Chicago Navy Memorial

The Chicago Navy Memorial at Navy Pier


Navy Pier and indeed all of Chicagoland were fully engaged in supporting the war effort. From shipbuilding, to aircraft manufacturing, to recruit training at Great Lakes, to carrier pilot qualification training and much more were immense contributions. Here are a few photos from that time that show elements of the carrier qualification training program conducted from two training carriers based at Navy Pier, and the Pier itself as a major Naval Training Center.

Navy Pier as a Naval Training Center at the Height of World War Two - December 1944

The head of Navy Pier and the Pier itself were a bustling Naval Training Center in this aeial photo taken in December, 1944. The training ship USS Wilmette can be seen in the foreground. The large pavilion at center was a drill hall and athletic training and sports center for Sailors attending school on the Pier. Various other ships and small craft were open to the public as part of the Navy's 6th War Bond Drive going on at the time. In the far background is a hangar building where aviation maintenance student Sailors trained on actual aircraft.

USS Wolverine underway after her commissioning in Chicago August 1942

Both Navy Pier-based training carriers USS Wolverine and USS Sable were converted from luxury Great Lakes passenger steamers into fresh water training carriers. This ingenious plan allowed America's few combat-capable carriers to remain focused on our enemies in both the Pacific and Atlantic, and it eliminated the need to protect training operations from enemy submarines.

Navy trainer launches from USS Woverine

Navy Dauntless dive-bomber serving as a training aircraft takes off from the deck of the USS Wolverine on a cold 1943 Chicago day as floating ice surrounds the ship.

Future President George H. W. Bush completes his carrier qualification aboard Navy Pier-based training carrier USS Sable

Future President George H. W. Bush is shown logging the completion of his carrier qualification training in August 1943 aboard USS Sable, one of the two training carriers operating off Navy Pier.

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