USS Charger (CVE-30)

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For other ships of the same name, see USS Charger and HMS Charger.
USS Charger CVE-30
Career
Name: USS Charger
Builder: Sun Shipbuilding & Drydock Co., Chester, Pennsylvania
Laid down: 19 January 1940
Launched: 1 March 1941
Acquired: 4 October 1941
Commissioned: 3 March 1942
Decommissioned: 15 March 1946
Reclassified: AVG-30, 24 January 1942
ACV-30, 20 August 1942
CVE-30, 15 July 1943
Fate: Sold into merchant service, 30 January 1947
Sold for scrap, 1969
General characteristics
Class & type: Charger-class escort carrier
Displacement: 8,000 long tons (8,128 t)
Length: 492 ft (150 m)
Beam: 69 ft 6 in (21.18 m)
111 ft 2 in (33.88 m) extreme width
Draft: 26 ft 3 in (8.00 m)
Speed: 17 knots (31 km/h; 20 mph)
Complement: 856 officers and enlisted
Armament: • 1 × 5 in (130 mm) gun
• 2 × 3"/50 caliber guns
• 10 × 20 mm guns
Aircraft carried: 30+

USS Charger (CVE-30) (originally AVG-4, then AVG-30, then later ACV-30) was an escort carrier of the United States Navy during World War II.

Planned as the third of four C-P-3 cargo/passenger liners of the C3 design for the Moore-McCormack company, the ship was launched on 1 March 1941 by Sun Shipbuilding and Drydock Co., Chester, Pennsylvania; named Rio de la Plata, it was sponsored by Mrs. Felipe A. Espil (Courtney Letts de Espil). On 20 May 1941, the United States Maritime Commission requisitioned all four unfinished combiliners, for conversion to military use.

Career[edit]

United States Navy[edit]

The vessel was prepared for naval duties by the Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Co., Newport News, Virginia. Intended for transfer to the Royal Navy under Lend-Lease, the former Rio de la Plata was commissioned on 2 October 1941 as HMS Charger (D27), Captain George Abel-Smith RN in command. However, the transfer was rescinded and the ship returned to United States control on 4 October 1941. The vessel was reclassified AVG-30 on 24 January 1942 and commissioned as USS Charger on 3 March 1942, Captain T. L. Sprague USN in command; and reported to the Atlantic Fleet.

Listed by the United States Navy as the sole ship of the "Charger Type of 1942 (Class)", it actually had several sister ships in HMS Avenger, Biter, and Dasher, all with similar construction histories and transferred to the Royal Navy under Lend-Lease.

Charger '​s area of operations throughout the war was Chesapeake Bay, and her duty the basic task of training pilots and ships' crews in carrier operations. Men trained on her decks played an important role in the successful contest for the Atlantic with hostile submarines carried out by the escort carrier groups. Reclassified ACV-30 on 20 August 1942, and CVE-30 on 15 July 1943, Charger left Chesapeake Bay for two ferry voyages, one to Bermuda in October 1942, and one to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in September 1945.

Post-war service[edit]

USS Charger was decommissioned at New York on 15 March 1946. Sold into merchant service on 30 January 1947 to the Vlasov group, after conversion the vessel became the passenger liner Fairsea, nominally for Vlasov's Italian managed Sitmar Line. Successive accommodation upgrades secured the vessel's long-term employment, mainly as a migrant carrier from Europe to Australia. The ship was disabled by an engine-room fire between Tahiti and Panama on 29 January 1969, and primarily due to a lack of spare parts, was sold for scrap in Italy in 1969. Fairsea '​s last surviving former sister Biter, (later the French Navy's Dixmude), had been returned to the United States and sunk as a target in 1966.

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