|Builder Name||American Ship Building Company, Lorain, Ohio, United States|
|Launched||27 Oct 1923|
|Commissioned||8 May 1943|
|Decommissioned||7 Nov 1945|
|Displacement||6,690 tons standard|
|Machinery||Inclined compound steam engine driving 2 sidewheels|
Contributor: David Stubblebine
ww2dbaseUSS Sable (IX-81) was a training ship of the United States Navy during World War II. Originally built as the Greater Buffalo, a sidewheel excursion steamer, she was converted in 1942 to a freshwater aircraft carrier to be used on the Great Lakes and was used for advanced training of naval aviators in carrier takeoffs and landings.
ww2dbaseThe Greater Buffalo was originally built in 1924 by the American Ship Building Company of Lorain, Ohio as a sidewheel excursion steamer. She was powered by a three-cylinder inclined compound steam engine. She had six passenger decks and carried three funnels along her top.
ww2dbaseOne of the largest ships on the Great Lakes from 1924–1942, Greater Buffalo was acquired by the US Navy on 7 August 1942 to be converted in to a training aircraft carrier. She was renamed Sable on 19 September 1942.
ww2dbaseSable was converted by the American Shipbuilding Company at Buffalo, New York. The upper decks were removed leaving the main deck. Along with additional supports, a steel flight deck was installed instead of the originally planned Douglas-fir wooden deck like what was installed on the Navy’s other Great Lakes sidewheeled aircraft carrier, USS Wolverine. Sable lacked a hangar deck, elevators or armament, as her role was for the training of pilots for carrier take-offs and landings. Sable was commissioned on 8 May 1943, Captain Warren K. Berner in command.
ww2dbaseThe completed Sable departed Buffalo on 22 May 1943 and arrived at her assigned homeport of Chicago, Illinois on 26 May 1943. While sailing out of Chicago on Lake Michigan, Sable acquired the nickname "Sister Sue." Sable and Wolverine were assigned to the 9th Naval District Carrier Qualification Training Unit (CQTU) and used for qualifying pilots for carrier operations. Sable's steel deck was used for testing non-skid material on the flight deck as well as her normal duties. Following the end of World War II, Sable was decommissioned on 7 November 1945 and struck from the Naval Vessel Register on 28 November 1945. She was sold by the Maritime Commission to H. H. Buncher Company on 7 July 1948 and was reported as "disposed of" on 27 July 1948.
ww2dbaseTogether, Sable and Wolverine trained 17,820 pilots in 116,000 carrier landings. Of these, 51,000 landings were on Sable alone. One of the pilots qualified on Sable was a 20-year-old Lieutenant, junior grade, future President of the United States George H. W. Bush. Of the estimated 135–300 aircraft lost during training, 35 have been salvaged and the search for more is underway.
"Wave-Off" (USS Sable Newsletter)
Last Major Revision: Dec 2013
USS Sable (IX-81) Interactive Map
USS Sable Operational Timeline
|27 Oct 1923||Excursion steamer Greater Buffalo was launched at the American Ship Building Company of Lorain, Ohio, United States.|
|7 Aug 1942||Excursion steamer Greater Buffalo was acquired by the US Navy.|
|19 Sep 1942||Excursion steamer Greater Buffalo was renamed Sable.|
|8 May 1943||USS Sable was commissioned into service with Captain Warren K. Berner in command.|
|22 May 1943||USS Sable departed Buffalo, New York, United States.|
|26 May 1943||USS Sable arrived at Chicago, Illinois, United States.|
|18 Oct 1944||Commander William Henry Ashford, Jr. was named the commanding officer of USS Sable.|
|7 Nov 1945||USS Sable was decommissioned from service.|
|28 Nov 1945||Sable was struck from the US Naval Vessel Register.|
|7 Jul 1948||Sable was sold to H. H. Buncher Company for scrapping.|
|27 Jul 1948||Sable was reported as "disposed of".|
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Winston Churchill, 1935