Cabot earned nine battle stars and the Presidential
Unit Citation for service during World War II.
U.S. Navy photograph.
The US had entered World War II with
seven aircraft carriers but by early 1942 only one remained
operational. In June of that year, in order to meet the Navy's
pressing demand for carriers while the Essex class was
under construction, President Roosevelt ordered the conversion
of nine Cleveland-class light cruiser hulls to the Independence-class
light aircraft carrier. Nine of these carriers were completed
by the end of 1943. The U.S.S. Cabot (CVL-28) was the
only one of the nine to survive for nearly five decades.
Cabot was built by the New York
Shipbuilding Corporation and entered service in January 1944.
Throughout 1944 and 1945 she participated in raids on Truk,
the Marshalls, Palau, Hollandia, and the Marianas, and in the
invasions of the Philippines, Leyte, Iwo Jima, Okinawa, and
Wake Island. Dozens of enemy ships were sunk by the Cabot
and 252 planes were downed. She was also selected as the carrier
to host war correspondent Ernie Pyle when he covered carrier
operations late in the war. It was Pyle who gave the vessel
the nickname "Iron Woman" after it underwent multiple
attacks without ever stopping for repairs. Cabot served
in nearly every major naval engagement in the Pacific for which
she earned nine battle stars and the Presidential Unit Citation.
Decommissioned in 1947, she was transferred to Spain in 1967
and renamed Dedalo as part of a lease program. Purchased
by the Spanish government in 1973, she served in their navy
final dock, at the scrapping facility in Port Brownsville,
Photograph courtesy of ECOSAT.
was acquired from Spain by the New Orleans-based Cabot-Dedalo
Museum Foundation. The vessel was designated a National Historic
Landmark on June 29, 1990, but the museum foundation folded
when it was unable to secure sufficient funds for restoration.
The carrier remained moored in New Orleans, deteriorating and
accumulating large fees for dock space and environmental clean-up.
Considered a danger to shipping traffic in the Port of New Orleans,
she was moved to Texas in 1997. In 1998 the vessel was seized
by US Marshals and auctioned off in 1999 to pay the accumulated
debts. While the vessel was named a national treasure by the
National Trust for Historic Preservation shortly before the
auction, efforts by preservation groups failed to raise sufficient
funds to purchase Cabot. The vessel was purchased by
Sabe Marine Salvage; subsequently, the Environmental Protection
Agency barred the company from taking the ship overseas for
salvage because of the presence of hazardous materials.
Scrapping of Cabot began in November
2000 at Port Brownsville, Texas, in a special scrapping facility
built by Maruti Steel, Inc. Much of the flight deck was first
dismantled and portions of the deck including the island tower,
antennas, and gun mounts were sold to aircraft carrier museums.
Some miscellaneous artifacts were removed and deposited with
museums or the Curator Branch of the Naval Historical Center,
2001: Parts of Cabot are removed and ready for sale,
as the vessel meets its end in Port Brownsville.
Photograph courtesy of ECOSAT.
The Landmark designation of Cabot
was withdrawn on August 7, 2001, as the qualities that originally
led to its designation had been destroyed. The fate of the vessel
does illustrate an important point about the National Historic
Landmark designation. The designation of a property as National
Historic Landmark does not restrict the manner in which the
property may be used, altered, or disposed of by a private owner.