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NavSource Online: Service Ship Photo Archive

USS Sable (IX-81)


International Radio Call Sign:
November - Yankee - Zulu - Papa
NYZP
Awards, Citations and Campaign Ribbons

Precedence of awards is from left to right
American Campaign Medal - World War II Victory Medal


Training Aircraft Carrier:
  • Built in 1924 as SS Greater Buffalo at American Shipbuilding Co., Lorain OH.
  • Acquired for the Navy, 8 August 1942
  • Converted for Naval service as a Training Aircraft Carrier at the Erie Plant, American Shipbuilding Co., Buffalo, N.Y.
  • Commissioned USS Sable (IX-81), 8 May 1943, CDR. Warren K. Berner, in command
  • Decommissioned, 7 November 1945
  • Struck from the Naval Register, 28 November 1945
  • Transferred to the Maritime Commission for disposal
  • Final Disposition, sold 25 June 1948, for scrapping in Canada, to H. H. Buncher Co., (PD-X-461) for $126,176.00, broken up for scrap 27 July 1948
    Specifications:
    Displacement 6,584 t.
    Length 535'
    Beam 58'
    Complement unknown
    Armament none
    Propulsion
    two compound reciprocating engines
    Scotch boilers
    Ship's Service Generators
    two turbo-drive 75Kw 120V D.C.
    three turbo-drive 100Kw 120V D.C.
    two sidewheels

