Escort Aircraft Carrier obtained under UK/US
Lend-Lease Agreement. The ship was under
construction for mercantile use by
Seattle-Tacoma SB Corporation at Seattle and
had been laid down on 20th February 1942.. The
ship was launched on 20th July 1942 and
requisitioned by the US Navy on 27th July 1942
for completion by Willamette
Iron and Steel Works at Portland, Oregon as an
auxiliary aircraft carrier (CVE22). On 7th
April 1943 the day before build was completed
the ship was formally transferred to the Royal
Navy and commissioned as HMS SEARCHER. in
Tacoma. The 2nd Royal Navy warship to carry
the name, first used by a 1918 destroyer sold
in 1938. She was fitted out for use as an
Assault Carrier and intended for support of
amphibious landing operations. Royal Navy
radar equipment was fitted during build.
1943-44 - AEGEAN 1944 - SOUTH FRANCE
1944 - NORWAY 1944-45
On a field White, a bloodhound’s head erased
9 4 3
Contractors trials at Portland.
Moved to Tacoma.
Commissioned for Royal Navy service as HMS
SEARCHER at build yard
Prepared for sea trials
Passage to Puget
to carry out Acceptance Trials.
Degaussing equipment fitted.
British Consul visited ship and commenced
During machinery trials defects in machinery
pipe-work required attention and delayed
ship was built using prefabricated units and
welded construction. As she was the first
ship of this type
to be completed by this shipyard some of the
defects may have been due
to poor quality
On completion of repair checked DG equipment
on local Range
Passage to Esquimalt
for modifications by HM Canadian Dockyard
to suit RN use.
Docked on arrival for
repair by dockyard and ship’s staff.
Governor General of Canada,
Earl of Athlone
Resumed sea trials including gunnery
Carried out trials of propulsion machinery
Carried out AA firings against sleeve
target and surface shoot.
Flooding damage caused due to firing of 4in
Under repair to flooding.
Took passage to Panama.
Passage in Caribbean
to join HX Series convoy prior to Atlantic
passage to UK
Sustained major damage in extreme weather
conditions during passage
was caused to ship structure and to pipework
Diverted to Norfolk,
Arrived at Norfolk
and taken in hand for docking and repair.
carried out included repair to propulsion
machinery defects during passage to east
coast of USA
which required removal of decks structure to
obtain access to Engine room.
of defective equipment.)
On completion of machinery trials took
passage to New York..
Sailed from New
as part of routine Convoy HX246 to Liverpool.
(Note: Ship was
carrying crated aircraft supplied under
Detached from HX246 on arrival at Liverpool.
Taken in hand for completion of
modifications to suit RN use for convoy
defence and deployment
as a Fighter
Nominated for service in Western Approaches
Carried out post refit
aircraft and personnel of 882 and 898
Commenced work-up in Clyde
Diverted to provide air cover for passage of
convoys in NW Approaches/
Anti-submarine defence patrols were launched
for Outward Convoy ON207 and inward
Convoy defence deployment in continuation
was provided for inward Convoy HGX264
For details of tactics used in defence of
convoys by support groups with air support
OF THE ATLANTIC by D
Macintyre, U-BOAT WAR IN THE
ATLANTIC (HMSO) and
BUSINESS IN GREAT WATERS by J Terraine.)
Passage to Argentia,
for this deployment to be established.)
Deployed at Argentia.
Deployed for Atlantic convoy defence.
Provided cover for passage of US Tanker
Convoy UC8 during Atlantic passage.
Developed machinery defects during cover
operations and escorted by US Destroyer USS
York for repair.
9 4 4
Taken in hand for repair.
Resumed Atlantic convoy defence duties on
completion of post refit trials.
Took passage to Liverpool
(Note: Provision of air cover for convoy
during passage to be confirmed)
arrival at Liverpool
deployed for completion of work-up
Nominated for service with Home Fleet for
support of operations in defence of Russian
and offensive air
operations against Norwegian coast shipping.
