Escort carrier

The escort carrier or escort aircraft carrier (US hull classification symbol CVE), also called a "jeep carrier" or "baby flattop" in the United States Navy (USN) or "Woolworth Carrier" by the Royal Navy, was a small and slow type of aircraft carrier used by the Royal Navy, the United States Navy, the Imperial Japanese Navy and Imperial Japanese Army Air Force in World War II. They were typically half the length and a third the displacement of larger fleet carriers. While they were slower, carried fewer planes and were less well armed and armored, escort carriers were cheaper and could be built quickly, which was their principal advantage. Escort carriers could be completed in greater numbers as a stop-gap when fleet carriers were scarce. However, the lack of protection made escort carriers particularly vulnerable, and several were sunk with great loss of life. The light carrier (hull classification symbol CVL) was a similar concept to escort carriers in most respects, but were capable of higher speeds to allow operation alongside fleet carriers.

Most often built on a commercial ship hull, escort carriers were too slow to keep up with the main forces consisting of fleet carriers, battleships, and cruisers. Instead, they were used to escort convoys, defending them from enemy threats such as submarines and planes. In the invasions of mainland Europe and Pacific islands, escort carriers provided air support to ground forces during amphibious operations. Escort carriers also served as backup aircraft transports for fleet carriers and ferried aircraft of all military services to points of delivery.

In the Battle of the Atlantic, escort carriers were used to protect convoys against U-boats. Initially escort carriers accompanied the merchant ships and helped to fend off attacks from aircraft and submarines. As numbers increased later in the war, escort carriers also formed part of hunter-killer groups that sought out submarines instead of being attached to a particular convoy.

In the Pacific theater, CVEs provided air support of ground troops in the Battle of Leyte Gulf. They lacked the speed and weapons to counter enemy fleets, relying on the protection of a Fast Carrier Task Force. However, at the Battle off Samar, one U.S. task force of escort carriers managed to successfully defend itself against a much larger Japanese force of battleships and cruisers. The Japanese met a furious defense of carrier aircraft, screening destroyers, and destroyer escorts, proving that CVEs could appear to have the same striking power as full CVs.

Of the 151 aircraft carriers built in the U.S. during World War II, 122 were escort carriers. Though no examples survive to this day, the Casablanca class was the most numerous class of aircraft carrier, with 50 launched. Second was the Bogue class, with 45 launched.

HMS Audacity (D10)
Escort carrier HMS Audacity


In the early 1920s, the Washington Naval Treaty imposed limits on the maximum size and total tonnage of aircraft carriers for the five main naval powers. Later treaties largely kept these provisions. As a result, construction between the World Wars had been insufficient to meet operational needs for aircraft carriers as World War II expanded from Europe. Too few fleet carriers were available to simultaneously transport aircraft to distant bases, support amphibious invasions, offer carrier landing training for replacement pilots, conduct anti-submarine patrols, and provide defensive air cover for deployed battleships and cruisers. The foregoing mission requirements limited use of fleet carriers′ unique offensive strike capability demonstrated at the Battle of Taranto and the Attack on Pearl Harbor. Conversion of existing ships (and hulls under construction for other purposes) provided additional aircraft carriers until new construction became available.

Conversions of cruisers and passenger liners with speed similar to fleet carriers were identified by the U.S. as "light aircraft carriers" (hull classification symbol CVL) able to operate at battle fleet speeds. Slower conversions were classified as "escort carriers" and were considered naval auxiliaries suitable for pilot training and transport of aircraft to distant bases.

The Royal Navy had recognized a need for carriers to defend its trade routes in the 1930s.[1] While designs had been prepared for "trade protection carriers" and five suitable liners identified for conversion, nothing further was done mostly because there were insufficient aircraft for even the fleet carriers under construction at the time. However, by 1940 the need had become urgent and HMS Audacity was converted from the captured German merchant ship MV Hannover and commissioned in July 1941.[2] For defense from German aircraft, convoys were supplied first with fighter catapult ships and CAM ships that could carry a single (disposable) fighter. In the interim, before escort carriers could be supplied, they also brought in merchant aircraft carriers that could operate four aircraft.

In 1940, Admiral William Halsey recommended construction of naval auxiliaries for pilot training.[3] In early 1941 the British asked the US to build on their behalf six carriers of an improved Audacity design but the US had already begun their own escort carrier.[4] On 1 February 1941, the United States Chief of Naval Operations gave priority to construction of naval auxiliaries for aircraft transport.[5] U.S. ships built to meet these needs were initially referred to as auxiliary aircraft escort vessels (AVG) in February 1942 and then auxiliary aircraft carrier (ACV) on 5 August 1942.[6] The first U.S. example of the type was USS Long Island. Operation Torch and North Atlantic anti-submarine warfare proved these ships capable aircraft carriers for ship formations moving at the speed of trade or amphibious invasion convoys. U.S. classification revision to escort aircraft carrier (CVE) on 15 July 1943 reflected upgraded status from auxiliary to combatant.[7] They were informally known as "Jeep carriers" or "baby flattops". It was quickly found that the escort carriers had better performance than light carriers, which tended to pitch badly in moderate to high seas. The Commencement Bay class was designed to incorporate the best features of American CVLs on a more stable hull with a less expensive propulsion system.[8]

