USS Wolverine (IX-64)
Wolverine at anchor in Lake Michigan on 6 April 1943.
|Builder:||Detroit Shipbuilding Company|
|Acquired:||2 March 1942|
|Commissioned:||12 August 1942|
|Decommissioned:||7 November 1945|
|Renamed:||Wolverine on 2 August 1942|
|Struck:||28 November 1945|
|Fate:||scrapped in December 1947|
|Displacement:||7,200 long tons (7,300 t)|
|Length:||500 ft (150 m)|
|Beam:||98 ft (30 m)|
|Draft:||15.5 ft (4.7 m)|
|Installed power:||8,000 ihp (6,000 kW)|
|Propulsion:||4× coal-fired boilers,
|Speed:||18 kn (21 mph; 33 km/h)|
USS Wolverine (IX-64) was a freshwater aircraft carrier of the United States Navy during World War II. The Navy converted her from a paddlewheeler coal-burning steamer in order to use her for advanced training for naval aviators in carrier take-offs and landings. The Navy decommissioned Wolverine in 1945 and sold her for scrap in 1947.
Wolverine—a side-wheel excursion steamer built in 1913—was originally named Seeandbee, a name based upon
her owners’ company name, the Cleveland and Buffalo Transit Co.
Her builder was the American Ship Building Company of Wyandotte, Michigan.
The Navy acquired the sidewheeler on 12 March 1942 and designated her an unclassified miscellaneous auxiliary, IX-64
conversion to a training aircraft carrier began on 6 May.
The name Wolverine was approved on 2 August 1942 with the ship being commissioned on 12 August 1942.
Intended to operate on Lake Michigan, IX-64 received its name because the state of Michigan is known as the Wolverine State.
Key to her mission was the 550 ft (170 m) flight deck that she received. Wolverine began her new job in January 1943; her sister ship, USS Sable (IX-81), joined Wolverine in May.
In conjunction with NAS Glenview, the two paddle-wheelers afforded critical training in basic carrier operations to thousands
of pilots and also to smaller numbers of Landing Signal Officers (LSOs). Wolverine and Sable enabled the pilots and LSOs
to learn to handle take-offs and landings on a real flight deck. Sable and Wolverine were a far cry from front-line carriers,
but they accomplished the Navy’s purpose: qualifying naval aviators fresh out of operational flight training in carrier landings.
Because Wolverine and Sable were not true carriers, they had certain limitations. One was that they had no elevators or hangar deck.
When pilots used up the allotted spots on the flight deck for parking their aircraft, the day’s operations were over and the carriers
headed back to their pier in Chicago.
Another problem the two carriers had to contend with was (a lack of) wind over deck (WOD). Aircraft such as F6F Hellcats, F4U Corsairs, TBM Avengers and SBD Dauntlesses required certain minimum levels of WOD in order to land. When there was little or no wind on Lake Michigan, operations often had to be curtailed because the carriers couldn’t generate sufficient speed to meet the wind on deck minimums.
Occasionally, when low-wind conditions persisted for several days and the pool of waiting aviators started to bunch up, the Navy turned to an alternate system of qualifications. The pilots qualified in SNJ Texans – even though most pilots had last flown the SNJ four or five months earlier.
End of career
Once the war was over, the need for such training ships also came to an end. The Navy decommissioned Wolverine on 7 November 1945; three weeks later, on 28 November, she was struck from the Naval Vessel Register. Woverine was then transferred to the Maritime Commission on 26 November 1947 for disposal. The last records indicate that the ship was sold for scrapping in December 1947.
Here is a slide show of Black and whites from the times, Sources are the NMNA archives, Library of Congress photo archives, LIFE image archives.
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