Naval History Homepage and Site Search




by Lt Cdr Geoffrey B Mason RN (Rtd) (c) 2005

HMS ATTACKER  (D 02) - Attacker-class Escort Aircraft Carrier
including Convoy Escort Movements

HMS Stalker, sister ship (Navy Photos, click to enlarge) return to Contents List 

ATTACKER-Class Escort Aircraft Carrier obtained under US/UK Land Lease Agreement. The ship was under construction at San Francisco by Western Pipe and Steel Corporation for the Ithanian Steamship Company and had been laid down on 7th April 1941 as Yard No.62. She was launched on 27th September 1941 as STEEL ARTISAN and requisitioned by the US Navy on 26th December 1941 for conversion as an auxiliary aircraft carrier to be named USS BARNES  (AVG7). She was later selected, with nine others of this Class for transfer to the RN. Design changes made were based on the experience gained with the earlier ARCHER Class and included a larger  hangar. Propulsion machinery consisted of two steam turbines driving a single shaft instead of Diesel engines used for previous ships. Her build was completed on 30th September 1942 when the ship was formally transferred to the RN as HMS ATTACKER. This name had not previously been used for an RN warship.


B a t t l e  H o n o u r s


SALERNO 1943 - ATLANTIC 1943-44 -  SOUTH FRANCE 1944 - AEGEAN 1944


H e r a l d i c  D a t a

Badge: On a Field Blue, a Ram in the act of butting Proper.

    (Note: This was introduced after WW2 see Post War Notes) 



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 2


September             Contractors trials

                30th        Build completion and commissioned as HMS ATTACKER.

                                Commanding Officer Captain W W P Shirley-Tolliaon, RN.


October                  Harbour Acceptance trials and storing.


November              Embarked SWORDFISH aircraft and personnel.

                12th        Commenced Sea Trials including Deck landings. off San Francisco.



                9th          Took passage from San Francisco to Norfolk Va.

                                Carried out flying trials with four SWORDFISH aircraft of 838 Squadron whilst on


                22nd       Transit of Panama Canal.


1 9 4 3


January                  Arrived at Norfolk, Va after calls at Curacoa and Jamaica during passage.

to                            Work-up in continuation off Norfolk.

February                Passage to Jamaica


March                    Embarked four SWORDFISH aircraft and personnel of 840 Squadron.

                                Took passage to UK with Convoy CV1 from Jamaica.

                                Provided air cover for convoy during passage.

                                (Note:  Convoy Identity to be confirmed



                2nd         Detached from convoy on arrival in Clyde and took passage to Liverpool.

                10th        Taken in hand for modifications to suit RN use.

                                (Note: This work included:

                                Fitting British 4in gun in place of US 5in mounting.

                                Modification of petrol distribution system. as carried out in all US built

                                CVE after the loss of HMS DASHER following an explosion in 1943.)


 May                       Refit and modification at Liverpool in continuation.


June                        Post refit trials.

                15th        Deployed in Clyde area for aircraft trials and exercises.

                                886 Squadron and 879 Squadron SEAFIRE aircraft and personnel embarked.


July                         Clyde deployment in continuation.

                                Nominated for service to Mediterranean.

                                (Note: British Type 79B radar for aircraft warning and Type 272 for warning of

                                surface targets were fitted during this period.)



                3rd          Took passage to Mediterranean with HM Escort Aircraft Carrier STALKER.

                10th        Deployed in Mediterranean.

                                Allocated for duty with Force V, Support Carrier Task Force during the planned

                                landings on Italian mainland at Salerno (Operation AVALANCHE)


September             SEAFIRE aircraft and personnel of 886 Squadron were also embarked.

                5th          Arrived at Malta for AVALANCHE deployment.

                                Joined HM Escort Aircraft Carriers BATTLER, HUNTER, STALKER in Task Force 88.

                                (Note: Other ships in TF88 were HM Cruisers EURYALUS, SCYLLA and CHARYBDIS

                                with HM Destroyers CLEVELAND, HOLCOMBE, ATHERSTONE, LIDDESDALE,

                                FARNDALE, CALPE Polish destroyers ORP SLAZAK and ORP KRAKOWIAK.)

                8th          Provided sir cover during passage of assault convoy from Malta

                9th          Provided air cover during assault landings at Salerno.

                                52 sorties flown

                                (Note: HMS ULSTER QUEEN, converted for use as a Fighter Direction Ship was used for

                                control of aircraft during the landings.

                10th        Retained off Beach Head instead of planned withdrawal due to delay in provision of airfield


                                46 sorties flown.

                                (Note: Enemy air attacks on the anchorage include use of radio controlled bombs for the first

                                time in the Mediterranean theatre. See above references.)

                11th        Deployed off Beach Head.

                                24 sorties flown.

                12th        Support of shore operations in continuation

                                10 sorties Flown including one in which enemy aircraft was engaged and possibly


                13th        Released from AVALANCHE and took passage to Palermo with Force V.

