Role of Utility Aircraft Carriers (CVU)

Naval discussions covering the latter half of the 20th Century.
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Role of Utility Aircraft Carriers (CVU)

Post by SunHouseBlue »

Hello everyone,

I'm currently doing research on the history of CVEs and I'm having difficulties finding information regarding "utility aircraft carriers" (CVU), a designation that was attributed to several escort carriers in the 50s. I'm trying to figure out:

-The definition of the designation "utility aircraft carrier".

-The role/uses of CVUs.

-If they were they considered "auxiliary" ships.

Would anyone be able to point me in the right direction?
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Re: Role of Utility Aircraft Carriers (CVU)

Post by wadinga »

Hello SunHouseBlue,

Kenneth Poolman's book Allied Escort Carriers of WWII names several ships designated CVU, CVHE or AKV in Chapter 22. However there are no answers to your specific questions. The AKV is described as "cargo vessel/aircraft transport" and CVHE as "helicopter carriers". What a CVU does is not specified.

Jane's Fighting Ships 1955-56 edn says the re-designation of 10 Anzio class units to CVHE and 23 to CVU occurred on 12th June 1955. Thetis Bay became CVHA to operate Marine Corps assault troops and helicopters. It notes some CVUs, Corregidor, Tripoli, Cape Esperance and Windham Bay were operated by the Marine Sea Transportation Service as aircraft ferry ships.

The wikipedia entry for Esperance Bay includes:
Cape Esperance was recommissioned on 5 August 1950 under the identification T-CVE-88, as an aircraft transport carrier serving under the Military Sealift Command. Most of her weapons were stripped from her hull, and she was operated by a mostly civilian crew. Immediately after being recommissioned, she began delivering aircraft to Japan, where they would participant in the Korean War. For the next nine years, Cape Esperance fulfilled a variety of duties, including supporting nuclear tests at Eniwetok, and ferrying aircraft to the Royal Thai Air Force. She engaged in an average of nine transpacific voyages per year, reinforcing forces of the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization, as well as U.S. assets in the Pacific. In 1952, she steamed for Hong Kong, where she evacuated planes of the Republic of China Air Force which were in danger of being seized by advancing PLA forces. She was reclassified as a utility aircraft transport carrier, T-CVU-88, on 12 June 1955, and began conducting transatlantic voyages, ferrying aircraft to bases in Western Europe. She then returned to the Pacific, and proceeded to transport aircraft to Pakistan in 1956.
It would seem that aircraft transport was the main function of CVU and the designation may be more to do with crewing and operating organisation. Also by 1955 carriers that could not operate jets must have been of little use except as transport platforms.

Hope this helps

All the best

"There seems to be something wrong with our bloody ships today!"
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