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Ordered on 10th June 1925 as part, of an expansion programme for the Royal Australian Navy including two cruisers and two submarines which were to be built in UK. This vessel exceptionally was to be built in. Australia by the RAN Dockyard at Cockatoo Island, Sydney which would result in a saving of £1m and also be politically advantageous. She was laid down on 16th June 1926 as Yard No 106 and launched by Lady Ethel Stonehaven, wife of the Governor General on 23rd February 1928 as the 12th RN ship to carry the name, introduced in 1795 for a Brig Sloop built at Rochester. It had last been used by five minor warships hired during WW1 and which were identified by numeric suffices I to V inclusive. .Build was completed on 21st December 1928 and the ship was commissioned as HMAS ALBATROSS. Her RAN service was short, lived and she paid off and was placed in Reserve after refit in 1933. In 1939 this ship was transferred to the Royal Navy as part payment for HM Australian Cruiser HOBART (Ex-HMS APOLLO) being built, in UK. She is not shown in the Admiralty record of adoptions by civil communities after WARSHIP WEEK campaigns in 1941-42.
B a t t l e H o n o u r s
ATLANTIC 1939-42 - NORMANDY 1944
H e r a l d i c D a t a
Badge: On a Field Barry wavy white and blue
an Albatross volant proper.
D e t a i l s o f S e r v i c e
1 9 2 8
November Builders trials
Acceptance sea trials.
December Completion of sea trials.
21st Build completion.
with Seagull Mk 3 seaplanes
1 9 2 9
January Deployed as Guard-ship at Hobart, Tasmania during Annual Royal Regatta.
to On completion took passage to Port Phillip Bay to re-embark RAAF SEAGULL III
March seaplanes (above and following three photographs) and deployed in Jervis Bay area for trials
and working up for RAN service.
(Note: Limitations of operation this aircraft in anything but calm weather were
exposed during the trials.)
April Deployed for further trials and exercises in Sydney area.
to Embarked Governor General and wife for visit to Australian Mandated Territories
August in SW Pacific.
September Local deployment in continuation.
1 9 3 0 t o 1 9 3 2
Deployed at Darwin for reconnaissance flights over approaches to Northern Territories.
1 9 3 3
January Local deployment in continuation.
April Aircraft disembarked and Paid off.
Reduced to Reserve status.
May Used as base for visiting seaplanes.
1 9 3 4 t o 1 9 3 5
January Reserve service in continuation..
1 9 3 6
Under refit during which new catapult was fitted.
Re-commissioned to carry out trials on catapult
Paid-off into Reserve on completion.
1 9 3 7
Returned to Reserve on completion.
Discussions with RN relating to transfer in part, payment for build of cruiser for
RAN - see above.
1 9 3 8
January In Reserve.
to March Transfer to RN agreed.
19th Re-commissioned for passage to UK.
May Prepared for passage to UK
11th Sailed from Sydney for UK with calls at Singapore, Colombo and Suez.
8th Arrived in UK. Paid-off from RAN and transferred to RN.
October Held in Reserve and under refit.
to One crane removed.
1 9 3 9
January In Reserve.
to Allocated for deployment at war station to provide air surveillance.
June Commissioned as HMS ALBATROSS for service.
War Station at Freetown allocated
July Carried out harbour and sea trials
to Prepared for use at Freetown.
August Six WALRUS aircraft embarked.
D e t a i l s o f W a r S e r v i c e
(for more ship information, go to Naval History Homepage and type name in Site Search
September Worked-up for service and took passage to Freetown
to Deployed as static base for air operations in Atlantic.
December Provided air reconnaissance for trade defence and interception of blockade runners
and commerce raiders.
(Note: Visits were paid to Bathurst in the Gambia and French naval base at Dakar
1 9 4 0
January Freetown deployment in continuation.
to Air Operations included anti-submarine patrol.
June Deployed with HM Cruiser DEVONSHIRE between Freetown and Dakar.
(Note: This was part of precautionary moves after French collapse.