Passage to Scapa Flow
on completion of work-up
Deployed with HM Escort Carriers EMPEROR,
PURSUER and FENCER and ships of Home
Fleet to provide cover for passage of
Russian Convoy JW58 and to carry out
attack on the
German battleship TIRPITZ in Altenfjord,
Fleet ships included HM Battleship ANSON,
HM Aircraft Carriers FURIOUS
HM Cruisers BELFAST,
with screen of
14 Fleet Destroyers.
(For details of all Russian Convoys with
names of ships involved see CONVOYS TO
by RA Ruegg,
THE RUSSIAN CONVOYS by B Schoefield,
CONVOY ! by
Kemp and ARCTIC
CONVOYS by R Woodman.)
Deployed for support of air attacks on
German battleship TIRPITZ in Altenfjord
with cover from
ships of Home Fleet.
Returned to Scapa Flow
and prepared for planned air strikes on
Norwegian coast shipping
Part of Home Fleet force covering
transit of Russian Convoy RA58 to UK
from Kola Inlet.
Returned to Scapa
with Home Fleet ships after arrival of
Joined HMS FURIOUS, HM Escort Carriers
STRIKER, PURSUER and EMPEROR for further
air attacks on
TIRPITZ covered by HM Battleships ANSON
and DUKE OF YORK,
of the Home Fleet.
Operation delayed by weather conditions.
Operation cancelled after flying prevented
by continued bad weather.
Carried out air attacks on shipping in Bodo
areas off coast of Norway.
(Operations RIDGE ABLE
and RIDGE BAKER.)
ships were sunk off Bodo,
but RIDGE BAKER off Bodo
was abandoned due to
Nominated for planned air operations
against Norwegian coast shipping
Deployed with HMS FURIOUS and HM Cruiser
BERWICK, HM Destroyers SAVAGE, WIZARD,
WAKEFUL, ALGONQUIN (RCN),
Polish ORP PIORUN and Polish ORP
(Note: One mercantile ss
ALMOR was sunk, ss
SAARBURG and three smaller mercantiles
damaged for the
loss of two aircraft from other carriers.
Two Bv138 were shot down.)
Deployed with HM Escort Carriers STRIKER
and EMPEROR for attack on convoy off
North and strikes against shore targets
enemy aircraft were destroyed with loss of
two HELLCAT aircraft from other carriers.)
After return to Scapa
took passage to Rosyth for routine
maintenance and repair prior to
defence service in Western Approaches.
Passage to Clyde
for convoy defence duties.
Deployed to provide anti-submarine air
cover for convoys in NW Approaches.
Provided cover for outward joint Convoy
Provided cover for inward joint Convoy
during passage to Liverpool.
Nominated for service with Force H at Gibraltar
in support of planned allied landings in
DRAGOON, formerly ANVIL).
Detached from SL161/KMS and returned to Clyde.
898 Squadron amalgamated with 882
Sailed for Malta
to join HM Escort Aircraft Carriers
ATTACKER, EMPEROR, KHEDIVE,
HUNTER, PURSUER , US Navy escort carriers
USS TULAGI and KASAAN BAY in Task
Force 88 under overall US Navy command.
Joined TF88.in Malta
Transferred to Task Group 88.1 which
Joined HM Escort Carriers ATTACKER,
EMPEROR, KHEDIVE, PURSUER, HM Cruisers
HM Destroyers TROUBRIDGE, TUSCAN, TYRIAN,
WHEATLAND and Greek
NAVARINON in Task Group 88.1.
Carried out preparatory exercises with
Sailed from Malta
with ships of TF88.1
(Note Passage made via Tunisian War
Channel and Convoy Route 2)
Provided air cover, bombardment spotting,
strafing and shore strikes during
required by US
Air Task Force Commander.
details see LANDINGS IN SOUTH FRANCE
(HMSO), ENGAGE THE ENEMY MORE
CLOSELY, ROYAL NAVY ESCORT CARRIERS by D Hobbs
and the Naval Staff History).
