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SERVICE HISTORIES of ROYAL NAVY WARSHIPS in WORLD WAR 2

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

HMS AUDACITY (D 10), first escort carrier conversion

Edited by Gordon Smith, Naval-History.Net

HMS Audacity (CyberHeritage, no enlargement) return to Contents List 
 

First Royal Navy Auxiliary Aircraft Carrier which, as German mercantile HANNOVER, was captured on 8th March 1940 when intercepted in the West Indies by HM Cruiser DUNEDIN and HM† Canadian Destroyer ASSINIBOINE. She had been laid down for use as a Refrigerated Cargo Ship and had completed build at Bremen in May 1939. The ship was requisitioned by the Admiralty and in November 1940 was taken in hand for conversion as a Ocean Boarding Vessel named SINBAD. However† in January 1941 she was selected for deployment as the first mercantile to be converted for use as an escort aircraft carrier. The changes made included removal of existing superstructure to allow fit of a wooden flight deck for the full length of the ship. The work was carried out by Blyth Dock SB and the ship commissioned as EMPIRE AUDACITY on 20th June 1941. Ballast had to be added to ensure stability and this ship was fitted with a new design† radar for aircraft warning purposes, Type 79B. The first of this type, which used only one mast had been fitted in HM Battlecruiser HOOD shortly before her loss in May 1941 (See RADAR AT SEA by D Howse.) †Six fighter aircraft were to be carried and had to be kept on the flight deck as no hangar was provided. The name was changed to HMS AUDACITY after conversion in order to avoid confusion with other mercantiles entering service after September 1939 either as new or captured vessels† used for trade.

 

B a t t l e†† H o n o u r s

 

ATLANTIC† 1941

 

H e r a l d i c†† D a t a

None† is recorded† in the Official† List.

 

 

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 1

June†††††††††††††††††††††††Contractors trials.

††††††††††††††† 20th††††††† Commissioned for service as HMS EMPIRE AUDACITY for service in Western

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Approaches for convoy defence.

July†††††††††††††††††††††††† Acceptance and first of Class trials in Clyde area.

††††††††††††††† 10th††††††† Carried out first deck landing by MARTLET aircraft of 802 Squadron.

††††††††††††††† 31st†††††††† Renamed HMS AUDACITY. See Preamble.

August††††††††††††††††† Trials including flying operations in continuation.

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Embarked MARTLET aircraft and personnel 804 Squadron.

September†††††††††††† Joined Western Approaches Command for convoy defence on UK-Gibraltar Route.

††††††††††††††† 13th††††††† Deployed with HM Sloop DEPTFORD, HM Corvettes PENTSTEMON, MARIGOLD,

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ARBUTUS and another corvette of 36th Escort Group as escort for outward

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Convoy OG74. during passage to Gibraltar.

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† (For details of defence of Atlantic convoys see THE BATTLE OF THE ATLANTIC by

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† D. MacIntyre, U-BOAT WAR IN THE ATLANTIC (HMSO) and HITLER'S U-BOAT

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† WAR by C Blair.)

††††††††††††††† 19th††††††† Under attacks by U124 and U201 during which a three mercantiles was sunk.

††††††††††††††† to††††††††††† MARTLET aircraft launched after daylight and drove off attacks by KONDOR aircraft,

††††††††††††††† 20th††††††† one of which was destroyed.

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† For details see HITLERíS U-BOAT WAR by C Blair, ALLIED CONVOY SYSTEM

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 1939 and 1945 by A Hague and BRITISH VESSELS LOST AT SEA 1939-45 (HMSO)

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† (Note: Rescue ship WALMER CASTLE was also sunk by an air attack.)

††††††††††††††† 27th††††††† Arrived at Gibraltar with OG74.

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† (Note: Three other of the 22 ships in this convoy were sunk during passage.)

October                 

                2nd         Sailed from Gibraltar with inward Convoy HG74 as part of escort to provide air cover

                                during passage to Liverpool

                18th        Detached on arrival of HG75 in Liverpool.

