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Wolverine (similar)

Photo of Wolverine

Adaptation of US Navy photo
Displacement 8,000 tons
Flight Deck 535 feet
Aircraft 488 landings/day
Speed 18 knots
VTS Rating   0   0   0 1

Designed as sidewheeler passenger excursion steamers for the Great Lakes, the former merchant vessels Greater Buffalo and Seeandbee were taken over by the US Navy in 1942 for conversion to paddlewheel aircraft carriers. Having a flight deck of similar length to the Independence-class light carriers, these two makeshift carriers could be used to train naval pilots to land on carriers without tying up a fleet combat unit. Their lack of hangar decks gave them an extremely low freeboard, and their coal-fired boilers gave them a slow speed which must have thrilled the trainee pilots. A bill then in Congress, pushed by Roosevelt but "killed" anyway, would have created what we now know as the Saint Lawrence Seaway and perhaps enabled the two carriers to operate farther East. The Sable and Wolverine however, never left Lake Michigan, so they remain the only fresh-water carriers ever built.

In "Grand Fleet" the US Congress approves the Hoover-Bennett bill and co-operates with Canada to build the Saint Lawrence Seaway to open up Great Lakes ports to commerce from the Atlantic. When it opened in 1943 the US Navy decided to combine the Jacksonville operational training facility with the carrier qualifications unit in roughly the same location. Sable hugged the coast of New Brunswick and slowly transferred to Jacksonville via the Inland Waterway. While engaged in training ASW aircraft a U-boat was reported prowling around off the North Carolina coast. The Avenger torpedo bombers using Sable as their landing area for live-ordnance landings took off in search of the sub. A radar-equipped search plane located the sub on the surface, and the Sable's Avengers attacked it with depth charges. The sub got off its own crew and tried to scuttle the ship, but US prize crews flown in by seaplane saved the vessel. Much propaganda was made in the press of the "US Navy Paddles Nazi Sub" story, complete with pictures of the Sable, sidewheels thrashing the water, towing the sub into port. Rabid denials in the Nazi press did nothing to allay the embarassment to the Kriegsmarine.

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