About Navy Escort Carriers
Navy Escort Carriers (CVEs), also known as “Jeep Carriers” or “Baby Flat Tops,” were first incorporated into the U.S. Navy during World War II to replace earlier naval losses. The CVEs were smaller and less armored than the other aircraft carriers. As a result, they were faster and easier to build.
The CVEs were designed to escort allied battleships and to transport aircraft. In addition, they participated in anti-submarine warfare, combat air patrol and formed a large part of the fleet if other ships were unavailable.
The first CVEs were built on merchant hulls. After demonstrating their versatility and success, the U.S. Navy commissioned nearly 80 more vessels over the course of World War II.
The CVEs performed admirably in both the Atlantic and Pacific Theaters. They proved especially effective at targeting German U-Boats and “milch cows” (the ships that met the submarines with supplies).
In the Pacific, they provided air cover for amphibious landings, ferried planes, resupplied the big carriers and performed tactical airstrikes in support of ground forces.
Yet all of these escort carriers had a hidden danger: they were built with asbestos, which has since been linked to life-threatening illnesses like mesothelioma.