World War II: USS Cabot (CVL-28)

uss-cabot-cvl-28-1945.jpg
USS Cabot (CVL-28), 1945. Photograph Source: Public Domain

USS Cabot (CVL-28) - Overview:

  • Nation: United States
  • Type: Aircraft Carrier
  • Shipyard: New York Shipbuilding Corporation
  • Laid Down: March 16, 1942
  • Launched: April 4, 1943
  • Commissioned: July 24, 1943
  • Fate: Sold for scrap, 2002

USS Cabot (CVL-28) - Specifications

  • Displacement: 11,000 tons 
  • Length: 622 ft., 6 in.
  • Beam: 109 ft. 2 in.
  • Draft: 26 ft.
  • Propulsion: Four boilers powering 4 General Electric turbines, 4 × shafts
  • Speed: 32 knots
  • Complement: 1,569 men

USS Cabot (CVL-28) - Armament

  • 26 × Bofors 40 mm guns

Aircraft

  • 30-45 aircraft

USS Cabot (CVL-28) - Design:

With World War II ongoing in Europe and increasing issues with Japan, US President Franklin D. Roosevelt grew concerned by the fact that the US Navy did not anticipate any new aircraft carriers to be commissioned prior to 1944.  Due to this, in 1941, he directed the General Board to assess whether any of the light cruisers then being built could be altered into carriers to reinforce the fleet's Lexington- and Yorktown-class ships.  Finishing their work on October 13, the General Board stated that while such conversions were possible, the level of compromise required would significantly reduce their effectiveness.  As a past Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Roosevelt pressed the issue and ordered the Bureau of Ships (BuShips) to conduct a second study.

Completed on October 25, BuShips reported that such alterations could occur and, while the ships would have limited abilities relative to existing fleet carriers, they could be finished much faster.  Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7 and US entry into World War II, the US Navy sped up the construction of the new Essex-class fleet carriers and elected to convert several Cleveland-class light cruisers, then under construction, into light carriers.

 As conversion plans were finished, they offered more potential than initially expected.  

Featuring narrow and short flight and hangar decks, the new Independence-class needed blisters to be attached to the cruiser hulls to aid in offsetting the greater weight topside.  Retaining their initial cruiser speed of 30+ knots, the class was decidedly faster than other types of light and escort carriers which permitted them to sail with the US Navy's fleet carriers.  Due to their reduced size, the Independence-class carriers' air groups generally totaled around 30 aircraft.  While first intended to be an even mix of fighters, dive bombers, and torpedo bombers, by 1944 air groups were often fighter heavy.

USS Cabot (CVL-28) - Construction:

The seventh ship of the new class, USS Cabot (CV-28) was ordered as the Cleveland-class light cruiser USS Wilmington (CL-79).  Laid down on March 16, 1942 at New York Shipbuilding Corporation (Camden, NJ), the ship was designated for conversion to a light carrier on June 2.  Later in the month, the vessel's name was changed to Cabot in honor of the 15th century explorer and an earlier Continental Navy ship.  Work moved forward and the carrier slid down the ways on April 4, 1943.

  Re-designated CVL-28 on July 15 to identify it as a light carrier, Cabot entered commission on July 24 with Captain Malcolm F. Schoeffel in command.  Conducting shakedown operations later that summer, the new carrier embarked Air Group 31 at Naval Station Quonset Point before sailing for Pearl Harbor on November 8.

USS Cabot (CVL-28) - Into the Pacific:

Pausing briefly in Hawaiian waters, Cabot pushed on to Majuro where it joined Rear Admiral Marc A. Mitscher's Task Force 58 (Fast Carrier Task Force) in January.  Sailing with TF 58, the carrier provided cover during the landings on Kwajalein later that month and into February.  In the middle of the month, Cabot's aircraft took part in a series of raids against the Japanese fleet anchorage at Truk.  After a brief repair period at Pearl Harbor, the carrier rejoined TF 58 for strikes against Japanese forces in Palau, Yap, and Woleai.

