World Aircraft Carriers List
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USS Cabot/SNS Dedalo

The Last Light Carrier

The light aircraft carrier USS Cabot was laid down on 16 March 1942 at New York Shipbuilding, Camden, NJ, as the light cruiser USS Wilmington. She was reordered as a carrier and renamed 2 June 1942, and commissioned 24 July 1943. During WWII she served with TF38/TF58, the fast carrier striking force in the Pacific, and was hit by a kamikaze 25 November 1944.

Following WWII she was placed in reserve on 11 February 1947, but was recommissioned 27 October 1948 as an ASW carrier, returning to reserve in 1955. The ship was taken out of reserve in 1965 and went into overhaul at Philadelphia Naval Shipyard in preparation for transfer to the Spanish Navy. The ship recommissioned in Spanish service 30 August 1967 as SNS Dedalo (R01).

Following many years of service as an ASW and VSTOL carrier, Dedalo returned to the US and was decommissioned at New Orleans 5 August 1989. Her ownership was transferred to the Cabot/Dedalo Association, and she was to be preserved as a museum. Sadly the Association wasted the funds it had raised for the preservation project, and the fate of this historic ship was soon in doubt. Despite being in excellent condition, and retaining many WWII-era features such as her original 40 mm AA guns, the last surviving light carrier of WWII sat at a pier in New Orleans for many years as the Association made no real attempt to preserve the ship.

In 1995, citing financial pressures, the Association attempted to sell the ship to foreign shipbreakers, but the sale was thwarted by preservation and environmental concerns. Despite preservation efforts by outside parties, the Association seemed interested only in scrapping the ship, and she was towed to Port Isabel, TX 18 October 1997 for that purpose. Cabot was moved into Global Marine's shipbreaking berth at Brownsville, TX, on 9 August 1998. At some point the ship had been transferred into Global Marine's posession, although legal title to the ship remained a contested issue.

Outside groups continued their efforts to block the sale or scrapping of the ship, and their legal efforts had temporary success. On 26 April 1999 Cabot was "arrested" by the US Marshals Service, and a court-ordered auction was scheduled. It was hoped that this auction would give preservation groups a final, honest chance to obtain clear title to the ship, with the proceeds of the auction going to pay off the numerous liens against the ship. The auction took place on 9 September 1999, and the ship was sold to Sabe Marine Salvage for $185,000. Sabe Marine Salvage apparently was another of the "paper" companies that had claimed ownership of the ship in recent years; all the companies were apparently owned by a common owner or owners. Although there were several additional efforts to save the ship, and the scrapping was postponed for many months, stripping work started during October 2000. By December the work had proceeded to some initial structural demolition. The last light carrier is now lost.

This feature presents five groups of photos from Cabot/Dedalo's career:
In Service, WWII and Postwar
Moored at New Orleans, 1994
The tow to Port Isabel, 1997
Moored at Port Isabel, December 1997
The tow to Brownsville, 1998

Additional photos are available at

Cabot/Dedalo In Service

 [THUMBNAIL] Cabot late in WWII. She shows the typical features of the Independence class light carriers - a small island, four uptakes on the starboard side, a small radar mast, a crane forward of the island, and a cruiser hull.

 [THUMBNAIL] Dedalo in 1968, possibly on her delivery voyage. Her period in Philadelphia Naval Shipyard has resulted in numerous changes: the island is considerably enlarged, and support a new mast and radars; the four uptakes have been reduced to two; a new secondary mast has been installed, and the number of deck-edge gun tubs has been reduced. Still, she retains many WWII-era features, including 40mm antiaircraft guns - a quad mount is visible in her bows, and others are along the deck edges.

Cabot/Dedalo At New Orleans, 1994

 [THUMBNAIL] A general bow view. The ship's classic cruiser lines are visible, despite her conversion to a carrier. Photo: Merlin Dorfman.

 [THUMBNAIL] Cabot's starboard bow and island. The quad 40mm AA gun previously fitted in her bows is gone, but most of her other equipment remains unchanged. Photo: Merlin Dorfman.

 [THUMBNAIL] A closeup of the starboard side. This view shows the deck-edge gun tubs and sponsons and their supporting structure, as wellas the island and the aircraft crane. Photo: Merlin Dorfman.