July Freetown deployment in continuation.
to (Note: NOT actively part of Operation MENACE for occupation of Dakar by
December Free French in September. During this operation Free French troops
were supported by ships detached from the Home Fleet and Force H at
Gibraltar. lt was a disastrous failure. See MENACE by A Marder.)
Christmas Card, possibly 1940 (or 1941), courtesy John Phillips,
detail from card
1 9 4 1
January Freetown deployment in continuation
February Passage to Simonstown for essential repair
March On completion returned to Freetown.
April Deployed at Freetown
to Nominated for refit at Mobile, Alabama, USA.
October Disembarked aircraft
November Passage to Alabama
to Prepared for refit.
1 9 4 2
January Under refit at Mobile.
April Post refit trials and passage to Freetown.
Nominated for support of planned operations in Indian Ocean.
May Transferred to East Indies Station.
3rd Took passage from Freetown as part of Ocean Escort for military convoy WS18
with HM Cruiser GAMBIA and HM Destroyer TETCOTT.
15th Detached from W518 of Cape of Good Hope.
(Note: This convoy ran into minefield off Cape of Good Hope. HM Depot Ship HECLA
19th Rejoined WS19 with HM Cruiser FROBISHER as Ocean Escort for passage in the
23rd Detached from WS18 to refuel and rejoined on 24th May.
(Note: HM Battleship RESOLUTION Joined as Ocean Escort)
30th Detached from WS18 with HMS RESOLUTION.
June Deployed in Indian Ocean for trade defence.
July Deployed with HM Destroyers GRIFFIN and FOXHOUND to establish forward base
at Ile Mayote in Mozambique Channel, north west of Madagascar.
(Note: Base was to be established for anti-submarine patrols using four CATALINA
aircraft consequent on increase in U-Boat activity in Mozambique Channel.
See WAR WITH JAPAN Volume III (HMSO).
This project was not implemented as enemy offensive ceased.)
Returned to Kilindini.
August Indian Ocean deployment in continuation.
Nominated for support of landings in Madagascar (Operation STREAM).
(Note: This was to occupy the whole island following partial occupation in May
1942 (Operation IRONCLAD) - See Naval Staff History and THE WATERY
MAZE by B Fergusson.)
10th Deployed with HM Fleet Aircraft Carrier ILLUSTRIOUS to provide air cover for the
landings of British troops in Madagascar.
(Note: Ships deployed, identified as Force M, included HM Cruisers CARADOC,
GAMBIA, BIRMINGHAM, MANXMAN and DAUNTLESS, HM Monitor
EREBUS and twelve destroyers. See above reference.)
October Resumed support of air surveillance in Indian Ocean for trade defence.
November Nominated for refit.
Aircraft disembarked for shore based service
19th Sailed to Durban for refit.
December Under refit at Durban
1 9 4 3
January Under refit
February Completion of refit arranged at Bombay
Passage to Bombay with calls at Kilindini
March Under repair and refit by HM Dockyard, Bombay
to (Note: Leave granted at rest camps.)
July Nominated for return to UK.
15th Took passage to Devonport with calls at Durban. Simonstown, Point Noire and
August On passage
September Arrived at Devonport.
Paid-off and withdrawn from service as an aircraft base ship.
October Nominated for conversion as a Repair Ship
Taken in hand for conversion
November Under conversion.
to Extensive changes made Included removal of catapult and forward main armament.
December Workshop facilities provided in former hangar area.
Radar Type 286 was fitted on a new tripod foremast and close range AA defence was
supplemented by six extra 20mm Oerlikon weapons.
1 9 4 4
January Under conversion
to Selected for support of allied landings in France on completion.
April Allocated for duty with Force S on completion of refit.
Re-commissioned as HMS ALBATROSS and prepared for support duties in
(Note: To be designated as Landing Ship (Engineering - LSE).
For details of naval activities prior to and during NEPTUNE see OPERATION
NEPTUNE by K Edwards and LANDINGS IN NORMANDY, June 1944
LANDINGS IN NORMANDY does not include allocated to an Assault
May Joined Force S based at Portsmouth.
