USS Cabot The Facts Clute, Texas September 10, 1999 Page 8A, Columns 1 - 6
Historic carrier sold to BROWNSVILLE, Texas (AP) — The carrier that survived torpedo, battleship, submarine and Kamikaze attacks in World War II was sold to a salvage company on Thursday for $185,000, disappointing veterans and at least one group that wanted to save the vessel. P.K. Patel, representing Sabe Marine Salvage, made the winning bid for the USS Cabot at an auction held by the U.S. Marshal's Service. The sale derailed a nonprofit group's plans to convert the once mighty ship into a floating museum. The head of the Education Council for Space Age Technology, whose highest bid was $180,000, declined to say whether the group might file an objection to the sale. "This thing has gone on for years," said Stephen O'Neal, chairman of the Miami- based nonprofit group known as ECOSTAT. "It'll still go on for more." Patel, who had asked auctioneers earlier whether he would be allowed to export the vessel, which has been rusting in a boat slip in Brownsville, left the auction without commenting. Three registered bidders and several observers, including some who served on the Cabot, attended the auction by the U.S. Marshal's Service, which sold the ship to pay off the debt it had racked up. Ray Clark, who served on the ship from 1943 to 1946, was concerned that it would likely be destroyed. "I don't like that at all," he said. "I'm in favor of the museum idea." O'Neal had called the Cabot the last of her kind. "She is the last of the light fast carriers," he said. O'Neal said his group had collected hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations to acquire the ship, named for explorer John Cabot. It was the only survivor of nine small- but-fast light carriers used in World War II. Presidents George Bush and Gerald Ford were among the veterans who served on the Cabot's sister ships, all of which have been either sunk or scrapped. The USS Cabot Association, a group of veterans who served on the ship, asked its members and veterans of the sister ships to e company donate money to ECOSAT for bidding. "When you get an obsolete ship, as far as your navy is concerned, you scrap it," said Bill Anderson, immediate past president of the Cabot Association and a pilot on the ship from October 1944 to May 1945. "We've done that with airplanes and ships to the point that we have very few historic ones (left)." Famed war correspondent Ernie Pyle, who nicknamed the Cabot the "Iron Woman," filed dispatches from the ship, which fought in every Pacific battle of 1944 and 1945. Its pilots shot down 252 planes and sank 49 vessels. The Cabot later was a training carrier at Pensacola Naval Air Station before it entered the Spanish Navy, renamed the SNS Dedalo. In 1989, Spain gave the ship to a group that planned to make the Cabot a museum in New Orleans. The federal government declared the Cabot a National Historic Landmark and contributed $2 million toward the project, but a lack of private funds sank plans for the museum. AP photo The USS Cabot sits moored at the a slip in the Port of Brownsville, Texas Thursday. The fighting carrier was sold at auction to a marine salvage %m for $185,000 disappointing veterans and at least one group that wanted to save the vessel.