The USS Cabot (CVL-28) was an Independence-class aircraft carrier serving the US Navy during WWII. Independence-class carriers were considered "light," with less than half the displacement of the larger Essex-class. These vessels were in fact not even designed as carriers; they were initially laid down as cruisers and were then converted during the construction process. Although this gave the vessels some limitations – namely a short and narrow flight deck – they proved more effective than expected.
The Cabot started out as a Cleveland-class cruiser to be named USS Wilmington. Her initial construction at the New York Shipbuilding Company of Camden, New Jersey began in June 1942. Within a month however, orders came through for the conversion. The name was changed to Cabot, and she was redesignated as a carrier. The vessel was launched in April 1943 and commissioned in July as the CVL-28, under the command of Captain Malcolm Schoeffel.
Repairs and Upgrades
The Cabot underwent numerous repairs during the war. In November 1944, the vessel's crew was forced to make temporary repairs following a kamikaze strike; the damage was permanently repaired at Ulithi during the first week of December. The following March, she was sent to San Francisco for an overhaul, which lasted for three months.
On 8 November 1943, Cabot got underway for Pearl Harbor from the Quonset NAS in Rhode Island. She arrived a month later then proceeded to the Marshall Islands, joining up with Task Force 58. She spent the late winter and early spring of 1944 participating in the invasion of that island group, proceeding to the Carolines at the end of March.
In April, her task group set out for Hollandia (present-day Jayapura on the northern coast of New Guinea) where her planes and pilots provided air cover for the invasion of that Japanese stronghold. Less than a week later, she turned her forces against the Truk island group.
On the day Allied forces assaulted Hitler's "Fortress Europe" on the other side of the globe Cabot's pilots were busy softening Tojo's positions in the Marianas. Two weeks later, her crew took part in the Battle of the Philippine Sea, which was a turning point at which Japanese naval aviation was hamstrung. Her aviation group then turned their guns against Japanese redoubts on Iwo Jima and again on the Marianas.
In September 1944, Cabot joined the attack on Mindanao, paving the way for the United States to retake the Philippines (then a United States possession). This was followed by the preliminary raids on Okinawa and Formosa (present-day Taiwan). In late October, her pilots played a significant part in the Battle of Leyte Gulf.
From December 1944 until June 1945, Cabot's crew was involved in strikes against Japanese holdouts in Luzon (Philippines), Indochina (Vietnam), Formosa and Okinawa. In June, she was ordered home for overdue maintenance, which lasted through mid July. She returned to action in time to get a few final shots in at Wake Island before the Japanese Empire capitulated. Most of August was spent at Eniwetok, where a new crew spent a few weeks in training exercises.
Following the end of hostilities, the crew of Cabot worked to support the post-war occupation in former Japanese-held areas along the rim of the Yellow Sea. In October, she took on veterans at Guam and sailed for home, arriving in San Diego on 9 November. She then proceeded to Philadelphia where she was ordered to stand down. Cabot was put in mothballs in February 1947.
Cabot was reactivated in October 1948. Except for a three-month deployment to Europe for the first three months of 1952, Cabot spent most of her time operating as a training vessel out of the Pensacola NAS. She was again decommissioned and laid up at the Philadelphia Naval Yard in 1955.
In 1967, the Cabot was turned over to the Spanish Navy, where she served as the Dedalo until August 1989. When Spain decommissioned her, she was donated to a private organization in New Orleans, which struggled for several years to preserve the vessel. Designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1990, this designation was revoked in 2001 after the vessel had been auctioned off to Sabe Marine Salvage. The Cabot was finally dismantled for scrap in 2002.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Cabot (CVL-28)
Asbestos aboard the Cabot was widespread, but would have been concentrated in the engine room as well as storage facilities for fuel oil, ammunition and aviation fuel. As the result of the kamikaze strike on 25 November 1944, the port flight deck as well as two gun platforms and a director were damaged. Permanent repairs were effected at Ulithi and San Francisco.
The use of asbestos-containing materials in the construction of all vessels was mandated by Congress in the 1930s, after a fire at sea on a luxury liner resulted in great loss of life. Navy ships deployed asbestos heavily around ship's boilers and engineering compartments, and to insulate compartments throughout the ship. Asbestos has long been known for its ability to insulate, but it was also proven to be the only known factor in the development of such life-threatening illnesses such as asbestosis and peritoneal mesothelioma.
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N/A. "Cabot." Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships.
http://www.hazegray.org/danfs/carriers/cvl28.htm. Retrieved 10 December 2010.
N/A. "USS Cabot, 1943-1967." Naval Historical Center
http://www.history.navy.mil/photos/sh-usn/usnsh-c/cvl28.htm. Updated October 1999. Retrieved 10 December 2010.