Among their crews, CVE was sarcastically said to stand for "Combustible, Vulnerable, and Expendable". Magazine protection was minimal in comparison to fleet aircraft carriers.[9] HMS Avenger was sunk within minutes by a single torpedo, and HMS Dasher exploded from undetermined causes with very heavy loss of life. Three escort carriers—USS St. Lo, Ommaney Bay and Bismarck Sea—were destroyed by kamikazes, the largest ships to meet such a fate.

Allied escort carriers were typically around 500 ft (150 m) long, not much more than half the length of the almost 900 ft (270 m) fleet carriers of the same era, but were less than ​13 of the weight. A typical escort carrier displaced about 8,000 long tons (8,100 t), as compared to almost 30,000 long tons (30,000 t) for a full-size fleet carrier. The aircraft hangar typically ran only ​13 of the way under the flight deck and housed a combination of 24–30 fighters and bombers organized into one single "composite squadron". By comparison, a late Essex-class fleet carrier could carry a total of 103 aircraft organized into separate fighter, bomber and torpedo-bomber squadrons.

The island (superstructure) on these ships was small and cramped, and located well forward of the funnels (unlike on a normal-sized carrier, where the funnels were integrated into the island). Although the first escort carriers had only one aircraft elevator, having two elevators (one fore and one aft), along with the single aircraft catapult, quickly became standard. The carriers employed the same system of arresting cables and tail hooks as on the big carriers, and procedures for launch and recovery were the same as well.

The crew size was less than ​13 of that of a large carrier, but this was still a bigger complement than most naval vessels. It was large enough to justify the existence of facilities such as a permanent canteen or snack bar, called a gedunk bar, in addition to the mess. The bar was open for longer hours than the mess and sold several flavors of ice cream, along with cigarettes and other consumables. There were also several vending machines available on board.

In all, 130 Allied escort carriers were launched or converted during the war. Of these, six were British conversions of merchant ships: HMS Audacity, Nairana, Campania, Activity, Pretoria Castle and Vindex. The remaining escort carriers were U.S.-built. Like the British, the first U.S. escort carriers were converted merchant vessels (or in the Sangamon class, converted military oilers). The Bogue-class carriers were based on the hull of the Type C3 cargo ship. The last 69 escort carriers of the Casablanca and Commencement Bay classes were purpose-designed and purpose-built carriers drawing on the experience gained with the previous classes.

Royal Navy

Originally developed at the behest of the United Kingdom to operate as part of a North Atlantic convoy escort, rather than as part of a naval strike force, many of the escort carriers produced were assigned to the Royal Navy for the duration of the war under the Lend-Lease act. They supplemented and then replaced the converted merchant aircraft carriers that were put into service by the British and Dutch as an emergency measure until the escort carriers became available. As convoy escorts, they were used by the Royal Navy to provide air scouting, to ward off enemy long-range scouting aircraft and, increasingly, to spot and hunt submarines. Often additional escort carriers also joined convoys, not as fighting ships, but as transporters, ferrying aircraft from the U.S. to Britain. In this case, the aircraft cargo could be doubled by storing aircraft on the flight deck as well as in the hangar.

The ships sent to the Royal Navy were slightly modified, partly to suit the traditions of that service. Among other things the ice cream making machines were removed, since they were considered unnecessary luxuries on ships, which served grog and other alcoholic beverages. The heavy duty washing machines of the laundry room were also removed since "all a British sailor needs to keep clean is a bucket and a bar of soap" (quoted from Warrilow).

Other modifications were due to the need for a completely enclosed hangar when operating in the North Atlantic and in support of the Arctic convoys.

U.S. Navy service

Meanwhile, the U.S. discovered their own use for the escort carriers. In the North Atlantic, they supplemented the escorting destroyers by providing air support for anti-submarine warfare. One of these escort carriers, USS Guadalcanal, was instrumental in the capture of U-505 off North Africa in 1944.

In the Pacific theater, escort carriers lacked the speed to sail with fast carrier attack groups, so were often tasked to escort the landing ships and troop carriers during the island-hopping campaign. In this role they provided air cover for the troopships and flew the first wave of attacks on beach fortifications in amphibious landing operations. On occasion, they even escorted the large carriers, serving as emergency airstrips and providing fighter cover for their larger sisters while these were busy readying or refueling their own planes. They also transported aircraft and spare parts from the U.S. to remote island airstrips.

