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

HMS HUNTER (ii) (D 80) - Attacker-class Escort Aircraft Carrier

HMS Tracker (Navy Photos, click to enlarge) return to Contents List 

ATTACKER-Class  Escort Aircraft Carrier obtained inter US/UK Land Lease Agreement.  The ship was under construction at Pascagoula, Mississippi by Ingalls and had bean laid down on 15th May 1941 For mercantile use as ss MORMACPENN. She was launched on 22 May 1942 after being  requisitioned by the US Navy on 26th December 1941 for conversion as an auxiliary aircraft carrier (CVE) to be named USS BLOCK ISLAND. She was later selected, with 9 others of  this Class, for transfer to the RN and intended to be given the name HMS TRAILER. Design changes made, based on the experience gained during build of the earlier  ARCHER Class, included a larger hangar. Propulsion machinery consisted of two steam  turbines driving a single shaft as compared with Diesel engines used for previous conversions. The intended name was changed in November 1942 and she was commissioned as HMS HUNTER (ii) when handed over to the Royal Navy on 9th January 1943, two days before build completion date. She was the 18th RN warship to carry this name, introduced for  a  captured vessel in 1646 and last used in 1936 for a destroyer lost during the Battle of Narvik on 10th April 1940. British radar was fitted during build.


B a t t l e    H o n o u r s

GABBARD  1653  - SCHEVENINGEN  1653 - BARFLEUR  1692 - VIGO 1702 - VELEZ MALAGA  1704  - LOUISBERG  1758 - QUEBEC 1759 - NARVIK 1940 - ATLANTIC  1939-40 - SALERNO 1943* - ATLANTIC 1943-44*  - SOUTH FRANCE 1944* - AEGEAN 1944* - BURMA 1945*

(* Awarded  to  HMS HUNTER (ii))

H e r a l d i c   D a t a

Badge: On a Field Green, a Crossbow gold between two arrows Silver.


M o t t o

'Follow on'



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


January                  Contractors trials,

                9th          Commissioned and transferred to Royal Navy as HMS HUNTER.

                11th        Build completion and acceptance trials

                31st         Carried out post-build trials in West Indies)


February                Post Build trials and shakedown in West Indies continued.


March                    Passage to Norfolk Va.

                5th          Joined US Convoy UGF6 from Norfolk for passage to Casablanca.

                                Detached from UGF6 and took passage to Clyde

                                Nominated for refit in Dundee commercial shipyard.


April                       Passage from Clyde to Dundee.

                12th        On arrival at Dundee taken in hand for modifications to suit RN use.


May                        Under refit for modifications to suit RN use including petrol supply system.




August                  On completion of modifications worked-up for operational service.

                Allocated for service in Western Approaches Command for Atlantic convoy defence.

                Nominated for service in support of planned allied landings on Italian mainland

                and prepared for foreign service (Operation AVALANCHE).

                834 Squadron SWORDFISH aircraft and personnel embarked.

                (Note: During passage in heavy weather several aircraft were badly damaged another

                aircraft broke loose.

                Ship returned to Clyde to embark replacement aircraft and took passage again to


                899 Squadron SEAFIRE aircraft embarked.

                17th        Part of escort for joint military convoy KMF22/WS33 from Clyde with.

                HM Cruiser SHROPSHIRE, HM Destroyer WRESTLER, HM Sloops CHANTICLEER,

                NARBADA (RIN), WESTON, HM Cutter TOTLAND, HM Frigates BARLE, ETTRICK

                and USK.

                Cover for Atlantic passage was provided by HM Cruiser CHARYBDIS in Bay

                of Biscay between 20th and 22nd August.

                On arrival at Gibraltar took passage to join Force V (Carrier Task Force).



                5th          Joined Force V (Designated Force 88 for AVALANCHE) and took part in exercises in

                preparation for landings at Salerno)

                (Force V comprised HM Cruisers EURYALUS, CHARYBDIS and SCYLLA, HM Light

                Fleet Carrier UNICORN, HM Escort Aircraft Carriers BATTLER, ATTACKER and


                FARNDALE, CALPE, HAYDON, Polish destroyers ORP SLAZAK and ORP KRAKOWIAK

                deployed as screen).

                6th          Deployed at Malta with Force V.

                8th          Provided air cover during passage of assault convoys to Salerno.

