Of light cruisers and baby flattops
Located at Hunter’s Point (San Francisco Naval Shipyard), the most recognizable vessel in the collection of cargo ships, light/escort carriers, and light cruisers is the USS Bataan (CVL-29) with her pennant number on her deck. Directly behind her should be The Mighty Moo, 12 battlestar-recipient USS Cowpens (CVL-25), which had been in mothballs since 1947. The bows on these cruisers-hulled light carriers are a dead ringer for the greyhounds they are moored among.
Among the escort carriers listed at San Francisco at the time were the Commencement Bay-class USS Rendova (CVE-114) who was completed too late for WWII but was home to F4U Corsairs of VMF-212 off Korea for 1,700 sorties as well as fellow classmates and Korean War vets USS Bairoko (CVE-115), USS Badoeng Strait (CVE-116), and USS Sicily (CVE-118).
Many of the escort carriers in U.S. inventory during the mid-to-late 1950s were reclassified as auxiliary aircraft ferries (ACV), helicopter carriers (CVHE), aviation cargo ships (AKV), or aircraft transport (AVT) with some administratively transferred to the Military Sea Transportation Service on paper before they were removed from Naval custody, although they were not given any modifications to operate as such.
Among the light cruisers at San Fran at the time were USS Astoria CL-90, Birmingham CL-62, Vincennes CL-64, Springfield CL-66, Topeka CL-67, Vicksburg CL-86, Duluth CL-87, Miami CL-89, Oklahoma City CL-91, Amsterdam CL-101, and Atlanta CL-104, a Cleveland-class light cruisers completed late in the war. Two anti-aircraft cruisers are also seen middle left of the photo. Moored on red lead row at Hunters Point in 1958 were USS Oakland (CL-95) and USS Tucson (CL-98).
By 1962, virtually the entire assemblage you see above (save for Atlanta, who went on to be destroyed in 1965 as a weapons effects test ship and Tuscon, which was a test hulk until 1971) was stricken from Navy List and subsequently sold for scrap, the days of 1945-era all-gun cruisers and abbreviated flattops in the rearview for a Navy that was increasingly all-jet and missile. Oakland’s mast and nameplate are preserved just a few miles from where this image was taken at the Port of Oakland’s shoreline park.