The attack on Pearl Harbor brought up an urgent need for aircraft carriers, so some T3 tankers were converted to escort carriers, USS Suwannee is example of how a T3 tanker hull AO-33 was rebuilt to be an escort carrier. The T3 tanker size and speed made the T3 a useful escort carrier. There were two classes of T3 hull carriers: Sangamon class and Commencement Bay class.[10][11][12]

Battle off Samar

USS Gambier Bay, burning from earlier gunfire damage, is bracketed by a salvo from a Japanese heavy cruiser (faintly visible in the background, center-right) shortly before sinking during the Battle off Samar.

A major battle for these escort carriers was the Battle off Samar in the Philippines on 25 October 1944. The Japanese lured Admiral William Halsey, Jr. into chasing a decoy fleet with his 3rd Fleet. This left aircraft from 16 small and slow escort carriers in three task groups armed primarily to bomb ground forces; along with their protective screen of destroyers and slower destroyer escorts, with "Taffy 3" bearing the brunt of the fight. They faced a Japanese force of four battleships, including the formidable[13] Yamato, eight cruisers, and 11 destroyers. The American ships held off the Japanese.

The slow carriers could not outrun 30 kn (35 mph; 56 km/h) cruisers. They launched their aircraft and maneuvered to avoid shellfire for over an hour. They took dozens of hits, mostly from armor-piercing rounds that passed right through their thin, unarmored hulls without exploding. USS Gambier Bay, sunk in this action, was the only U.S. carrier lost to enemy surface gunfire in the war, and the Japanese concentration of fire on this one carrier assisted the escape of the others. The carriers′ only substantial armament—aside from their aircraft—was a single 5 in (127 mm) dual-purpose gun mounted on the stern, but the pursuing Japanese cruisers closed to within range of these guns. One of the guns caused critical damage to the burning Japanese heavy cruiser Chōkai and a subsequent bomb dropped from one of the task force′s aircraft hit the heavy cruiser′s forward machinery room, leaving her dead in the water. Several kamikaze aircraft were shot down by carrier gunners, with only USS St Lo lost to air attack. The Americans lost a similar number of ships and men to the Battle of Coral Sea and Battle of Midway combined.

Model of Gambier Bay at USS Midway museum

The ships

Many escort carriers were Lend-Leased to the United Kingdom, this list specifies the breakdown in service to each navy.

  • Long Island class: Two ships, one in USN service (USS Long Island) and one in British service (HMS Archer).
  • Avenger class: Four ships, one mainly in USN service (as USS Charger) and three in British service.
  • Sangamon class: Four ships, all in USN service.
  • Bogue class: 45 ships, 11 in USN service, 34 in British service as Attacker class (first group) and Ruler class (second group).
  • Casablanca class: 50 ships, all in USN service.
  • Commencement Bay class: 19 ships, all in USN service, including two that were accepted but not commissioned and laid up for many years after the war. Four more units were canceled and scrapped on the building slips. The Commencement Bay-class ships were seen as the finest escort carriers ever built,[14] and several units continued in service after the war as training carriers, aircraft ferries and other auxiliary uses.

In addition, six escort carriers were produced by the British during the war (all converted from other vessels).

The table below lists escort carriers and similar ships performing the same missions. The first four were built as early fleet aircraft carriers. Merchant aircraft carriers (MAC) carried trade cargo in addition to operating aircraft. Aircraft transports carried larger numbers of planes by eliminating accommodation for operating personnel and storage of fuel and ammunition.

Name Date Nation Displacement Speed Aircraft Notes
HMS Argus 1918 UK 14,000 tons (net) 20 knots 18 converted liner
USS Langley 1922 United States 11,500 tons 15 knots 30 converted collier
Hōshō 1923 Japan 7,500 tons (standard) 25 knots 12 early fleet carrier
HMS Hermes 1924 UK 10,850 tons (standard) 25 knots 12 early fleet carrier
HMS Audacity 1941 UK 5,540 tons (gross) 15 knots 6 merchant conversion[15]
USS Long Island, HMS Archer 1941 United States and UK 9,000 tons 17 knots 15–21 merchant conversions
HMS Avenger, Biter, Dasher, USS Charger 1941 United States and UK 8,200 tons 17 knots 15–21 merchant conversions
Taiyō, Unyō, Chūyō 1941 Japan 17,830 tons (standard) 21 knots 27 converted liners
HMS Activity 1942 UK 11,800 tons (standard) 18 knots 10–15 merchant conversion
Bogue class 1942 United States and UK 9,800 tons 18 knots 15–21 45 conversions of C-3 merchant hulls
USS Sangamon, Suwanee, Chenango, Santee 1942 United States 11,400 tons (standard) 18 knots 31 converted oilers
Akitsu Maru, Nigitsu Maru 1942 Japan (Army) 11,800 tons (standard) 20 knots 8 liners converted to Hei-type landing craft carriers
Campania 1943 UK 12,400 tons (standard) 18 knots 18 merchant conversion
Vindex 1943 UK 13,400 tons (standard) 16 knots 15–20 merchant conversion
Nairana 1943 UK 14,000 tons (standard) 16 knots 15–20 merchant conversion
Rapana class (Acavus, Adula, Alexia, Amastra, Ancylus, Gadila, Macoma, Miralda, Rapana) 1943 UK 12,000 tons 12 knots 3 tankers converted to merchant aircraft carriers
Casablanca class 1943 United States 7,800 tons 19 knots 28 50 built as escort aircraft carriers
Kaiyō 1943 Japan 13,600 tons (standard) 23 knots 24 converted liner
HMS Pretoria Castle 1943 UK 17,400

tons (standard)