  Moving south in late April, Cabot aided in protecting General Douglas MacArthur's landings at Hollandia, New Guinea.  Completing this assignment, the carrier attacked Truk, Satawan, and Ponape en route back to Majuro.

Sailing on June 6, Cabot and TF 58 steered for the Marianas.  Commencing strikes against targets in those islands a few days later, it also aided in covering the landings on Saipan on June 15.  Remaining offshore, Cabot's planes continued to attack targets in the area.  On June 19-20, the carrier took part in the Battle of the Philippine Sea as Admiral Jisaburo Ozawa sought to interrupt the Allied campaign.  A one-sided victory for the Allies, the fighting saw three Japanese carriers destroyed and over 600 aircraft eliminated.  Remaining in the Marianas into August, Cabot then moved south to begin conducting raids in support of the Allied return to the Philippines.  Embarking Air Group 29 on October 6, the carrier mounted attacks on Okinawa and Formosa early in the month before covering the withdraw of the cruisers USS Canberra (CA-70) and USS Houston (CL-81) both of which had sustained combat damage.

USS Cabot (CVL-28) - Later Campaigns:

Rejoining Mitscher's carriers later in the month, Cabot was attached to Rear Admiral Gerald S. Bogan's Task Group 38.2 which also included USS Intrepid (CV-11), USS Independence (CVL-22), USS Iowa (BB-61), and USS New Jersey (BB-62).  With this formation, it took part in the Battle of Leyte Gulf on October 23-26.  Remaining in the Philippines after the battle, Cabot continued to support Allied forces ashore on Leyte while also raiding Luzon.

  On November 25, the carrier sustained a hit from kamikaze on its port side while a second exploded nearby.  Despite taking damage and losing 62 killed, Cabot remained on station until receiving orders to undergo repairs at Ulithi.  Out of action for less than two weeks, the carrier resumed combat operations on December 11.

This saw Cabot and other American carriers mount a series of attacks across the South China Sea including strikes against Luzon, Indochina, Hong Kong, Formosa, and the Ryukyus.  Steaming north in February 1945, Cabot conducted raids on the Japanese home islands as well as supported operations against Iwo Jima.  After additional attacks on Japan, the carrier turned south to aid in the invasion of Okinawa.  Finishing this mission, Cabot received orders to make for San Francisco to undergo an overhaul.  In the yard until June, it completed refresher training at Pearl Harbor in July before heading west to rejoin active operations.  Striking Wake Island en route, Cabot arrived at Eniwetok in early August and was there when hostilities ended on August 15.

USS Cabot (CVL-28) - Peacetime & Foreign Service:

After covering occupation force landings around the Yellow Sea with USS Antietam (CV-36) in September and October, Cabot embarked passengers at Guam and made for San Diego.  Arriving on November 9, it was then transferred to the East Coast.  Moving through inactivation operations in late 1946, it Cabot was decommissioned on February 11, 1947.  Recommissioned the following October, the carrier joined the Naval Air Reserve training program and sailed from Pensacola and Quonset Point.

  Largely remaining on the East Coast, Cabot made one European cruise in early 1952.  Returned to reserve status on January 21, 1955, it was re-classified as an aircraft transport (AVT-3) in May 1959.

In reserve until 1967, Cabot was then loaned to Spain where it was renamed Dedalo.  This arrangement was later converted to a sale and the ship left the Naval Vessel Register on August 1, 1972.  Used by the Spanish Navy until August 1989, the ship was then transferred to an American preservation group.  Efforts to convert Cabot to a museum ship ultimately failed and the vessel was sold for scrap in 1999.

Selected Sources

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Hickman, Kennedy. "World War II: USS Cabot (CVL-28)." ThoughtCo, Aug. 29, 2016, thoughtco.com/uss-cabot-cvl-28-2360367. Hickman, Kennedy. (2016, August 29). World War II: USS Cabot (CVL-28). Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/uss-cabot-cvl-28-2360367 Hickman, Kennedy. "World War II: USS Cabot (CVL-28)." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/uss-cabot-cvl-28-2360367 (accessed December 14, 2017).