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    Size Image Description Contributed
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    Merchant Service
    Sable 113k SS Greater Buffalo underway on the Great Lakes prior to World War II.
    Photos courtesy of University of Detroit Mercy Fr. Edward J. Dowling, S.J. Marine Historical Collection.
    These photos are subject to copyright protection unless otherwise indicated. The documents may be reproduced free of charge in any format or medium, provided it is reproduced accurately and not used in a misleading context. The source of the material, the University of Detroit Mercy Fr. Edward J. Dowling, S.J. Marine Historical Collection, must be identified and the copyright status acknowledged.
    Robert Hurst.
    Sable 138k
    Sable 115k
    Sable 245k Post card image of the steamer SS Greater Buffalo. Post card caption reads "NEW STEAMERS GREATER DETROIT - GREATER BUFFALO The two largest steamers of their type in the world, each having 26 parlors with bath; 130 staterooms with toilets; automobile capacity, 125; 650 staterooms; crew of 300 including officers. The cost of these leviathans of the Great lakes is approximately $7,000,000." Tommy Trampp
    Sable 79k Post card image of the Detroit & Cleveland Navigation Company sidewheel excursion steamer SS Greater Buffalo underway.
    Photo from Western New York Heritage Press.
    Robert Hurst
    Sable 92k The sidewheel excursion steamer SS Greater Buffalo getting underway in 1941, location unknown. Detroit & Cleveland Navigation Company side-wheel excursion steamer.
    Photo from Western New York Heritage Press.
    Robert Hurst
    Sable 167k Advertisement for Detroit & Cleveland Navigation Companys' side-wheel excursion steamers SS Greater Detroit and SS Greater Buffalo. During World War II Greater Buffalo was converted for Naval service as a Training Aircraft Carrier and renamed USS Sable (IX-81). Tommy Trampp
    Sable 72k SS Greater Buffalo and SS Greater Detroit cabin diagram. Tommy Trampp
    Sable 159k The steamer SS Greater Buffalo underway, 1 January 1942, prior to its conversion to training carrier USS Sable (IX-81).
    U.S. Navy National Museum of Naval Aviation photo No.NNAM.1996.488.018.010.
    Robert Hurst
    Sable 110k SS Greater Buffalo arriving at Buffalo, N.Y., 6 August 1942, for conversion to USS Sable (IX-81). Note the towering wooden superstructure on top of the low steel hull. Only the latter was retained in the conversion.
    U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command. Photo No. NH 81066, courtesy Shipscribe.com.
    Mike Green
    USS Sable (IX-81)
    Sable
    094608126
    137k Sable (IX-81) fitting out at the Erie plant of American Shipbuilding Co., Buffalo, N.Y., 15 January 1943, during conversion from "SS Greater Buffalo. Note the flight deck is still incomplete, the name "Greater Buffalo" is still on the paddle boxes and the four exhaust funnels have yet to be encasing for two stack arrangement.
    US Naval History and Heritage Command photo # NH 81064
    Bob Canchola
    Sable 399k USS Sable (IX-81) underway, in the Great Lakes, circa 1943-45.
    US Navy photo. Photo and text from "Aircraft Carriers of The World, 1914 to the Present: An Illustrated Encyclopedia" by Roger Chesneau.
    Robert Hurst
    Sable
    094608121
    173k USS Sable (IX-81) moored at Chicago's Navy Pier where she and USS Wolverine (IX-64) were both homeported within the vicinity of NAS Glenview during WWII.
    US Navy photo
    Bob Canchola
    Wolverine 696k USS Sable (IX-81) underway in Lake Michigan, date unknown.
    US Navy photo. Photo and text from "Aircraft Carriers of The World, 1914 to the Present: An Illustrated Encyclopedia" by Roger Chesneau.
    Robert Hurst
    Sable
    094608122
    280k USS Sable (IX-81) moored in Lake Erie ice at American Shipbuilding Co., Buffalo, NY., April 1943.
    US Navy/font>
    Bob Canchola
    Wolverine 55k USS Sable (IX-81) at anchor in Lake Michigan, date unknown.
    US Navy photo
    Robert Hurst
    Wolverine 2027k USS Sable (IX-81) and USS Wolverine (IX-64) newspaper articles. Ron Reeves
    Sable
    094608123
    NA 80-G-387151(1C)
    219k USS Sable (IX-81) in West Grand Traverse Bay, off Traverse City, Michigan, with two TDN-1 drones on her flight deck for tests, 10 August 1943.
    US National Archives Photo # (80-G-387151) (1B), and 90-G-387151, a US Navy photo now in the collections of the US National Archives
    Bob Canchola
    Sable 252k A Naval Aircraft Factory TDN-1 assault drone launches from the flight deck of USS Sable (IX-81) while steaming off Traverse City, Michigan, during flight tests, 10 August 1943. Note this aircraft's unoccupied cockpit. The TDN was intended for use as a television-guided attack drone.
    US National Archives Photo # 80-G-387174, a US Navy photo now in the collections of the US National Archives
    Robert Hurst
    Sable 51k A Naval Aircraft Factory TDN-1 assault drone taxies on the flight deck of USS Sable (IX-81) while a second TDN-1 sits parked by the carrier's island, date unknown.
    US Navy photo.
    Robert Hurst
    Sable
    094608124
    192k USS Sable (IX-81) underway in the Great Lakes with a Wildcat fighter launching from the flight deck in 1945.
    US Navy photo.
    Bob Canchola
    Sable
    094608128
    80k North American SNJ-3 trainer (Bu. No. 01876) taking off from USS Sable (IX-81) in May 1945 during training operations on the Great Lakes.
    US National Archives photo # 80-G-354751, a US Navy photo now in the collections of the US National Archives
    Robert Hurst
    Sable 114k A General Motors FM-2 "Wildcat" fighter upended after a barrier crash on board USS Sable (IX-81), during pilot training in the Great Lakes, May 1945. Another FM-2 is flying past in top center.
    US National Archives photo # 80-G-354753, a US Navy photo now in the collections of the US National Archives
    US Naval Historical Center
    Wolverine 125k USS Sable (IX-81) underway in Lake Michigan, in June 1945 after a Wildcat fighter crashed into the barrier.
    U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command, Photo No. NH 43516, courtesy Shipscribe.com.
    Mike Green
    Sable
    094608125
    253k Port side view of USS Sable (IX-81) underway in the Great Lakes with a Wildcat fighter nosed over on the flight deck, in 1945.
    US Navy photo.
    Bob Canchola
    Sable
    094608120
    NA 80-G-387151
    380k
    Sable 147k USS Sable (IX-81) moored in the icy waters of Lake Michigan at the Chicago Navy Pier in 1945.
    US Navy photo courtesy Shipscribe.com.
    Mike Green
    Wolverine
    094606460
    145k The Great Lakes paddlewheel carriers of the 9th Naval District Carrier Qualification Training Unit (CQTU) at rest and tied up to the Navy Pier on the Chicago waterfront in the 1940s. Though moored at the pier, both USS Wolverine (IX-64) (right) and USS Sable (IX-81) (left) were attached to Naval Air Station Glenview, Illinois.
    Located in Glenview, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, the air base primarily operated training aircraft as well as seaplanes on nearby Lake Michigan during the Second World War.
    Later during the war, NAS Glenview also hosted advanced training in Fleet combat aircraft, primarily for carrier qualification in Lake Michigan aboard the Chicago home ported Sable and Wolverine. Today, the Navy Pier (the long structure in the foreground), is a tourist and entertainment destination with, still intact, lake terminal (lower left).
    Vintage Wings website
    Bob Canchola
    Wolverine
    094606404
    335k The Navy's two Carrier Qualification Training Units (CQTU) on Lake Michigan, USS Wolverine (IX-64) and USS Sable (IX-81) docked at Chicago's Navy pier after World War II. Bob Canchola
    Sable
    094608127
    371k A late model General Motors-built Grumman FM-2 Wildcat in flight over USS Sable (IX-81) which, with no wake evident, appears to be floating dead in the water.
    General Motors/Eastern Aircraft produced more than 5,000 copies of the FM variant. Grumman's Wildcat production line closed in early 1943 to make way for the newer and more powerful F6F Hellcat but, under license, General Motors continued producing Wildcats for both US Navy and Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm use.
    Late in the war, the Wildcat was obsolete as a front line fighter compared to the faster F6F Hellcat or F4U Corsair. However, they were adequate for small escort carriers against submarine and shore threats and for advanced flying training on USS Sable (IX-81) and USS Wolverine (IX-64).
    Reddit website
    Bob Canchola
    Wolverine
    094606456
    52k US Navy Carrier Qualification Training Unit (CQTU) Great Lakes insignia.
    US National Archives photo # 80-G-19618
    Bob Canchola
    Wolverine
    094606462
    366k "Heros on Deck - World War II on Lake Michigan" A one hour documentary of the history and operation of the two fresh water Great Lakes sidewheel paddle steamers converted to the training aircraft carriers, USS Wolverine (IX-64) and USS Sable (IX-81). Bob Canchola

    USS Sable (IX-81)
    Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships (DANFS)
    Commanding Officers
    01CDR. Berner, Warren Kenneth, USN, (USNA 1922)8 May 1943 - 8 March 1944
    02CDR. Schoech, William Alton :VADM8 March 1944 - March 1944
    03CDR. Craig, Kenneth (NMN) USN (USNA 1926)March 1944 - 18 October 1944
    04CDR. Ashford Jr., William Henry :RADM18 October 1944 - 7 November 1945

    Crew Contact And Reunion Information
    U.S. Navy Memorial Foundation - Navy Log

    Additional Resources and Web Sites of Interest

    Additional Resources and Web Sites of Interest
    MARAD Vessel History Database
    Back To The Navsource Photo Archives Main Page Back To The Service Ship Type Index Back To The Miscellaneous Ship (IX) Photo Index
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    This page is created and maintained by Gary P. Priolo
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    Last Updated 17 June 2022