18 knots 21 merchant conversion
Empire MacAlpine, Empire MacAndrew, Empire MacRae, Empire MacKendrick, Empire MacCallum, Empire MacDermott 1943 UK 8,000 tons (gross) 12 knots 4 grain carrying merchant aircraft carriers
Empire MacCabe, Empire MacKay, Empire MacMahon, Empire MacColl 1943 UK 9,000 tons (gross) 11 knots 3 tanker merchant aircraft carriers
Commencement Bay class 1944 United States 10,900 tons 19 knots 34 19 built as escort aircraft carriers
Shin'yō 1944 Japan 17,500 tons 22 knots 33 converted liner
Yamashio Maru class 1945 Japan (Army) 16,119 tons (standard) 15 knots 8 converted tanker
Kumano Maru 1945 Japan (Army) 8,258 tons (standard) 19 knots 8–37 Type M cargo ship converted to Hei-type landing craft carrier

Relative carrier sizes in World War II

Bogue-class escort carrier Independence-class light carrier[16] Essex-class fleet carrier[17] Illustrious-class fleet carrier
Length: 495 ft (151 m) 625 ft (190 m) 875 ft (266 m) 740 ft (205 m)
Beam: 69 ft (21 m) 72 ft (22 m) 92 ft (28 m) 95 ft (29 m)
Displacement: 9,800 t 11,000 t 27,100 t 23,000 t
Armament 1x 127 mm, light AA light AA 12x 127 mm, light AA 16x 114 mm
Armor None 50–125 mm 150–200 mm 75 mm deck
Aircraft: 24 33 90 57
Speed: 17 knots (32 km/h) 31 knots (58 km/h) 33 knots (61 km/h) 30 knots
Crew: 850 1,569 3,448 817 + 390

Post-World War II

The years following World War II brought many revolutionary new technologies to the navy, most notably the helicopter and the jet fighter, and with this a complete rethinking of its strategies and ships′ tasks. Although several of the latest Commencement Bay-class CVE were deployed as floating airfields during the Korean War, the main reasons for the development of the escort carrier had disappeared or could be dealt with better by newer weapons. The emergence of the helicopter meant that helicopter-deck equipped frigates could now take over the CVE's role in a convoy while also performing their own traditional role as submarine hunters. Ship-mounted guided missile launchers took over much of the aircraft protection role, and in-flight refueling abolished the need for floating stopover points for transport or patrol aircraft. As a result, after the Commencement Bay class, no new escort carriers were designed, and with every downsizing of the navy, the CVEs were the first to be mothballed.

Several escort carriers were pressed back into service during the first years of the Vietnam War because of their ability to carry large numbers of aircraft. Redesignated AKV (air transport auxiliary), they were manned by a civilian crew and used to ferry whole aircraft and spare parts from the U.S. to Army, Air Force and Marine bases in South Vietnam. However, CVEs were useful in this role only for a limited period. Once all major aircraft were equipped with refueling probes, it became much easier to fly the aircraft directly to its base instead of shipping it overseas.

The last chapter in the history of escort carriers consisted of two conversions: As an experiment, USS Thetis Bay was converted from an aircraft carrier into a pure helicopter carrier (CVHA-1) and used by the Marine Corps to carry assault helicopters for the first wave of amphibious warfare operations. Later, Thetis Bay became a full amphibious assault ship (LHP-6). Although in service only from 1955 (the year of her conversion) to 1964, the experience gained in her training exercises greatly influenced the design of today′s amphibious assault ships.

In the second conversion, in 1961, USS Gilbert Islands had all her aircraft handling equipment removed and four tall radio antennas installed on her long, flat deck. In lieu of aircraft, the hangar deck now had no fewer than 24 military radio transmitter trucks bolted to its floor. Rechristened USS Annapolis, the ship was used as a communication relay ship and served dutifully through the Vietnam War as a floating radio station, relaying transmissions between the forces on the ground and the command centers back home. Like Thetis Bay, the experience gained before Annapolis was stricken in 1976 helped develop today′s purpose-built amphibious command ships of the Blue Ridge class.

Unlike almost all other major classes of ships and patrol boats from World War II, most of which can be found in a museum or port, no escort carrier or American light carrier has survived: all were destroyed during the war or broken up in the following decades. The Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships records that the last former escort carrier remaining in naval service — USS Annapolis — was sold for scrapping 19 December 1979. The last American light carrier (the escort carrier′s faster sister type) was USS Cabot, which was broken up in 2002 after a decade-long attempt to preserve the vessel.