 [THUMBNAIL] A closeup view showing the details of the island and aircraft crane. Note excellent condition of the ship and her equipment. However, without proper care and preservation, this excellent condition could not last long. Photo: Merlin Dorfman.

 [THUMBNAIL] A closeup view of the starboard bow, anchors, and the forward gun tub. Photo: Merlin Dorfman.

 [THUMBNAIL] View along the starboard side, looking forward. The two remaining boiler uptakes are clearly displayed, along with various deck edge gun tubs. Photo: Merlin Dorfman.

 [THUMBNAIL] Another view along the starboard side, showing one of the surviving dual 40mm mounts. Photo: Merlin Dorfman.

 [THUMBNAIL] Cabot's stern, with a quad 40mm mount still in place. Photo: Merlin Dorfman.

 [THUMBNAIL] A general view of Cabot from astern. Photo: Merlin Dorfman.

Cabot/Dedalo tow to Port Isabel, October 1997

 [THUMBNAIL] Cabot leaving New Orleans en route to Port Isabel, Texas. Two harbor tugs are assisting the ocean tug in manuvering the ship out to sea.

 [THUMBNAIL] Cabot proceeding down the channel towards the sea.

 [THUMBNAIL] A final view of Cabot departing New Orleans.

Cabot/Dedalo at Port Isabel, December 1997

 [THUMBNAIL] A general starboard side view. The decline in Cabot's cosmetic condition since 1994 is evident - the hull is rusted and showing its age. Photo: Gerard Mittelstaedt.

 [THUMBNAIL] A closer view of the starboard side. Photo: Gerard Mittelstaedt.

 [THUMBNAIL] A closeup of the island and starboard bow. Photo: Gerard Mittelstaedt.

 [THUMBNAIL] A general view from ahead, showing Cabot's desolate surroundings. Photo: Gerard Mittelstaedt.

 [THUMBNAIL] A view of the port side from ahead. Photo: Gerard Mittelstaedt.

 [THUMBNAIL] A general port side view. Photo: Gerard Mittelstaedt.

 [THUMBNAIL] A closer port side view. Photo: Gerard Mittelstaedt.

 [THUMBNAIL] A closeup of Cabot's port bow. Photo: Gerard Mittelstaedt.

 [THUMBNAIL] Cabot's port side, forward, showing gun mounts. Photo: Gerard Mittelstaedt.

 [THUMBNAIL] A view of Cabot's port side, midships/aft, also showing gun mounts. Photo: Gerard Mittelstaedt.

 [THUMBNAIL] A general view of the starboard side from astern. Photo: Gerard Mittelstaedt.
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 [THUMBNAIL] A closeup of Cabot's starboard quarter. Photo: Gerard Mittelstaedt.
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 [THUMBNAIL] Cabot's starboard side, including the island and uptakes. Her hull has evidently been scraped and dented from her time moored at a pier without proper fendering. Photo: Gerard Mittelstaedt.
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 [THUMBNAIL] A view from dead astern. Note that the quad 40mm gun at the stern remains in place. Photo: Gerard Mittelstaedt.
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 [THUMBNAIL] Cabot's port side, aft. Photo: Gerard Mittelstaedt.
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 [THUMBNAIL] Cabot's port side, forward. Photo: Gerard Mittelstaedt.
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 [THUMBNAIL] A port side closeup, midships. Photo: Gerard Mittelstaedt.
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 [THUMBNAIL] Closeup of Cabot's port bow. Photo: Gerard Mittelstaedt.
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Cabot/Dedalo tow to Brownsville, August 1998

 [THUMBNAIL] Cabot departing Port Isabel en route to Brownsville.

 [THUMBNAIL] Cabot arriving at the Brownsville shipbreaking berth.

 [THUMBNAIL] Cabot being turned into the berth.

 [THUMBNAIL] Cabot in the Brownsville shipbreaking berth.

 [THUMBNAIL] A final view of Cabot at Brownsville. Note the total lack of industrial facilities in the area, and the primitive conditions under which shipbreaking operations are conducted.

The World Aircraft Carrier Lists
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