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by Lt Cdr Geoffrey B Mason RN (Rtd) (c) 2006

HMS ATHELING (D 51) - Ruler-class Escort Aircraft Carrier
including Convoy Escort Movements 

Edited by Gordon Smith, Naval-History.Net

HMS Atheling (Navy Photos/Mark Teadham, click to enlarge) return to Contents List 

RULER-Class Escort Aircraft Carrier obtained under US/UK Lend Lease Agreement and to be name SETTER in RN service. A mercantile under construction by Kaiser at Vancouver, Washington,  USA was initially to be transferred but was retained for US Navy use and became USS ANGUILLA BAY when commissioned. Another hull under construction in the same yard was then selected for transfer but this ship also was retained for US naval service and named USS MISSION BAY. AS a result another similar mercantile laid down in June 1942 at Seattle by Seattle-Tacoma SB Corporation and intended to enter US service as USS GLACIER was provided. The ship had  been launched on 7th September 1942 and transferred on 30th July 1943. Although original name selected was HMS SETTER this was changed to HMS ATHELING when she was then commissioned as the first RN ship to carry this name.


B a t t l e   H o n o u r s

None  are  recorded.


H e r a l d i c   D a t a

On a Field Blue, a Sword and a Spear in saltire enfiled by a Saxon Crown all Gold.

(Note: Unusually this is listed in the official record of Heraldic Crests

despite the fact that the name had not been used previously, nor since WW2.)



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



1 9 4 3



                3rd          Commissioned as USS GLACIER.

                30th        Build completion by US Navy Yard Puget Sound..

                                (Note: Changes required prior to US Navy use including radar equipment were carried out after

                                build work at Seattle was finished .

                31st         De-commissioned by US Navy



                1st           Formal transfer to Royal Navy

                                Passage to RCN Dockyard at Esquimalt for modifications to suit RN use as an Escort Carrier.


September             Under modification.


October                  RCN dockyard work in continuation.

                28th        On completion of modifications commissioned for RN service as HMS ATHELING.


November              Carried out sea trials in shakedown off Esquimalt.


December              Prepared for ocean passage to New York via Panama

                6th          Transit of Panama Canal.

                                Passage to New York

                22nd       Arrived at New York.

                                (Note: 12 CORSAIR aircraft were embarked for transport to UK and destined for 1836

                                Squadron. Place of embarkation to be investigated.).


1 9 4 4



                1st           Passage to UK

                                (Note: Identity of convoy joined to be investigated.)

                10th        Arrived in Clyde

                                (Note: Date and place of Disembarkation of aircraft to be investigated..)

                                Under modification for use as a Fighter Carrier


February                Under modification

                26th        Embarked BARRACUDA and CORSAIR aircraft embarked for transport to Eastern Fleet.



                3rd          Joined Convoy KMF29 during passage from Liverpool.

                17th        Detached from KMF29A on arrival in Port Said.

                23rd        Transit of Suez Canal.

                28th        Joined Convoy AJ2 at Aden for passage to Colombo.



                9th          Joined Convoy JC34A for passage from Colombo to Madras.

                11th        Landed aircraft.

                16th        Joined Convoy CJ343A for passage from Madras to Colombo.



                2nd         Joined HM Escort Aircraft. Carriers, BEGUM and SHAH at Trincomalee

                                Prepared for Fleet service

                13th        Embarked 899 Squadron SEAFIRE aircraft and personnel together with 1383 CORSAIR

                                aircraft and personnel.

                                Nominated for support of planned Fleet operation.

                                Deployed with HM Fleet Aircraft Carrier ILLUSTRIOUS for trials in use of Multi-carrier

                                operations to allow use as Spare Deck in the event of damage during enemy attacks.

                                ((Note: This operation established that speed was insufficient for this type of carrier to

                                be used for Fleet operations as a Spare Deck).


June                        Deployed with HMS ILLUSTRIOUS for diversion operation during US attacks in

                                the Marianas (Operation COUNCILLOR –an element of US Operation FORAGER).

                11th        Carried out attacks with HMS ILLUSTRIOUS on targets at Sabang, Sumatra.




July                         Nominated for deployment to provide convoy defence and anti-submarine search operations

                                in the Indian Ocean.

                21st         Embarked 818 Squadron SWORDFISH aircraft and personnel.

                                Deployed for convoy defence.


August                  Convoy defence service in continuation

                                Nominated for transfer of 818 Squadron CORSAIR aircraft and personnel to South Africa.

                21st         Sailed from Trincomalee with aircraft and personnel embarked.

                                (Note: This deployment may have been made in response to known increase in U-Boat

                                activity in the South Atlantic and southern Indian Ocean. See WAR WITH JAPAN




                2nd         Called at Mauritius

                12th        Arrived at Cape Town and disembarked aircraft and personnel.

                                Re-embarkation of 818 Squadron to be confirmed

                                Too passage to Cochin.



                6th          Disembarked 818 Squadron aircraft and personnel.

                10th        Arrived at Trincomalee.

                                Nominated for further service as Ferry Carrier for Eastern Fleet

                                (Note: Pennant Number R304 was allocated for visual signalling purposes to

                                conform with US Navy identity for warships of this type.)


November              Deployed for ferry duties.


December              Transferred on loan for detached service on loan to US Navy for transport of aircraft

                                required for support of operations in SW Pacific.

                8th          Took passage to Sydney.


 1 9 4 5


January                  Deployed for ferry duties as required by US Navy



                4th          Arrived at British Pacific Fleet Forward Base at Manus, Admiralty Islands.

                15th        Arrived at Pearl Harbour, Hawaii.


March                    US Navy detached service in continuation

to                            Service in Pacific to be confirmed




                15th        End of hostilities against Japan.

                                Passage to Norfolk Va on termination of Loan Service to be confirmed

                23rd        Arrived at Norfolk Navy Yard

                                Took passage Plymouth



                3rd          Called at Trinidad.

                16th        Arrived in Plymouth

                                Nominated for service as a troopship.

                                Taken in hand for conversion to suit new role.


P o s t   W a r   N o t e s


HMS ATHELING carried out trooping duty until November 1946 and in that period made two trips for transport of service and  civilian personnel from the Far East to UK. The ship was then de-stored and prepared for return to US Navy control at Norfolk. After formal hand-over on 13th December 1946 she was placed on the Sales List and sold for use as a mercantile and renamed ss ROMA. In 1967 she was sold to an Italian ship breaker and arrived at Valo for demolition in November that year.







by Don Kindell


These convoy lists have not been cross-checked with the text above






Date convoy sailed

Joined convoy as escort

Convoy No.

Left convoy

Date convoy arrived








CJ 023B








(Note on Convoys)



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revised 15/10/10
further editing and formatting is required


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