HMS Ameer (D01)
|Builder:||Seattle-Tacoma Shipbuilding Corporation|
|Laid down:||18 July 1942|
|Launched:||18 October 1942|
|Fate:||Transferred to Royal Navy|
|Commissioned:||20 July 1943|
|Decommissioned:||20 March 1946|
|Fate:||Sold as a merchant ship; scrapped 1969|
|Class and type:|
|Length:||495 ft 7 in (151.05 m)|
|Beam:||69 ft 6 in (21.18 m)|
|Draught:||26 ft (7.9 m)|
|Propulsion:||Steam turbines, 1 shaft, 8,500 shp (6.3 MW)|
|Speed:||17 knots (31 km/h)|
|Complement:||890 officers and enlisted|
|Armament:||2 × 4"/50, 5"/38 or 5"/51 guns|
|Part of:||Eastern Fleet|
The escort carrier USS Baffins (CVE-35) (originally AVG-35, then later ACV-35) was launched 18 October 1942 by Seattle-Tacoma Shipbuilding, Tacoma, Washington; sponsored by Mrs. Laurence Bennett, wife of Commander Bennett; and commissioned 28 June 1943, Captain W. L. Rees in command. She was named after Baffin Bay in southern Texas.
Design and description
These ships were all larger and had a greater aircraft capacity than all the preceding American built escort carriers. They were also all laid down as escort carriers and not converted merchant ships. All the ships had a complement of 646 men and an overall length of 492 feet 3 inches (150.0 m), a beam of 69 feet 6 inches (21.2 m) and a draught of 25 ft 6 in (7.8 m). Propulsion was provided by a steam turbine, two boilers connected to one shaft giving 9,350 brake horsepower (SHP), which could propel the ship at 16.5 knots (30.6 km/h; 19.0 mph).
Aircraft facilities were a small combined bridge–flight control on the starboard side, two aircraft lifts 43 feet (13.1 m) by 34 feet (10.4 m), one aircraft catapult and nine arrestor wires. Aircraft could be housed in the 260 feet (79.2 m) by 62 feet (18.9 m) hangar below the flight deck. Armament comprised: two 4"/50, 5"/38 or 5"/51 Dual Purpose guns in single mounts, sixteen 40 mm Bofors anti-aircraft guns in twin mounts and twenty 20 mm Oerlikon anti-aircraft cannons in single mounts. They had a maximum aircraft capacity of twenty-four aircraft which could be a mixture of Grumman Martlet, Vought Corsair or Hawker Sea Hurricane fighter aircraft and Fairey Swordfish or Grumman Avenger anti-submarine aircraft.
Baffins remained at Puget Sound Navy Yard until 18 July 1943. Her classification was changed to CVE-35 on 15 July 1943. On the 18th, she proceeded to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, where she was decommissioned the following day and transferred to the United Kingdom under Lend-Lease.
Now HMS Ameer, she was refitted to Royal Navy requirements, including a lengthened flight deck, the installation of ASDIC (Sonar), the adaptation of fire-fighting and ventilation systems, and the alteration of bomb and torpedo storage to accommodate either American or British ordnance.
Once she arrived in Britain, she was allocated to the British Eastern Fleet, sailing as escort in May 1944 to convoy KMF-31 to the Mediterranean, while en route to Trincomalee, Ceylon. There, she joined her sister ships HMS Battler, HMS Begum, and HMS Shah.
In early 1945, Ameer joined Force 61 as cover for "Operation Lightning", the amphibious assault by 3 Commando Brigade (two Royal Marine units and one Army unit) on Akyab, Burma. In the event, Japanese forces had evacuated that key area 48 hours earlier, making a heavy bombardment unnecessary.
Ameer's next operation was Operation Matador to capture Ramree Island, where her aircraft spotted fall of shot for HMS Queen Elizabeth, on 21 January 1945. The bombardment was to reduce Japanese artillery batteries in advance of landings by the 71st and 4th Brigades. A few days later, Ameer covered landings on nearby Cheduba Island by the Royal Marines (Operation Sankey) that were, once again, unopposed; indeed, the whole island was unoccupied.
On 22 February 1945, Ameer sailed from Trincomalee, in Force 62 with HMS Empress, the light cruiser HMS Kenya, six destroyers and six frigates. The objective was to perform Operation Stacey, the first of three photo-reconnaissance missions designed to cover the Hastings Harbor and Phuket Island areas of the Kra Isthmus. The reconnaissance was done successfully without enemy interference on 26 to 28 February. The following day, however, the task force was located and attacked. Hellcat fighters from Ameer and Empress successfully fought off the attack.
In June, 1945, Force 63, including Ameer and her sister ships HMS Khedive, and HMS Stalker, left Trincomalee for Operation Balsam, the third and last series of photo-reconnaissance missions over Malaya. On 20 June, at the end of the scheduled operation, the task force pilots executed offensive sweeps. Ameer’s Grumman Hellcats joined those from 808 Squadron and Supermarine Seafires from 809 Squadron and attacked Japanese air bases at Lhoksemawe, Medan, and Bindjai, strafing installations and aircraft. Antiaircraft fire shot down one Hellcat.
Ameer's last two operations were supporting mine-sweeping activity off potential landing sites. The first, with escort carrier HMS Emperor, light cruiser HMS Nigeria and destroyers HMS Roebuck, HMS Eskimo, and HMS Vigilant, provided air cover and bombardment off the Nicobar Islands over 9 and 10 July. The second, Operation Livery, starting on 24 July, cleared the approaches to Phuket Island, off the Kra Isthmus. HMS Nelson was part of the covering force. On 25 July, Task Force 63 came under bomber and kamikaze attack and the minesweeper HMS Vestal was hit.
Japan surrendered three weeks later.
As a fighter carrier, HMS Ameer could carry up to 24 aircraft. In her active service, she carried mostly American Grumman Hellcat II (at first called Gannet) fighters, although Grumman Wildcat V (initially called Martlets) were also carried, as were Supermarine Walrus I amphibians at the end of the war. In detail:
|Dates||Fleet Air Arm squadrons||Aircraft type|
|July 1944-August 1944||845||Grumman Wildcat V|
|Dec 1944-March 1945||804||Grumman Hellcat II|
|Dec 1944||845||Grumman Wildcat V|
|April 1945-Sept 1945||896||Grumman Hellcat II|
|May 1945-Oct 1945||804||Grumman Hellcat II|
|June 1945||888||Grumman Hellcat II|
|July 1945-Aug 1945||1700 Dt||Supermarine Walrus I|
She was later scrapped in Taiwan in 1969.
- Cocker (2008), p.82.
- Cocker (2008), p.79.
- Cocker, Maurice (2008). Aircraft-Carrying Ships of the Royal Navy. Stroud, Gloucestershire: The History Press. ISBN 978-0-7524-4633-2.
- DANFS: Baffins
- Department of the Navy - Naval Historical Centre
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