Escort aircraft carrier

The escort aircraft carrier or escort carrier, was a small aircraft carrier developed by the U.S. Navy in the early part of World War II to deal with the U-boat crisis of the Battle of the Atlantic.

In US service, they were initially referred to as auxiliary aircraft escort vessels and then auxiliary aircraft carrier before the Navy settled on escort aircraft carrier. They were informally known as Jeep carriers and baby flat tops. Escort carriers were given the US Navy hull classification symbol CVE - which was said by their crews to stand for Combustible, Vulnerable, and Expendable!

Escort carriers were typically around 500 feet long, not much more than half the length of the almost 900-foot fleet carriers of the same era, but actually less than one-third of the size: a typical escort carrier displaced about 8,000 tons, as compared to almost 30,000 tons for a full-size fleet carrier.

Escort carriers were used to ferry aircraft, hunt submarines, for patrols, scouting, and the escorting of convoys. They were developed at the behest of Great Britain, and many of the ships produced were assigned to the Royal Navy for the duration of the war.

Over 100 escort carriers were launched during the war. Following the war, this class of ship was retired.

Relative carrier sizes
(typical examples)
Escort carrier Fleet carrier
Length:150m260m
Beam:20m28m
Displacement:7500t25,000t
Aircraft:30 or lessover 80
Speed:19 knots33 knots
Crew:8503000 and over

Perhaps the finest momemt for the escort carriers was the Battle of Leyte Gulf's Battle off Samar, where three escort carrier groups fended off the battleships of the Japanese Combined Fleet, allowing General MacArthur's army to complete the liberation of Leyte. The hero of the battle was Clifton Sprague.

See list of escort aircraft carriers of the United States Navy for a complete list.


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