The U.S. designed the Sea Control Ship[18] to serve a similar role; whilst none were actually built, the Spanish Principe de Asturias and the Thai Chakri Naruebet are based on the concept.

See also

For complete lists see:


  1. ^ Hague 2000 p.83
  2. ^ Brown (2000) pp. 62–63
  3. ^ Friedman 1983 p.162
  4. ^ Brown (2000) p. 63
  5. ^ Friedman 1983 p. 165
  6. ^ Evans, Robert L. "Cinderella Carriers". United States Naval Institute Proceedings. August 1976. pp. 53–60.
  7. ^ Friedman 1983 pp. 159–160
  8. ^ Friedman 1983 p. 159
  9. ^ Friedman 1983 p. 176
  10. ^ World Aircraft Carriers List: US Escort Carriers, T3 Hulls
  11. ^ Outboard Profiles of Maritime Commission Vessels, The Tanker Designs and her Conversions, All Drawings by Karsten-Kunibert Krueger-Kopiske 2007
  12. ^, USS Mispillion (AO-105) (1945–1975)
  13. ^ COMINT Declassified Files (.pdf)
  14. ^ Friedman 1983, p. 199.
  15. ^ Brown 1995 p. 173
  16. ^ Brown 1977 p. 63
  17. ^ Brown 1977 p. 61
  18. ^ Sea Control Ship –


  • Adcock, Al (1996). Escort Carriers in Action. Carrollton, TX: Squadron/Signal Publications. ISBN 978-0-89747-356-9.
  • Brown, David (1977). Aircraft Carriers. Arco Publishing Company. ISBN 0-668-04164-1.
  • Brown, David (1995). Warship Losses of World War Two. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-914-X.
  • Brown, D K (2000). Nelson to Vanguard: Warship Design and Development 1923–1945. Chatham Publishing. ISBN 1 86176 136 8.
  • Cox, Robert Jon (2010). The Battle Off Samar: Taffy III at Leyte Gulf (5th Edition). Agogeebic Press, LLC. ISBN 0-9822390-4-1.
  • Friedman, Norman (1983). U.S. Aircraft Carriers. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-739-9.
  • Gallery, Daniel V. (1965). 20 Million Tons Under The Sea. New York: Ballantine.
  • Galuppini, Gino (1981). Le guide des porte-avions. Paris: Fernand Nathan.
  • Goldberg, Mark H (1992). 'Caviar & Cargo' The C3 Passenger Ships. North American Maritime Books.
  • Hague, Arnold (1998). Convoy Rescue Ships 1940–45. World Ship Society. ISBN 0-905617-88-6.
  • Morison, Samuel E. (1958). History of United States Naval Operations in World War II, Leyte, June 1944 – January 1945, Volume XII. Edison, New Jersey: Castle Books. ISBN 0-7858-1313-6.
  • Poolman, Kenneth (1972). Escort Carrier 1941–1945: An Account of British Escort Carriers in Trade Protection. London: Ian Allan.
  • Warrilow, Betty (1989). Nabob, the First Canadian-manned Aircraft Carrier. Owen Sound, Ont.: Escort Carriers Association.
  • Y'Blood, William T. (1987). The Little Giants: U.S. Escort Carriers Against Japan. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-275-3.

External links

Media related to Escort carriers at Wikimedia Commons

Attacker-class escort carrier

Attacker-class escort carriers were a type of aircraft carrier in service with the British Royal Navy during the Second World War. There were nine ships in the class, all constructed in the United States and supplied under the terms of Lend-Lease to the Royal Navy.

The ships served in two different roles: as convoy escort carriers, equipped with both anti-submarine and fighter aircraft, and as strike carriers, equipped with just fighter aircraft. When used as convoy escorts, the ships' aircraft were successful in deterring German submarines from attacking Allied convoys, with a number of German submarines and aircraft destroyed or damaged by the aircraft. Those carriers operating in the strike role took part in two major landings in the Mediterranean and an operation against the German battleship Tirpitz in Norwegian waters. Eight of the ships ended the war in the Far East in the campaigns against the Japanese Empire and were then used to transport home prisoners of war.

All nine ships survived the war and were eventually returned to the United States Navy, which sold five of them for conversion into merchant ships. The other three ships were scrapped.

