The ceremonies having been driven belowdecks to the wardroom by a drenching rain, Captain Warren K. Berner, U.S. Naval Academy class of 1922—nicknamed “Tarzan” by classmates—read his orders and assumed command of the USS Sable (IX-81) on 8 May 1943. Less than a month from his 45th birthday, Berner, a naval aviator for nearly two decades, had served onboard the Navy’s first aircraft carrier, the Langley (CV-1). He had been chosen to fit out and command one of two aircraft-training vessels now in the Fleet’s inventory.
Ice around Buffalo Harbor, New York, held up the Sable’s final trials for weeks. Fog, rain, and low visibility followed, precluding her from getting under way for trials on 21 May, so the inspection board on hand for trials looked over what features it could pierside. All was not perfect; the inspectors noted poor ventilation and high temperatures in compartments including the ice-machine shop, machine shop, radio and gyro rooms, steering engine-room, radio motor-generator room, and, last but not least, the barbershop.