HMS Battler (D18)

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HMS Battler
HMS Battler D18.jpg
United States
Class and type: Bogue-class escort carrier
Name: Altamaha
Builder: Ingalls Shipbuilding
Laid down: 15 April 1941
Launched: 4 April 1942
Acquired: 31 October 1942
Decommissioned: 1946?
Fate: Transferred to RN 31 October 1942
United Kingdom
Class and type: Attacker-class escort carrier
Name: Battler
Acquired: 31 October 1942
Commissioned: 15 November 1942
Decommissioned: 12 February 1946
Struck: 28 March 1946
Honours and
Atlantic 1942-1945, Salerno 1943, Indian Ocean.
Fate: Returned to USN 12 February 1946
United States
Name: Battler
Acquired: 12 February 1946
Struck: 28 March 1946
Fate: Sold for scrap 14 May 1946
General characteristics
Class and type:
Displacement: 9,800 long tons (10,000 t) (standard)
Length: 496 ft (151 m)
Beam: 105 ft (32 m)
Draught: 26 ft (7.9 m)
Installed power: 8,500 shp (6,300 kW)
Speed: 18 knots (33 km/h; 21 mph)
Complement: 646, excluding air group
Aircraft carried: 20
Aviation facilities: 2 × elevators

HMS Battler (D18) was an Attacker-class escort aircraft carrier that served with the Royal Navy during the Second World War.

She was commissioned by the United States Navy as USS Altamaha (CVE-6), a Bogue-class escort carrier, and transferred under the Lend-Lease program to the United Kingdom and commissioned by the Royal Navy as HMS Battler the same day.


She was laid down on 15 April 1941 as a C3-S-A1, a second replacement freighter, Mormacmail for Moore-McCormack Lines, Inc, under Maritime Commission contract at Pascagoula, Mississippi, by Ingalls Shipbuilding, Hull 293. She was purchased and converted prior delivery and on 7 January 1942 she was named Altamaha but the name was cancelled on 17 March 1942. She was launched on 4 April 1942; sponsored by Mrs. Phillip Seymour, wife of Captain Seymour. She was redesignated ACV on 20 August 1942. Acquired by the United States Navy on 31 October 1942, she was immediately transferred (via the Lend-Lease programme) to the United Kingdom on the same day. She was renamed HMS Battler and commissioned into the Royal Navy on 15 November 1942.

Design and description[edit]

There were eight Attacker-class escort carriers in service with the Royal Navy during the Second World War. They were built between 1941 and 1942 by Ingalls Shipbuilding and Western Pipe & Steel shipyards in the United States, both building four ships each.[1]

The ships had a complement of 646 men and crew accommodation was different from the normal Royal Navy's arrangements. The separate messes no longer had to prepare their own food, as everything was cooked in the galley and served cafeteria style in a central dining area. They were also equipped with a modern laundry and a barber shop. The traditional hammocks were replaced by three tier bunk beds, eighteen to a cabin which were hinged and could be tied up to provide extra space when not in use.[2]

The ships dimensions were; an overall length of 492.25 feet (150.04 m), a beam of 69.5 feet (21.2 m) and a height of 23.25 ft (7.09 m). They had a displacement of 11,420 long tons (11,600 t) at deep load.[3] Propulsion was provided by four diesel engines connected to one shaft giving 8,500 brake horsepower (BHP), which could propel the ship at 17 knots (31 km/h; 20 mph).[4]

Aircraft facilities were a small combined bridge–flight control on the starboard side and above the 450 feet (140 m) x 120 feet (37 m) flight deck,[5] two aircraft lifts 42 feet (13 m) by 34 feet (10 m), and nine arrestor wires. Aircraft could be housed in the 260 feet (79 m) by 62 feet (19 m) hangar below the flight deck.[3] Armament comprised two 4"/50, 5"/38 or 5"/51 in single mounts, eight 40 mm anti-aircraft gun in twin mounts and twenty-one 20 mm anti-aircraft cannons in single or twin mounts.[3] They had the capacity for up to eighteen aircraft which could be a mixture of Grumman Martlet, Hawker Sea Hurricane, Vought Corsair fighter aircraft and Fairey Swordfish or Grumman Avenger anti-submarine aircraft.[3] In the Indian Ocean 1944, she carried 12 Swordfish plus 6 Seafire; later in 1944 the 6 Seafires were replaced by 6 Wildcats.

Service history[edit]

HMS Battler a Fairey Swordfish coming on via the aircraft lift.

Battler served in the Royal Navy from November 1942 until the end of World War II, serving for the most part as convoy escort in the North Atlantic and Indian Oceans. She travelled the globe extensively — USA, UK, Gibraltar, Malta, Salerno, Palermo, Suez, Aden, Cochin (India), Bombay, Sri Lanka, Mauritius, Madagascar, Seychelles, Maldives, Sydney and the Panama Canal.

In September 1943, Battler supported the allied invasion of Italy at Salerno. In March 1944, as part of force CS4, she helped to disrupt U-boat operations in the Indian Ocean when her aircraft guided destroyers onto the German supply ship Brake and two U-boats. Brake was destroyed by gunfire from destroyer Roebuck and one of the U-boats was damaged by Battler's aircraft.[6]

Battler was returned to the U.S. on 12 February 1946 and struck from the Naval Vessel Register on 28 March. She was sold on 14 May to the Patapsco Steel Scrap Co., Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and was subsequently scrapped.

FAA squadrons[edit]

Fleet Air Arm Squadrons stationed on HMS Battler, data from[7]
Squadron Dates Aircraft type
840 December 1942 Fairey Swordfish Mks.I/II
835 April 1943 – July 1943 Fairey Swordfish Mk.II
808 April 1943 - September 1943 Supermarine Seafire LF.IIc
807 August 1943 - October 1943 Supermarine Seafire LF.IIc
834 September 1943 - October 1944 Supermarine Seafire LF.IIc/Grumman Wildcat Mk.V


  1. ^ Cocker 2008, p. 79.
  2. ^ Poolman 1972, pp. 74–75.
  3. ^ a b c d Cocker 2008, p. 80.
  4. ^ Cocker 2008, pp. 80–81.
  5. ^ Poolman 1972, p. 57.
  6. ^ Jackson 2006, p. 285.
  7. ^ "HMS Battler". Fleet Air Arm Archive. 2000–2001. Retrieved 3 April 2011.
  • Cocker, Maurice (2008). Aircraft-Carrying Ships of the Royal Navy. Stroud, Gloucestershire: The History Press. ISBN 978-0-7524-4633-2.
  • Jackson, Ashley (2006). The British Empire and the Second World War. London: Hambledon Continuum. ISBN 1-85285-417-0.
  • Poolman, Kenneth (1972). Escort Carrier 1941–1945. London: Ian Allan. ISBN 0-7110-0273-8.

External links[edit]

  • "HMS Battler". Fleet Air Arm Archive. 23 February 2001. Retrieved 3 April 2011.
  • Burcher, Nick (27 August 2008). "HMS Battler". Nick Burcher. Retrieved 3 April 2011. Complete set of photos + 'HMS Battler Diary of Flying Operations' logged
  • Drury, Tony (July 2008). "A History of HMS Battler". Tony Drury. Retrieved 3 April 2011.
  • Mason, Geoffrey B. (15 October 2010). "HMS Battler (D18), Attacker-class Escort aircraft Carrier". Retrieved 3 April 2011.