Details of number and types of sorties
made and losses to enemy action and by
Passage to Maddalena
with TG88.1 to replenish and for
Resumed duties off beach head with TG88.1.
Attacks made on retreating German troops
damage caused due to accidental firing of
aircraft guns when in
the operation there were 40 deck landing
Returned to Maddalena
Released from DRAGOON when TG88.1
disbanded and took passage to Malta.
Nominated for service
with British Aegean Force.
Passage to Alexandria
for support of planned re-occupation
Deployed with HM Escort Carriers HUNTER,
KHEDIVE and PURSUER to carry out air
enemy shipping and on occupied islands in
(Operation OUTING I )
ships involved included Escort Carriers
released from TF88.1 and HM Cruisers
ORION, AJAX, ROYALIST, BLACK PRINCE, ARGONAUT. AURORA,
with destroyers of 24th and HUNT Class
Escorts based at Alexandria.
Aegean support operations in
Provided air cover for minesweeping
operations in Kithera
Air support operations in continuation in
Returned to Alexandria.
Released from Mediterranean service and
nominated for return to UK
Took passage to UK
Sailed from Gibraltar
Disembarked aircraft and Squadron
Took passage from Belfast
to Green for refit in Clyde
9 4 5
Nominated for service in Home Fleet on
completion of post refit trials
Refit work competed and re-embarked 882
Squadron aircraft and personnel.
Worked up for operational service in Clyde
On completion of work-up took passage to
rejoin Home Fleet at Scapa
Resumed Fleet service on arrival.
Embarked two FIREFLY
aircraft of 746 Squadron.
Nominated for planned air minelay and
shipping attacks (Operation CUPOLA)
Carried out last joint air minelay and
shipping attacks off Norway
with HM Escort
Carriers PREMIER and QUEEN, covered by HM
Cruiser BELLONA screened by HM
ZEST, SERAPIS, HAIDA (RCN)
and IROQUOIS (RCN).
minelaying operation started in August
1944. See Naval Staff
Carried out shipping strikes off Trondheim
with HMS QUEEN (Operation PREFIX)
ship targets were found but 882 Squadron
Fighters shot down three Me109 and
Home Fleet deployment in continuation
Nominated for air operations with HM
Escort Aircraft Carriers PUNCHER, QUEEN
U-boat Base at Kilbotn
near Narvik (Operation NEWMARKET).
Sailed with strike force
for planned attacks.
aborted due to adverse weather conditions
and ships returned to Scapa
Deployed with HM Escort Carriers QUEEN and
TRUMPETER for shipping strikes west
of Narvik and
attacks on U-Boat base at Kilbotn
covered by HM Cruisers DIADEM and
with HM Destroyers CARYSFORT, OPPORTUNE,
SAVAGE, SCOURGE and
ZAMBESI and were later joined by HM
Destroyers OBEDIENT and ORWELL.
(Operation JUDGEMENT - The Codeword
previously used for the attack on Taranto
During attacks at Kilbotn
near Harstad by AVENGER aircraft from
carriers the German
Submarine Depot Ship BLACK WATCH and U711
which lying alongside the tender,
was the last U-Boat to be sunk by an
aircraft during hostilities.)
Deployed with Home Fleet units at Copenhagen
for surrender of German warships.
passage to Copenhagen
on 6th some Ju88 aircraft were intercepted
allowed to fly unmolested.)
Took return passage from Copenhagen
Nominated for refit prior to service in
the East Indies Fleet
Passage to Clyde.
Taken in hand for refit
Nominated for service in 21st Aircraft
Carrier Squadron based at Trincomalee.
On completion of post refit trials
embarked 24 WILDCAT aircraft for
transports to East
Took passage to Trincomalee
Passage to Cochin
and disembarked aircraft
Passage to Trincomalee with call at Colombo