Allocated for repair of Landing Craft in GOOSEBERRY 5 to be established NE
of Ouistreham, Normandy and to take passage after Assault Phase.
See above references.
June Deployed for deception operation.
Sailed from Portsmouth and joined convoy for passage to Southend through
Deployed in Nore Command area for deception operation.
8th Took passage passage from Thames estuary to GOOSEBERRY 5 location.
9th Ran aground on Goodwin Sands but refloated after 24 hours with assistance.
Came under air attack by single Me109 aircraft without serious damage.)
10th Deployed for repair duties on arrival at Beachhead.
Provided naval gunfire support and supplemented AA defence of anchorage.
Under shore fire during which one rating was killed.
19th Onset of extreme north easterly gale which caused extensive damage to many
to ships engaged in NEPTUNE. See above references.
23rd (Note: During this period repair parties from ship saved 79 craft from total loss
and enabled 132 others to resume service off the beachhead.)
27th Retained off beachhead for continuation of repair task when NEPTUNE
July Passage to Portsmouth to replenish and give leave,
Resumed Repair Ship duty off JUNO Beach.
(Note: This included completion of work on craft damaged in gale.)
August Normandy deployment in continuation.
11th Hit by torpedo and sustained major structural damage with many casualties;
66 of ships company lost their lives
(Note: Post war assessments suggest the weapon used was a new design
'circling' torpedo which searched for possible targets.)
Withdrawn from service and taken in tow by Dutch tug ZWARTE ZEE to
September Under repair by HM Dockyard Portsmouth.
to (Note: In view of urgent need for repair of other ships it may be assumed that
December the work involved would be given a low priority.)
1 9 4 5
January Repair in continuation.
to Nominated for service as depot ship in support of minesweepers
April Depot Ships deployment in continuation.
to Nominated for reduction to Reserve.
3rd Paid-off and reduced to Reserve status
Laid-up at Plymouth pending disposal.
P o s t W a r N o t e s
HMS ALBATROSS was placed on the Disposal List in 1946 and sold to South Western Steam Navigation Company for use as a mercantile on 19th August 1946. Initially named PRIDE OF TORQUAY but later renamed HELLENIC PRINCE. The ship was used for transport of immigrants between Naples and Australia. She continued mercantile use until sold to a British Ship-breaker in 1954.and broken up in Hong Kong where she arrived in tow on 12th August 1954.
Convoy Escort Movements of HMS ALBATROSS
by Don Kindell
A CHRISTMAS CARD from HMS ALBATROSS, c 1940
from John Phillips
I had a number of relatives, both close and distant who served on various ships. One Great Uncle died in submarine G8 during WW1, and another perished on the SS RIVER AFTON lost in Russian Convoy Q17 in July 1942. Also my uncle (mother's brother) was on HMS ALBATROSS, and I have worked out that he was on board from 1940 to the end of 1941,when she was sent to Alabama for a refit. He was then posted to other duties, some shore-based, when he was taken seriously ill with spinal meningitis. This quirk of fate saved his life as otherwise he would have been another casualty lost on HMS HOOD. Attached is a drawing of HMS ALBATROSS which was used as a Christmas Card. Looking at the ship's crest, I assume the five stars represent the Australian flag and her time in Australian service.
The SUPERMARINE SEAGULL SEAPLANE
from Bob ‘Windy’ Geale, Australian Fleet Air Arm Museum
Most of the photographs are of the Seagull Mark III, a ‘puller’ except for the Seagull V, a ‘pusher’. The RAN bought 24 Supermarine Seagull Mark V in 1933, incidentally designed by R J Mitchell of Spitfire fame. They were used for flying off cruisers and Armed Merchant Cruisers and only one ever flew off HMAS ALBATROSS in the RAN and that was when the catapult was tested. Later, when the Royal Navy saw the Seagull V and realised it was what they needed, they placed an order in 1935 and the Walrus was born. The only differences between the Seagull V and Walrus are small and only recognized by those who had flown both. The RAN later acquired 24 Walrus and flew them until 1945.