Avenger-class escort carrier

The Avenger-class escort carrier was a class of escort carriers comprising three ships in service with the Royal Navy during the Second World War and one ship of the class in the United States Navy called the Charger Type of 1942-class escort carrier. All three were originally American type C3 merchant ships in the process of being built at the Sun Shipbuilding and Drydock Company Chester, Pennsylvania. The ships laid down in 1939 and 1940 were launched and delivered to the Royal Navy by 1942.The ships had a complement of 555 men and an overall length of 492.25 feet (150.04 m), a beam of 66.25 feet (20.19 m) and a height of 23.25 ft (7.09 m). Their displacement was 8,200 long tons (8,300 t) at normal load and 9,000 long tons (9,100 t) at deep load. Propulsion was provided by four diesel engines connected to one shaft giving 8,500 brake horsepower (6,300 kW), which could propel the ships at 16.5 knots (30.6 km/h; 19.0 mph).Aircraft facilities were a small combined bridge–flight control on the starboard side and above the 410 feet (120 m) long wooden flight deck, one aircraft lift 43 by 34 feet (13 m × 10 m), one aircraft catapult and nine arrestor wires. Aircraft could be housed in the 190 by 47 feet (58 m × 14 m) half hangar below the flight deck. Armament comprised three single mounted 4-inch dual purpose anti-aircraft guns and fifteen 20 mm cannons on single or twin mounts. They had the capacity for fifteen aircraft which would typically be a mixture of Grumman Martlet or Hawker Sea Hurricane fighter aircraft and Fairey Swordfish or Grumman Avenger anti-submarine aircraft. The three ships in the class were HMS Avenger, HMS Biter and HMS Dasher. A fourth ship, USS Charger was built at the same time to the same design but was commissioned in the U.S. Navy.

Bogue-class escort carrier

The Bogue class were a class of escort carriers built in the United States for service with the U.S. Navy and (under lend-lease) the Royal Navy during World War II. Following the war, ten Bogue-class ships were kept in service by the U.S. Navy and were used for helicopter and aircraft transport operations.

The ships operated by the Royal Navy were renamed and grouped as the Attacker class and the Ruler class; the latter all having names of "Ruler"s. Following the war, those ships that served with the Royal Navy were returned to the United States and were either scrapped or converted for mercantile use.

Casablanca-class escort carrier

The Casablanca-class escort carrier were a series of escort carriers constructed for the United States Navy during World War II. They were the most numerous class of aircraft carriers ever built. Fifty were laid down, launched and commissioned within the space of less than two years – 3 November 1942 through to 8 July 1944. These were nearly one third of the 151 carriers built in the United States during the war. Despite their numbers, and the preservation of more famous and larger carriers as museums, none of these modest ships survive today. Five were lost to enemy action during World War II and the remainder were scrapped.Casablanca was the first class to be designed from keel up as an escort carrier. It had a larger and more useful hangar deck than previous conversions. It also had a larger flight deck than the Bogue class. Unlike larger carriers which had extensive armor, protection was limited to splinter plating. Their small size made them useful for transporting assembled aircraft of various sizes, but fighters were limited to smaller and lighter aircraft such as the Grumman F4F Wildcat. The hull numbers were assigned consecutively, from CVE-55 Casablanca to CVE-104 Munda.

Casablanca-class carriers were built by the Kaiser Shipbuilding Company's Vancouver Yard on the Columbia River in Vancouver, Washington. The Vancouver yard was expressly built in 1942 to construct Liberty ships, but exigencies of war soon saw the yard building LST landing craft and then escort carriers all before the end of the yard's first year in operation. The yard had twelve building ways and a 3,000-foot (910 m) outfitting dock along with a unique additional building slip originally intended to add prefabricated superstructures to Liberty ships. Their relatively small size and mass-production origins led their crews to refer to them as "jeep carriers" or "Kaiser Jeeps" with varying degrees of affection.

Commencement Bay-class escort carrier

The Commencement Bay-class escort aircraft carriers were the last class of escort carriers built for the US Navy in World War II.

The ships were based on the Maritime Commission type T3 Tanker hull, which gave them a displacement of approximately 23,000 tons and a length of 557 feet (170 m). Unlike most earlier escort carrier classes, which were laid down as something else and converted to aircraft carriers mid-construction, the Commencement Bays were built as carriers from the keel up. Their general layout was similar to the Sangamon-class escort carriers, but some of the Sangamon's engineering shortcomings were addressed.

They entered service late in World War II – USS Commencement Bay launched on 9 May 1944 – so most of them saw little or no operational service. Thirty-three of them were ordered but many were cancelled prior to completion. Nineteen saw commissioned service in the US Navy, four were broken up on the ways at the end of the war, two were accepted from the builders, but never commissioned and the remainder were cancelled before being laid down.

After the war they were seen as potential helicopter, anti-submarine, or auxiliary (transport) carriers, and a number of ships served in these roles during the Korean War. The onrushing jet age ended their lives, as the ships were no longer large enough to safely carry the much larger jet aircraft of the late 1950s, and all units were out of service or reclassified by 1960.

List of aircraft carriers

This list of aircraft carriers contains aircraft carriers listed alphabetically by name. An aircraft carrier is a warship with a full-length flight deck and facilities for carrying, arming, deploying, and recovering aircraft, that serves as a seagoing airbase.

