HMS Fencer (D64)
|Laid down:||5 September 1941|
|Launched:||4 April 1942|
|Commissioned:||20 February 1943 and immediately transferred under lend lease to the Royal Navy|
|Commissioned:||20 February 1943|
|Decommissioned:||21 December 1945|
|Struck:||28 January 1947|
|Fate:||Sold as a merchant ship; scrapped 1975|
|Class and type:|
|Length:||491 ft 6 in (149.81 m)|
|Beam:||105 ft (32 m)|
|Draught:||26 ft (7.9 m)|
|Propulsion:||Steam turbines, 1 shaft, 8,500 shp (6.3 MW)|
|Speed:||18 knots (33 km/h)|
|Complement:||646 officers and enlisted|
|Aircraft carried:||20 aircraft|
|Part of:||British Pacific Fleet (1944-45)|
She was commissioned by the United States Navy as USS Croatan (CVE-14) (originally AVG-14 then ACV-14), a Bogue-class escort carrier, but was transferred on 20 February 1943 under the Lend-Lease program to the United Kingdom and commissioned by the Royal Navy as HMS Fencer the same day.
As an anti-submarine warfare carrier, Fencer escorted Atlantic, Russian and African convoys, even participating in a strike on the German battleship Tirpitz before being transferred to the Pacific. Following World War II, she returned to the United States 21 December 1946, stricken for disposal on 28 January 1947 and sold into merchant service 30 December as Sydney.
The ship went through a series of renamings, first to Roma in 1967, then Galaxy Queen in 1970, Lady Dina in 1972 and finally Caribia in 1973 before being scrapped in Spezia in September 1975.
Design and description
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.
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.
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. 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).
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, 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. 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. They had the capacity for up to eighteen aircraft which could be a mixture of Grumman Martlet, Hawker Sea Hurricane, Vought F4U Corsair fighter aircraft and Fairey Swordfish or Grumman Avenger anti-submarine aircraft.
- Cocker (2008), p.79.
- Poolman (1972), pp.74–75.
- Cocker (2008), p.80.
- Cocker (2008), pp.80–81.
- Poolman (1972), p.57.
- Cocker, Maurice (2008). Aircraft-Carrying Ships of the Royal Navy. Stroud, Gloucestershire: The History Press. ISBN 978-0-7524-4633-2.
- Poolman, Kenneth (1972). Escort Carrier 1941–1945. London: Ian Allen. ISBN 0-7110-0273-8.
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