From Luxury Liners to Aircraft Carriers: USS Wolverine and USS Sable


  • Sydney Marie Swierenga East Carolina University


During World War II, over thirty US aircraft carriers supported the war effort. None were more unique than USS Wolverine and USS Sable. Converted from the luxurious Great Lakes passenger steamships, SS Seeandbee and SS Greater Buffalo, into aircraft training carriers, the ships underwent remarkable transformations at a time when America was facing material shortages and desperately needed qualified pilots. The American Shipbuilding Company retrofitted the ships at their docks at Cleveland and Buffalo. The Navy commissioned the USS Wolverine on August 12, 1942, and USS Sable on 8 May 1943, assigning them to Chicago’s Navy Pier. The twin flattops serviced over 136,000 landings and trained over 15,000 pilots. The custom carriers made invaluable contributions to the American wartime naval capacity. The stories of USS Wolverine and USS Sable live on through continued research efforts and exhibits that spark public interest in this amazing program.