Included in this list are ships which meet the above definition and had an official name (italicized) or designation (non-italicized), regardless of whether they were or were not ordered, laid down, completed, or commissioned.

Not included in this list are the following:

Aircraft cruisers, also known as aviation cruisers, cruiser-carriers, flight deck cruisers, and hybrid battleship-carriers, which combine the characteristics of aircraft carriers and surface warfare ships, because they primarily operated helicopters or floatplanes and did not act as a floating airbase. Examples include the British Tiger-class cruisers, Japanese Hyūga-class helicopter destroyer, French cruiser Jeanne d'Arc, Soviet Moskva-class helicopter cruisers, and Italian Andrea Doria-class cruisers.

Amphibious assault ships, also known as commando carriers, assault carriers, helicopter carriers, landing helicopter assault ships, landing helicopter docks, landing platform docks, and landing platform helicopters. Although they have flight decks and look like aircraft carriers, they primarily operate helicopters and do not act as a floating airbase. Examples include the US Wasp-class assault ships, Brazilian PHM Atlântico (A140), Japanese Akitsu Maru escort carrier, and French Mistral-class.

Catapult aircraft merchantmen, merchant ships which carried cargo and an aircraft catapult (no flight deck).

Escort carriers, usually converted merchant ships, see separate List of escort carriers by country.

"Landing craft carriers" such as USS LST-906, which were modified amphibious landing ships, because they could not recover their aircraft.

Merchant aircraft carriers, cargo-carrying merchant ships with a full flight deck.

Seaplane tenders and seaplane carriers, because they could not land aircraft.

Submarine aircraft carriers, because they had no flight deck and could not land their aircraft."In commission" denotes the period that the ship was officially in commission with the given name for the given country as an aircraft carrier as defined above.

List of aircraft carriers of World War II

This is a list of aircraft carriers of the Second World War.

Aircraft carriers serve as a seagoing airbases, equipped with a flight deck and facilities for carrying, arming, deploying and recovering aircraft. Typically, they are the capital ships of a fleet, as they project air power worldwide without depending on local bases for operational support. Aircraft carriers are expensive and are considered critical assets. By the Second World War aircraft carriers had evolved from converted cruisers, to purpose built vessels of many classes and roles. Fleet carriers were the largest type, operating with the main fleet to provided offensive capability. Light aircraft carriers were fast enough to operate with the fleet but smaller and with fewer aircraft.

Escort carriers were smaller and slower, with low numbers of aircraft, and provided defense for convoys. Most of the latter were built from mercantile hulls or, in the case of merchant aircraft carriers, were bulk cargo ships with a flight deck added on top. Catapult aircraft merchant ships, were cargo-carrying merchant ships that could launch (but not retrieve) a single fighter aircraft from a catapult to defend the convoy from long-range German aircraft.

The aircraft carrier dramatically changed naval combat in the war, as air power became a significant factor in warfare. The advent of aircraft as primary weapons was driven by the superior range, flexibility and effectiveness of carrier-launched aircraft. They had higher range and precision than naval guns, making them highly effective. The versatility of the carrier was demonstrated in November 1940 when HMS Illustrious launched a long-range strike on the Italian fleet at their base in Taranto, signalling the beginning of effective and highly mobile aircraft strikes. This operation incapacitated three of the six battleships at a cost of two torpedo bombers.

In the Pacific Ocean clashes occurred between aircraft carrier fleets. The 1941 Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor was a clear illustration of the power projection capability afforded by a large force of modern carriers. Concentrating six carriers in a single unit turned naval history about, as no other nation had fielded anything comparable. However, the vulnerability of carriers compared to traditional battleships when forced into a gun-range encounter was quickly illustrated by the sinking of HMS Glorious by German battleships during the Norwegian campaign in 1940.

This new-found importance of naval aviation forced nations to create a number of carriers, in an effort to provide air superiority for every major fleet. This extensive usage required the construction of several new 'light' carriers. Escort aircraft carriers, such as USS Bogue, were sometimes purpose-built, but most were converted from merchant ships as a stop-gap measure to provide anti-submarine air support for convoys and amphibious invasions. Following this concept, light aircraft carriers built by the US, such as USS Independence, represented a larger and more "militarized" version of the escort carrier. Although with complements similar to escort carriers, they had the advantage of speed from their converted cruiser hulls. The British 1942 Design Light Fleet Carrier was designed for quick construction by civilian shipyards and a short three-year service life. They served the Royal Navy during the war, and their hull design was chosen for nearly all aircraft carrier equipped navies after the war until the 1980s. Emergency situations during the war spurred the creation of highly unconventional aircraft carriers, such as the CAM ships.The List of ships of World War II contains major military vessels of the war, arranged alphabetically and by type. The list includes armed vessels that served during the war and in the immediate aftermath, inclusive of localized ongoing combat operations, garrison surrenders, post-surrender occupation, colony re-occupation, troop and prisoner repatriation, to the end of 1945. For smaller vessels, see also List of World War II ships of less than 1000 tons. Some uncompleted Axis ships are included, out of historic interest. Ships are designated to the country under which they operated for the longest period of World War II, regardless of where they were built or previous service history.

