The escort aircraft carrier was a small aircraft carrier developed by the U.S. Navy just prior to World War II. They were initially refered to as 'auxiliary aircraft escort vessels', and then 'auxiliary aircraft carrier', before the Navy settled on 'escort aircraft carrier'. They were also known as 'Jeep carriers' and 'baby flat tops'. They were typically around 500 feet long, as compared to the nearly 900 foot long carriers of the same era. Escort carriers are designated CVE.
Escort carriers were used to hunt submarines, for patrols, scouting, and the escorting of convoys. They were developed at the behest of Great Britain, and many of the ships produced were assigned to the Royal Navy for the duration of the war.
Over 100 escort carriers were launched during the war. Following the war, this class of ship was retired.