View Full Version : USS Wolverine / USS Sable
These are two of the more overlooked carriers of the US Navy, often not appearing in naval lists due to their nature as training carriers. Originally paddle wheel ferries, their decking was constructed to simulate an aircraft carrier. Both operated on Lake Michigan during WW2. I've included a photo of HMS Wolverine and a Stan Stokes print of one of the carriers. :)
Practice Makes Perfect by Stan Stokes.
Those are interesting pictures. I had never heard of those ships. I have been reading naval history all my life, but I have learned so much since finding this forum. Thanks, ALL.
Glad to be of service John. In all honesty, the photo of USS Wolverine hung around on our 'unidentified' photos pages for a long time, despite us having the actual name of the ship printed on the photo, before an email came through to us with the identity of the ship. I imagine these are relatively well known ships in the Lake Michigan area, but they did not have much (if any) coverage on the web when we were trying to identify the photo.
My father-in-law recieved his carrier training thanks to these old girls. Fortunately for him the war was all but over by the time he reached his Lake Michigan carrier landing training. Talk about landing on a slow "postage stamp"!
Both did give excellent service for the USN's pilot training program; not bad for (even then) old paddle wheel steamers!
http://twaintimes.net/boat/sbpage5.html a link to both a pic, info and small film clip of the training carrier at work. DFO
Here is a small aerial pic of both moored at NAVY PIER in Chicago during WW II. DFO :)
Here is another of the Wolverine.
Here are two of Sable: as a Lakes passenger steamer and during her rebuild to a training carrier. DFO ;)
These two ships did great service during WW II, but were almost unknown outside the naval flying community. These two conversions were made early in the war because the need for all the fleet, light and escort carriers to be operatonal was too great to allow any to be relegated to purely training roles, even the relatively ineffective Ranger. Operating on the Great Lakes meant they were never exposed to enemy action yet had plenty of "sea room" for air ops.
The Wolverine was the former paddle steamer Seeandbee, completed in 1912 by Detroit Shipbuilding. She was acquired by the US Navy on 12 March 1942 and rebuilt with a wooden flight deck and starboard side island. She commissioned on 12 August 1942. Wolverine was stricken on 28 November 1945 and scrapped in 1947.
Sable was also a paddle steamer, the former Greater Buffalo, completed in 1923 by American Shipbuilding of Lorain, Ohio. Acquired by the navy and converted similarly to Wolverine, she commissioned on 8 March 1943 . Also stricken on 28 November 1945, she was not broken up until 1948. (With a huge number of aircraft carriers of all sizes available to the USN, these trainers were no longer needed.)
The ships were referred to as "training carriers" and were sometimes informally given the designations "T-CV," but they were actually listed on the navy rolls as "unclassified vessels" with the designation IX-64 and IX-81 respectively.
Wolverine displaced 7200 tons standard and had a flight deck of 500' x 58' 4". Width of hull was 98' 5" and she had a draught of 15' 5". Four coal-fired boilers generated about 8000 hp and a speed of 16 knots maximum.
Sable was slighly larger at 8000 tons with a 535' 5" x 58' flight deck and a hull width of 92' 2" and the same draft as Wolverine . She was also equipped with four coal-fired boilers generating about 10,500 hp and 18 knots maximum. Sable's flight deck was made of steel, the first such deck in the US Navy.
Both ships had crews of around 300 officers and men.
These ships had no lifts, no hangers, no catapults and no facilities for parking aircraft. Both ships had eight arrestor wires aft. All training aircraft were maintained on land and the ships were strictly for practice landings and takeoffs. The ships also provided basic training for flight deck crews. With low freeboard, they kept pilots on their toes ensuring they didn't drop too low off the bow on takeoff. These relatively primitive ships did excellent work in training pilots for the rigors of landing and taking off on the bigger fleet carriers and escorts.
Found a couple of additional photographs in my file. In the photo of Wolverine, there is a crane barge off her port side.
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