                (Operation AVALANCHE. For details see ENGAGE THE ENEMY MORE CLOSELY by

                C. Barnett, Naval Staff History. and BRITISH INVASION FLEETS by J de Winser.).

                9th          Deployed off Salerno during assault landings for gunnery observation and defence of the

                anchorage against air attacks.

                (Note: During this operation air attacks using radio controlled bombs were used for the

                first time in the Mediterranean. See above references.)

                12th        Five SEAFIRE aircraft were landed at Paesrum when shore airfield was available.

                14th        After release from AVALANCHE Force V disbanded.

                Took passage to UK with call at Gibraltar.

                Repair arranged at Dundee.

                30th        Arrived at Dundee.


October                  Under repair





                3rd          Sustained damage during undocking at Dundee.

                Repair arranged in Clyde shipyard.

                Atlantic convoy defence in continuation.

                Nominated for further refit to improve facilities for use as an Assault carrier.

                (For details of improvements to Command and Control facilities see RADAR AT SEA

                by D Howse.)


1 9 4 4


January                  Under refit and on completion deployed in Western Approaches to work-up and for

to                            further service in Mediterranean.



April                       Took part in preparatory exercises in NW Approaches prior to planned landings in

                the South of France (Operation ANVIL).

                Embarked 807 Squadron SEAFIRE aircraft and personnel.


May                        Deployed at Scapa Flow for planned operation HOOPS

                (Note: HMS ATTACKER and HMS HUNTER were also to take part in this attack

                on Norwegian coast shipping which was cancelled )

                Passage to Mediterranean for convoy defence. 807 squadron aircraft carried.

                (Note: RN ships taking part in Operation DRAGOON were under overall command of

                Vice Admiral HK Hewitt, US Navy. See INVASION OF THE SOUTH OF



June                        Convoy defence for military convoys during passage to assembly ports continued.


July                         Joined Carrier Task Force ships in Malta for preparatory exercises.

                Allocated for service in Task Group 88.2 with HMS STALKER to provide air cover

                and gunfire spotting during landings.

                (Note: Other ships in TG88.2 included:

                US aircraft carriers USS TULAGI and KASAN BAY, HM Cruisers CALEDON

                and COLOMBO with screen of six US Navy destroyers.

                27th        Codename for landings changed to Operation DRAGOON.


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

                                (See ENGAGE THE ENEMY MORE CLOSELY and above reference.)

                15th        Arrived in Assault area south of beaches and carried out patrols flying operation*.

                to            Deployed in position south of beaches and carried out patrols, gunfire spotting,

                27th        shore attacks and other duties as required by Air Task Force Commander.

                (Note: Carriers retired to south of beach heads overnight and went to Maddalena

                to replenish. See INVASION OF THE SOUTH OF FRANCE (HMSO) and ENGAGE

                THE ENEMY MORE CLOSELY by C Barnett.)

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

                30th        Joined British Aegean Force for support of operations to occupy islands in East

                (Note: Other ships in British Aegean Force included HM Escort Aircraft



                and COLOMBO with destroyers of 24th Flotilla and HUNT Class Escort Destroyers.

                See WINE DARK SEA by Lew Lind.)



                9th          Deployed with same CVE for attacks on air defences and ships evacuating German forces from Crete,

                                Scarpanto and Rhodes (Operation OUTING I).

                15th        Returned to Alexandria to replenish

                30th        Sailed from Alexandria to resume Aegean operations (Operation OUTING II)



                5th          Aircraft provided observation for bombardment of Levitha by HM Cruiser AURORA.

                7th          Aircraft attacked evacuation shipping.

                9th          Aircraft attacks made on Cos and evacuation ships.

                11th        Relieved by HMS ATTACKER and returned to Alexandria.

                31st         Released from Mediterranean Fleet deployment and took passage to UK with HMS

                                ATTACKER and STALKER.



                11th        Arrived in UK

                Nominated for refit prior to transfer to East Indies Fleet based in Ceylon

                Passage to Malta



                6th          Under refit.


1 9 4 5


January                  On completion of refit work carried out post refit trials.



                21st         Took passage to Ceylon.



                8th          Joined 21st Aircraft Carrier Squadron, East Indies Fleet at Trincomalee

                (Note: Other ships in Squadron were:

                HM Cruiser ROYALIST (Flag), HM Escort Aircraft Carriers STALKER, KHEDIVE

                Nominated for support of landings at Rangoon (Operation DRACULA).

                (See OPERATION PACIFIC by E Gray, THE FORGOTTEN FLEET, by J.Winton and

                Naval Staff History. but this latter reference does not include HMS HUNTER as taking part.)


