boat. Similar to the HORNET, the WASP is 18' long and is constructed of
cedar on oak. Restoration began in January of 2006
at the Philadelphia Wooden Boat
Factory where students of the school's advanced boatbuilding class are
working on the boat as part of their ongoing course curriculum. So far the boat's
transom, stem and two of the portside planks have been removed and are in the process of
Last year the Pennsylvania State Navy supplied the Virginia State Navy with
it's first boat - a 16' Hankins Skiff, this one a rowing version of the HORNET.
Built by Charles Hankins in 1972, this boat saw service on the Jersey shore for almost
thirty years before it was acquired by the PSN in October of 2004. The VSN began
restoration to the boat in 2005, and when finished will represent a typical 18th century
In recent months the
HORNET was used in two historical films. PBS debuted their new series "Slavery
And The Making of America" on February 9th & 16th, 2005. The HORNET was
used in Episode 2 of 4, which aired on February 9th from 9-11:00pm. The upcoming PBS
four part documentary on the French & Indian War titled "The War that Made
America" will also feature the HORNET and is due out in January of 2006.