From Luxury Liners to Aircraft Carriers: USS Wolverine and USS Sable
This thesis details the complex conversions of two Great Lakes passenger ships into flattop aircraft carriers in 1942 and 1943, and the subsequent training of thousands of pilots aboard the carriers. The entire US naval fleet in 1942 consisted of eight carriers—all of which were desperately needed to fight the Axis powers on the open oceans. To save time and materials, the Navy elected to convert existing ships rather than build new carriers. Lake carriers did not need massive hulls, armaments, elevators and cabins below deck for plane storage and personnel, but they did need realistic carrier operating conditions. The Great Lakes, especially Lake Michigan, offered wind and wave conditions resembling those found on the open oceans. Navy Pier, in Chicago, provided ideal docking, because it was close to Glenview Naval Air base by air and to Glenview’s satellite airfields where the planes were fielded, and pilots were bunked and fed. Hence, the carriers, Navy Pier, and Glenview had a symbiotic relationship; they each needed the other to allow the group to achieve its fullest potential. In 1942, the Navy requisitioned two of the largest passenger ships on the Lakes, SS Seeandbee and SS Greater Buffalo. American Shipbuilding Company retrofitted the two ships at their firm’s docks at Cleveland and Buffalo. SS Seeandbee’s conversion into USS Wolverine was completed in four months, but retrofitting SS Greater Buffalo into USS Sable took five months longer because the Navy decided to experiment with steel, instead of wood, decking.
Swierenga, Sydney. (June 2020). From Luxury Liners to Aircraft Carriers: USS Wolverine and USS Sable (Master's Thesis, East Carolina University). Retrieved from the Scholarship. (http://hdl.handle.net/10342/8624.)
Swierenga, Sydney. From Luxury Liners to Aircraft Carriers: USS Wolverine and USS Sable. Master's Thesis. East Carolina University, June 2020. The Scholarship. http://hdl.handle.net/10342/8624. September 21, 2020.
Swierenga, Sydney, “From Luxury Liners to Aircraft Carriers: USS Wolverine and USS Sable” (Master's Thesis., East Carolina University, June 2020).
Swierenga, Sydney. From Luxury Liners to Aircraft Carriers: USS Wolverine and USS Sable [Master's Thesis]. Greenville, NC: East Carolina University; June 2020.
East Carolina University