Throughout the RFA’s history, the fleet has been given some odd and unusual tasks to perform, some odder than others.  In 1947, with the Second World War not long over, the RFA were seriously considered for the operation of an Aircraft Carrier, well it is unusual!

Throughout the RFA’s history, the fleet has been given some odd and unusual tasks to perform, some odder than others.  In 1947, with the Second World War not long over, the RFA were seriously considered for the operation of an Aircraft Carrier, well it is unusual!

 

The ship in question was the Escort Carrier HMS Campania, which was in reserve at the time and serious consideration was given in 1947 to bringing her out of reserve, manning her with an RFA crew and using the ship as a ferry-carrier, unfortunately the idea was quickly discarded.

 

 

HMS Campania


HMS Campania started her life in 1941 at the shipyard of Harland and Wolff as one of a pair of passenger cargo ships for the Shaw Savill line.  The ship was requisitioned on the 27th July 1942 for conversion to a Royal Navy Escort Carrier; the ship was launched in June 1943 and was commissioned into the Royal Navy as HMS Campania on the 9th February 1944.

Campania was the last of the five British mercantile conversions to be completed and as such the ship had a few extras not found on other escort carriers, such as Type 277 radar and an Action Information Organization suite.

HMS Campania operated throughout the rest of 1944 on Convoy escort work in the Atlantic and Arctic areas of operation, right up to the end of the war.  After the surrender of Germany the ship was deployed to the Baltic as an aircraft transport and then as a troop ship operating between the UK and Jamaica until December 1945.

The ship arrived back at Devonport on the 30th December 1945 after de-storing on the Clyde, and was reduced to reserve status.  During 1947, as I have mentioned, the ship was seriously considered for use as an RFA Ferry Carrier, but this idea was abandoned and the ship remained in reserve until 1951 and placed on loan as the Festival of Britain Exhibition ship, with a civilian crew.

 

HMS_Campania_at_the_Festival_of_Britain

Campania as Festival of Britain Exhibition ship

 

Campania was repainted white for the exhibition and with the addition of a skeleton mast and loads of bunting, was officially named as the sea travelling exhibition, to supplement the main exhibition in London.  The ship was then refitted at Birkenhead as the command ship for Operation Hurricane, the British Atomic Bomb Tests in the Pacific, on Monte Bello Island.

 

The ship left Portsmouth on the 2nd June 1952, heavily laden with deck cargo of two helicopters, scientific equipment for the test and eighty five scientists and arrived off Monte Bello Island on the 8th August.  The ship arrived back at Devonport in December 1952, de-stored and was immediately placed in reserve at Chatham.  Campania was placed on the disposal list in 1954 and subsequently sold to Hughes Bolckow for scrapping.  She arrived at their Blyth yard in November 1955

 

White_Ensign

RFA_Ensign_Old

Red_Ensign

Three ensigns, White, RFA (early) and Red Ensigns

 

 

Builder: Harland and Wolff, Belfast

Laid Down: 12th August 1941      Launched: 17th June 1943    Commissioned: 9th February 1944

Displacement: 13,000 tons GRT, 15,970 Tons full load

Length: 540 feet                           Beam: 70 feet                        Draught: 22.8 feet

Machinery: 2 x Diesel engines, 2 shafts

Speed: 18 Knots

Aircraft: 18

Armament: 2 x 4”, 16 x 2Pdr (4 x 4), 16 x 20 mm (8x2).

Pennant Number: D 48

Copyright © 2008 – 2017 Christopher J White

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