                                (Note: High accident rate during landings reduced number of aircraft available for transfer

                                to shore airfield.)

                                For details see ENGAGE THE ENEMY MORE CLOSELY by C Barnett and the Naval

                                Staff History.)

                16th        Took passage to Gibraltar when Force V was disbanded.

                30th        Part of escort from Gibraltar for military convoy MKF24 and provided air cover during passage

                                to UK.


October                  Nominated for further conversion for use as an Assault Carrier.

                7th          Detached from MKF24 on arrival in Clyde and took passage to Rosyth for refit.

                                (Note: Ship was required for future landing operations.)

                                Squadron aircraft and personnel disembarked.

                10th        Taken in hand for refit by HM Dockyard.

                                (Note: Improved facilities were provided in Operations Room for the command and control during

                                assault operations. See RADAR AT SEA by D Howse.)


November              On completion of post refit trials took passage from) Rosyth to Clyde.


December              Deployed in Clyde area for work-up and flying exercises.


1 9 4 4


January                  Clyde deployment in continuation.

                22nd       Sustained no damage when HM Escort Aircraft Carrier CHASER dragged her anchor in Clyde

                                during gale and collided with ship.

                24th        Sustained damage when HM Escort Aircraft Carrier FENCER dragged anchor in Clyde

                                during gale conditions and collided with ship.


February                Repair arranged in Liverpool shipyard and disembarked aircraft.

                9th          Taken in hand for repair in Alexandra Dock.


March                    Under repair.

                16th        On completion of repair resumed training exercises in Clyde and re-embarked the aircraft of

                                879 Squadron.

                                (Note: 886 Squadron had been allocated for support of landings in Normandy.)

                31st         At Belfast for Leave Period.



                17th        Clyde training deployment in continuation.

                                Nominated for service with Home Fleet with HMS HUNTER and HMS STALKER in support

                                of attack on Norwegian coast shipping.

                30th        Sailed to join Home Fleet at Scapa Flow for Operation HOOPS.

                                (Note: HMS STALKER and HMS HUNTER were also to take part in this planned attacks on

                                Norwegian coast shipping which was cancelled )


May                        Deployment with Home Fleet changed and transferred to Mediterranean.

                14th        Sailed from Liverpool as part of escort for Convoys OS177/KMS51 and provided air cover

                                during passage of convoy to Gibraltar.

                                Deployed in Mediterranean for defence of convoys in western Mediterranean.


June                        Convoy defence deployment in continuation.


July                         Nominated for support of allied landings in south France {Operation DRAGOON)

                                Aircraft disembarked during Self Maintenance Period at Algiers.

                                (See INVASION OF THE SOUTH OF FRANCE (HMSO).)

                                On completion re-embarked Squadron and took passage to Malta to join Carrier Force TF88.1).

                                (Note: TF88 also included HM Escort Aircraft Carriers EMPEROR, KHEDIVE,

                                SEARCHER, PURSUER, HM Cruisers ROYALIST, DELHI screened by five RN

                                destroyers and one Greek destroyer)

August                  Carried out exercises off Malta prior to landings in South France

                                (Note: Task Group 88.1 was to provide fighter Protection, spotting aircraft and close support

                                during landings.. See above reference.)

                15th        Arrived in Assault area and commenced flying operations.

                                (Note: Sailing delayed for two hours by steering defect.)

                                Deployed in position south of Beach Head and carried out air attacks and duties as required by

                                Air Task Force Commander.

                                (Note: Loss of four aircraft during deck landings to be confirmed..)

                                Retired to south of area after nightfall.

                16th        DRAGOON Support in continuation.

                to            Sorties included strike against coastal defences, bombardment spotting for HM Cruiser

                18th        AURORA and reconnaissance missions. See above reference.

                19th        Took passage with TF88.1 to Maddalena to refuel and rearm

                22nd       Resumed flying operations off Beach Head with ships of TF88.1 in position south of Marseilles.

                                Carried out air strikes as required.

                24th        Returned to Maddalena with ships of TF88.1

                28th        Released from DRAGOON and returned to RN control by CinC Mediterranean.

                                Took passage to Alexandria.

                                {Note: Sailing from Maddalena was delayed by 24 hours due to generator defect.)

                30th        Joined British Aegean Force for support of operations to occupy islands in Eastern Mediterranean.



                2nd         Arrived at Alexandria.

                14th        Sailed from Alexandria to relieve HMS HUNTER deployed for air attacks on Crete

                                and Rhodes. (Operation OUTING).

                15th        Joined HM Escort Carriers PURSUER, EMPEROR, SEARCHER and KHEDIVE deployed as

                                Force A.

                16th        Carried out air strikes and reconnaissance flights

                19th        Carried out dive-bombing of shipping in harbour at Rhodes,

                20th        On completion of OUTING returned to Alexandria for replenishment.

                                (Note: 400 sorties were made during attacks on transport and shipping in Rhodes.)