April                       Deployed at Trincomalee and prepared for service with Squadron.

                23rd        Squadron sailed from Trincomalee with ships of Squadron and HM Cruiser PHOEBE to Akyab

                to provide air cover during passage of assault convoys to Rangoon.

                (Note: Screened by HM Destroyers SAUMAREZ, VIGILANT, VENUS and VIRAGO.

                30th        Squadron provided air cover during passage of assault convoys until 4th May.


May                       Squadron Experience poor weather conditions during covering operations.

                2nd         Assault landings covered by aircraft from Squadron commenced.

                4th          Squadron released from DRACULA.

                6th          Squadron carried out air attacks on targets between Mergui and Victoria Point.

                7th          On completion of air strikes Squadron took passage to Trincomalee.

                9th          Squadron returned to Trincomalee with East Indies Fleet ships.

                10th        Deployed with HM Battleship QUEEN ELIZABETH, French battleship RICHELIEU, ships

                of 21st Squadron, HM Cruisers ROYALIST and CUMBERLAND, Dutch Cruiser TROMP and

                screen of eight destroyers from Trincomalee as Force 61.

                (Operation DUKEDOM to intercept and destroy enemy ships evacuating Andamans and

                Nicobar Islands.)

                13th        Provided fuel for escorting destroyers.

                14th        Detached from Force 61 with HMS CUMBERLAND and destroyers of 26th Flotilla.

                Carried out search for Japanese ships (Operation MITRE).

                15th        Aircraft took part in search operations for Japanese evacuation ships.

                (Note: Enemy ships sighted by an AVENGER aircraft of 351 Squadron which carried

                out an attack and was shot down. These were KUROSHIO with SC57 as escort

                on passage from Nancowry to Malaya. Search for crew failed and they were taken

                prisoner after drifting on to coast of Burma.

                Another AVENGER aircraft of 851 Squadron also operating from HMS EMPEROR sighted

                the Japanese cruiser HAGURO and destroyer KAMIKAZE. A subsequent attack by three

                AVENGER aircraft from HMS EMPEROR caused no major damage. HAGURO then

                altered course to east. For details see Naval Staff History.)

                HAGURA was sunk in outstanding night destroyer attack by 26th Destroyer Flotilla.

                (For full details of the search operations and sinking of HAGURO see references

                above and SINK THE HAGURO by J Winton.)

                16th        Carried out air attacks on Andaman Island with HMS KHEDIVE.

                17th        Passage to Trincomalee with Squadron.


June                        Deployed with HM Escort Carrier ATTACKER for transport of aircraft from India to

to                            Ceylon for use during future operations.

July                         Nominated for support of landings in Malaya (Operation ZIPPER)

                Prepared for support of landings.

                (Note: These landings were delayed by the need to implement policy relating to

                return of military personnel from Far East under the PYTHON Scheme.

                Revised date for ZIPPER became 9th September

                See above references and BRITISH INVASION FLEETS by J de Winser,)



                15th        Sailed from Trincomalee with East Indies Fleet to implement ZIPPER.

                Fleet commanded by Admiral Walker, 3rd Battle Squadron in HM Battleship NELSON.

                (Operation JURIST - Setting up of advanced base at Penang.)

                16th        JURIST delayed for 48 hours at US insistence.

                19th        JURIST again delayed until after signing of surrender in Tokyo.

                28th        East Indies ships arrived off Penang.



                1st           Present at formal surrender at Penang on board HM Battleship NELSON.

                4th          Passage to Singapore with occupation ships

                9th          Provided air cover during landings near Port Swettenham with the other carriers

                of Squadron.

                (Note: Ships deployed during occupation included HMS ROYALIST, HM Escort Carriers


                and the French battleship RICHELIEU,


                INVASION FLEETS.)

                10th        Deployed at Singapore for re-occupation.


P o s t  W a r  N o t e s


HMS HUNTER returned to UK after formal surrender at Singapore and took passage  to UK. This ship was de-stored and British Equipment was landed in Clyde during November. She return to the US after call at Portsmouth in early December and was handed back to the US Navy on 29th  December 1945. Later the ship was sold for use as a mercantile and renamed ALMDIJK. She remained in commercial use until 1973 when sold for breaking up in Spain at Valencia. This name was carried forward in 1983 when given to a Patrol craft which was was deployed for training Reserve personnel in London. 


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