List of ship commissionings in 1942

The list of ship commissionings in 1942 includes a chronological list of ships commissioned in 1942. In cases where no official commissioning ceremony was held, the date of service entry may be used instead.

List of ship commissionings in 1943

The list of ship commissionings in 1943 includes a chronological list of all ships commissioned in 1943.

List of ship commissionings in 1944

The list of ship commissionings in 1944 includes a chronological list of ships commissioned in 1944. In cases where no official commissioning ceremony was held, the date of service entry may be used instead.

List of ship decommissionings in 1946

The list of ship decommissionings in 1946 includes a chronological list of ships decommissioned in 1946. In cases where no official decommissioning ceremony was held, the date of withdrawal from service may be used instead. For ships lost at sea, see list of shipwrecks in 1946 instead.

List of ship launches in 1943

The list of ship launches in 1943 includes a chronological list of some of the ships launched in 1943.

Long Island-class escort carrier

The Long Island-class escort carrier was a two-ship class, originally listed as "AVG" (Aircraft Escort Vessels). They were converted from type C3-class merchant ships.

The first ship of the class—USS Long Island, originally AVG-1, later ACV-1 then CVE-1—was launched on 11 January 1940, and served in the United States Navy through World War II.

The second and last ship of the class—HMS Archer (D78)—was launched on 14 December 1939, and served in the Royal Navy through World War II. It is also listed in U.S. Navy records as BAVG-1; the "B" presumably stood for "British".

Nairana-class escort carrier

The Nairana-class escort carrier () was a British-built class of three escort carriers. They were constructed one each in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland to the same basic design during the Second World War for service with the Royal Navy.

Converted from merchant ships, they were only able to accommodate a composite squadron of about 15–20 aircraft. Their armaments were mainly anti-aircraft weapons, with one twin 4 inch Dual Purpose, Anti Aircraft gun. One of the class, Campania, was the first British carrier to be fitted with an Action Information Organisation (AIO) and a Type 277 Radar able to detect low-level aircraft.

Once completed the first carrier did not take part in active service until January 1944, but all three served as convoy escorts during the final year of the war. They had some success during their patrols, and anti-submarine Fairey Swordfish flying from their decks sank and damaged some German U-boats and their fighters succeeded in shooting down German long-range reconnaissance aircraft.

Ruler-class escort carrier

The Ruler class of escort aircraft carriers served with the Royal Navy during the Second World War. All twenty-five ships were built by the Seattle-Tacoma Shipbuilding Corporation in the United States as Bogue-class escort carriers, supplied under Lend-Lease to the United Kingdom. They were the most numerous single class of aircraft carriers in service with the Royal Navy.As built they were intended for three types of operations, "Assault" or strike, convoy escort, or aircraft ferry.After the war some were scrapped while other had their flight deck removed and converted as merchant vessels (and all eventually scrapped by the 1970s).

Sangamon-class escort carrier

The Sangamon class were a group of four escort aircraft carriers of the United States Navy that served during World War II.

Shimane Maru-class escort carrier

The Shimane Maru class was a pair of auxiliary escort carriers built for the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) during World War II.

Four additional conversions were reportedly considered but not carried out. Although both ships were launched, only one was completed, and neither entered active service before being destroyed.

Taiyō-class escort carrier

The Taiyō-class escort carrier (大鷹型航空母艦, Taiyō-gata Kōkū-bokan) was a group of three escort carriers used by the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) during World War II. Two of the ships were built as cargo liners in the late 1930s and subsequently taken over by the IJN and converted into escort carriers, while the third ship was converted while still under construction. The first ship converted, Taiyō, ferried aircraft and supplies to Japanese possessions before the start of the Pacific War in December 1941 and also served as a training ship between transport missions. Once the war began she did much the same for the newly-conquered areas. Her sister ship, Un'yō did much the same in 1942. Chuyō, the last of the three to be converted, only ferried aircraft between Japan and the naval base at Truk before she was sunk by an American submarine in December 1943. Her sisters sometimes had other destinations other than Truk in 1943, but it was also their primary destination until they were damaged by American submarines in late 1943 or early 1944. After finishing their repairs in 1944, the sisters combined convoy escort duties with their transport missions and often ventured as far south as Singapore. Taiyō was the first of the pair to be sunk, torpedoed by an American submarine in August, with Un'yō following her sister a month later.

Yamashio Maru-class escort carrier

The Yamashio Maru class (Japanese: 山汐丸) consisted of a pair of auxiliary escort carriers operated by the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II. They were converted from tankers. Only the name ship was completed during the war and she was sunk by American aircraft before she could be used.

Aircraft carriers
Patrol craft
Fast attack craft
Mine warfare
Command and support


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