                27th        Deployed in Aegean for attacks on shipping (Operation OUTING II.)





                1st           OUTING II deployment in continuation

                to            (Note: 102 Sorties flown included strikes on shore positions, bombardment spotting for

                4th          HM Cruiser ROYALIST and tactical reconnaissance.)

                5th          Returned to Alexandria to replenish

                                Nominated for support of British landings in Aegean and Greece (Operation MANNA)

                13th        Sailed With HMS STALKER, HMS EMPEROR, HMS ROYALIST and two destroyers for

                                Aegean operations.

                18th        Returned to Alexandria.

                23rd        Carrier out air strikes on shore targets



                26th        Deployed for support of landings on Mitylene

                29th        Deployed for support of landings on Piskopi.

                                Released from support of military operations in eastern Mediterranean.

                                (For details see Military History of Mediterranean operations.)

                30th        Returned to Alexandria.

                31st         Took passage with HMS HUNTER and HMS STALKER to return to UK.



                9th          Arrived at Plymouth to give leave prior to service in Eastern Fleet.

                10th        Under repair by HM Dockyard Devonport.

                29th        Took passage from Plymouth to Taranto for refit.


December              Passage in Mediterranean

                6tb          Taken in hand for refit at Taranto.

                                (Note: Squadron personnel were landed and took passage to Egypt in the Italian cruiser

                                DUCA D’AOSTA.)


1 9 4 5


January                  Under refit

to                            Nominated for service in 21st Aircraft Carrier Squadron in Ceylon.




                1st           On completion of post refit trials took passage to Ceylon to join Eastern Fleet.

                                Embarked 879 Squadron aircraft


May                        Arrived at Colombo.

                                (Note: Ship not available for participation in re-occupation of Rangoon.

                                Operation DRACULA)

                                Not available for operational service due to defects and redeployed.

                                879 Squadron aircraft landed for service at Katukurinda.

                                Deployed with HMS HUNTER for the transport of FAA and RAF aircraft from Indian

                                and South African ports to Ceylon.


June                        Aircraft transport duties in continuation.


July                         Required for Fleet service with Squadron.

                                Passage to Trincomalee


August                  Prepared for support of attack on Penang.

                8th          Took passage with Squadron in Malacca Straits.

                11th        Operation cancelled and returned to Trincomalee.

                                (Note: For details of the complex factors affecting British operations and the

                                delay in execution of landings in Malaya (Operation ZIPPER) See REPORT

                                BY SEAC TO CHIEFS OF STAFF (HMSO), THE FORGOTTEN FLEET by J Winton,)

                                and WAR WITH JAPAN (HMSO)

                14th        Returned to Trincomalee and nominated for support of re-occupation of Penang.

                                (Operation JURIST).

                15th        Sailed with HM Battleship NELSON, HM Cruiser CEYLON, HMS HUNTER and a destroyer

                16th        Operation JURIST (delayed by Supreme Commander (General MacArthur)

                                See above references..

                                Anchored off Nicobars.

                                Operation JURIST recommenced and took passage to Penang with HMS NELSON, HMS

                                CEYLON, three destroyers and two Landing Ships (Infantry) PRINSES BEATRIX

                26th        At Penang for final surrender which was signed on board HMS NELSON.



                2nd         Took passage from Penang for Singapore.

                3rd          Landed Royal marines.

                4th          Passage to Singapore and anchored off-shore over night.

                                (Note: Diversion to Sabang for re-occupation to be confirmed

                                See BRITISH INVASION FLEETS by J de Winser.)

                5th          Entered Singapore.

                11th        Took part in ceremonial entry into Singapore with Fleet units prior to formal surrender.

                14th        Released from Malayan operations and took passage to Trincomalee.

                19th        Arrived at Trincomalee.


P o s t   W a r   N o t e s


HMS ATTACKER was released from East Indies Fleet service and took passage to UK on 11th Oct with calls at Bombay and Malta arriving in Clyde on 11th December 1945. After Squadron aircraft were disembarked ship Paid-off and majority of ships company left ship which was taken in hand for minor repair in Clyde shipyard.. and embarked aircraft for return to USA. She then collected US troops at Southampton for passage to Norfolk, Va on 9th December arriving on 24th December. On 5th January 1946 the ship was formally returned to the US Navy. and later sold for use as a mercantile/ She traded as ss CASTEL FORTE until 1957 when renamed ss  FAIRSKY for passenger freight use. In June 1977 she was damaged when hitting a wreck off Djakarta and had to be beached. Following repair in 1978 she was briefly used again as a Casino and later again used as a mercantile  named ss PHILIPPINE  TOURIST). In 1979 this ship was seriously damaged by a fire in 1979 and sold in 1980 for breaking-up at Hong Kong.







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








CU 001





MKF 024





OS 077KM





KMS 052





NSF 025





SNF 025





MKF 032








(Note on Convoys)



back to Contents List
or Naval-History.Net

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