Why are we called Wolverine Division?
Both the USS Wolverine and her sister ship the USS Sable were both originally passenger paddleboats built by the American Ship Building Company in Wyandotte, MI and were originally named the SS Seeandbee and the SS Greater Buffalo. The SS Seeandbee was first launched in 1913 and for 30 years, was a luxury passenger ship and flagship for the Chicago and Buffalo Transit Company, a passenger shipping company that operated between Chicago, IL and Buffalo, NY. In 1924, eleven years prior to the SS Seeandbee’s launch, her sister ship the SS Greater Buffalo was launched. The SS Greater Buffalo was slightly larger than the SS Seeandbee, yet they served the same purpose as cruise ships. During WWII, the SS Seeandbee and the SS Greater Buffalo were acquired by the Navy in 1942.
Upon retrieval by the USN, the SS Seeandbee and SS Greater Buffalo had their names changed to the USS Wolverine and the USS Sable and they were both converted to aircraft carriers. This process took a little over five months and was done by clearing the main deck and then applying the facilities necessary for the two ships to serve as aircraft carriers. Upon conversion, the USS Wolverine was 505 feet long, could travel at 18 kt, and could carry 270 personnel. The USS Sable had a 535 foot long deck making it the largest of its class at the time and was the first carrier to have a non-skid steel deck, but traveled at the same speed as the USS Wolverine.
A third ship, the SS Greater Detroit, was under construction near the end of the war had been planned to be acquired by the Navy; however, the war had ended before construction was finished and the new ship no longer served any use in the Navy. A possible conversion for the name could have been the USS Ferret as ferrets are loosely related to the weasel family as are the USS Wolverine and the USS Sable. Also ferrets are adept snake hunters which snake in our culture refers to one that is deeply despised and an enemy.
The USS Wolverine and the USS Sable were first commissioned in August, 1942 and were the first aircraft carriers to ever be stationed in the Great Lakes. These two aircraft carriers were used to train naval aviators in carrier operations during WWII since the government figured that their small sized decks compared to that of an ocean aircraft carrier provided a great way to train and that the Great Lakes would offer protection against Nazi submarines. During the war, 35,000 personnel, a large majority of our naval aviators were qualified on the USS Wolverine and USS Sable including President George H.W. Bush. Some of the planes flown from the decks of the USS Wolverine and USS Sable include TBM/TBF Avengers, F4U Corsair, SBD Dauntless, F6F Hellcats, SNJ Texans, SB2U Vindicators, and FM/F4F Wildcats. Of these many aircraft, the USS Wolverine successfully launched its first aircraft on August 25, 1942. Upon the end of WWII, these aircraft carriers were no longer of use to our Navy so they were decommissioned in 1945 and scrapped in 1947.
The information for this page was collected and arranged by PO3 Blaine Bradley, USNSCC