                29th        Deployed with escort of outward Convoy OG76 to provide air cover during passage from

                                Clyde to Gibraltar

 

November

                11th        Detached from OG76 on arrival at Gibraltar

                                (Note: Provided air cover for 10 days and the embarked destroyed two FW200

                                aircraft attempting attacks on convoy and escort.)

                                Remained at Gibraltar to await approval for sailing with Convoy HG76 to

                                provide anti-submarine air patrols and defence against enemy air reconnaissance during

                                passage to Liverpool.

                                (Note: Known presence of assembly of U-Boats to attack this convoy had delayed

                                until an adequate escort could be provided to ensure safe passage.)

                                See THE BATTLE OF THE ATLANTIC by D Macintyre.)

 

December††††††††††††† Deployed at Gibraltar

††††††††††††††† 14th††††††† Sailed from Gibraltar with HM Sloops STORK and DEPTFORD, HM Corvettes

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† RHODODENDRON, PENTSTEMON, MARIGOLD, JONQUIL, CONVOLVULUS,

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† SAMPHIRE and VETCH of augmented 36th Escort Group as escort for return

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Convoy HG76.

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† (Note: HMS BLANKNEY and HMS EXMOOR from Gibraltar Local Flotilla were attached

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† with HM Destroyer STANLEY to provide additional protection for HG76 known to be

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† subject to threat of heavy U-Boat attacks.

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† The departure of HG76 was not accurately reported by the agents in Algeciras

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† because of poor visibility when convoy sailed. See HITLERíS U-BOAT WAR

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Vol 1 by C Blair.)

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† SWORDFISH aircraft sighted U-Boat on the surface and carried out depth charge attack

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† after nightfall. See above reference.)

††††††††††††††† 15th††††††† U-Boat Group SEERAUBER assembled for attacks on HG76 with KONDOR support.

††††††††††††††† 17th††††††† U131 sighted by MARTLET aircraft from ship.

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Submarine subsequently dived but, was located and attacked by escort..

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† After surfacing U131 was sunk by gunfire from HMS STORK, HMS BLANKNEY,

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† HMS EXMOOR and HMS STANLEY in position 34.12N 13.35W. 35 of submarine crew

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† were rescued.

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† (Note: MARTLET aircraft from ship was shot down by U131.

††††††††††††††† 18th††††††† U434 sunk by Depth Charges from HMS STANLEY and HMS BLANKNEY in position

††††††††††††††† ††††††††††††††† 36.15N 15.48W and survivors from U434 were rescued.

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Shadowing aircraft were driven off.

††††††††††††††† 19th††††††† After sinking of HMS STANLEY by torpedo from U574, submarine was rammed and sunk

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† by HMS STORK. 20 survivors rescued but five were killed when HMS DEPTFORD collided

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† with stem of HMS STORK.

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† (Note: 28 British survivors from HMS STANLEY were also rescued.)

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Two KONDOR aircraft were destroyed.

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† One mercantile was sunk by U108

††††††††††††††† 21st†††††††† Two KONDOR aircraft driven off by ships' MARTLETs.

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Detached from convoy at nightfall in view of likely U-Boat attacks.

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Hit aft by one torpedo fired by U571. Ship steering disabled but maintained way.

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† (Note: Ship construction was well able to withstand this single hit which did

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† cause structural damage and enough flooding in engine room for ship to settle

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† by the stem. Some of ships company jumped overboard.)

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† U571 made second attack firing salvo of torpedoes. These hit the ship, one of them hit

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† aviation fuel storage tanks and caused massive explosion forward. Ship then sank quickly

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† with survivors left in the sea for some hours as rescue work was only possible after escorts

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† returned from attacks on U-Boats still in the area for further attacks on HG76 ships.

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Some survivors had been in the water for over four hours. (Casualty List - note on casualties)

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† One mercantile was sunk by U567

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† (Note: Details of the defence of HG76 are in the above references.

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† These operations established without doubt that the presence of an Escort-Aircraft

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Carrier was an essential element for defence of any convoy.

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† See General Information and THE BRITISH AIRCRAFT CARRIER by Paul Beaver.

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† and ROYAL NAVY ESCORT AIRCRAFT CARRIERS by D Hobbs.)

 

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