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by Lt Cdr Geoffrey B Mason RN (Rtd) (c) 2003


HMS THESEUS - Colossus-class Light Fleet Aircraft Carrier

HMS Theseus (Navy Photos/Roy Cragg, click to enlarge)

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COLOSSUS-Class Light Fleet aircraft carrier ordered under an Emergency War Programme to be built by Fairfield at Govan, Glasgow. She was laid down on 6th January 1943 and launched on 6th July 1944. as the 3rd RN ship to carry this name,  introduced in 1786. It had last been used for a cruiser in 1892 which was sold in 1921. Build was completed on 9th January 1946.


B a t t l e   H o n o u r s

TENERIFE 1797 - NILE  1798 - ACRE  1799 - BASQUE  ROADS  1809 - BENIN  1897 - DARDANELLES 1915-16 - KOREA 1950-51

H e r a l d i c   D a t a 

Badge:  On a field Blue, a demi Minotaur  transfixed with a  sword proper.



M o t t o

'Action always'


This ship saw no service during WW2.



S u m m a r y   o f   P o s t   W a r   S e r v i c e


(for more ship information, go to Naval History Homepage and type name in Site Search



1 9 4 6


                                Contractors trials.

                                Accepted into RN service.

                                Work-up and embarked aircraft

                                Trials and work up for operational service.

                                Prepared for duty in Far East.

                                Passage to join Fleet at Singapore as Flagship for FO Air, Far East.


1 9 4 7


                                Deployed as Flagship, 1st Aircraft Carrier Squadron in British Pacific Fleet.

                                On return to UK refitted for service in Home Fleet.


1 9 4 8


                                On completion joined 3rd Aircraft Carrier Squadron, Home Fleet.

                                Deployed with Home Fleet.


1 9 4 9


                                Squadron Flagship duties in continuation.


1 9 5 0


                                Home Fleet service in continuation.

                                Carried out first carrier landings at night by jet aircraft (19 June).

                                Taken in hand for refit.

                                Nominated for service with United Nations naval units off Korea as relief for HM

                                Light Fleet Aircraft Carrier TRIUMPH.

                                Passage to Singapore after post-refit trials.

                                (Note:  Leads for gyro compass circuits were found to have been cut. but damage was repaired

                                without major delay to ship's deployment).

                                Deployed off Korea with UN in British Task Group.

                                Embarked helicopters from US Cruiser USS WORCESTER for mine destruction duties.

                                UN Deployment off east coast of Korea in support of shore operations.

                                (Notes: This was first occasion on which helicopters were flown from a British

                                warship in an operational role.

                                Air conditioning was not available in accommodation spaces).


1 9 5 1


                                United Nations duties in continuation.

                                Sikorski S51 Helicopter loaned by US Navy used for Plane-Guard duty instead of SEA OTTER

                                (Note:  Korean War experience of the value of a helicopter in this role saw the beginning of

                                operational use of Rotary Wing aircraft by the RN).

                                Air Group was awarded Annual Boyd Trophy as the most outstanding naval aviation.

                                unit. Over 2,500 landings had been made since entering service (January).

                                (Note:  Since October 1950 no aircraft had been unserviceable for more than two hours and 1,300

                                landings had been made without incident

                                Rocket. Assisted Take-off was used in periods of low wind speed.

                                Relieved in UN Task Group by HM Light Fleet Aircraft Carrier GLORY April).

                                On, relief took passage to UK to rejoin Home Fleet.

                                (Note: Transferred some aircraft and aircrew but retained some SEA FURY aircraft in case of

                                deployment in the Persian Gulf at Abadan during return).

                                Joined Home Fleet as Flagship 2nd Aircraft Carrier Squadron.


1 9 5 2


                                Home Fleet Flagship duties in continuation.

                                Detached to Mediterranean to relieve sister ship HMS GLORY for deployment east of Suez for

                                service with UN in Korea.

                                Took part in joint exercises in Mediterranean with Home Fleet ships.


1 9 5 3


                                Home Fleet Flagship service in continuation.

                                Detached for service in the Mediterranean to relieve HMS OCEAN for UN service (April)

.                               Attended Coronation Review at Spithead (June).

                                (Note:  197 RN ships including HMS VANGUARD, 5 Fleet Aircraft Carriers, two Light Fleet

                                Aircraft Carriers and 10 cruisers).

                                Returned to the Mediterranean. Aircraft carried out a photographic survey to assess damage after

                                an earthquake in Cyprus to assess damage.

                                Landing party assisted civil authority at Paphos.


1 9 5 4


                                Refitted for service in Training Squadron, Home Fleet.

                                Joined Home Fleet Training Squadron as Flagship as relief for HM Fleet Aircraft Carrier


                                (Note:  General Service Commissions, introduced in 1954 lasted 18 months but for aircraft

                                carriers the period was 2 years. Previously the period on foreign service commissions

                                had lasted two and a half years


1 9 5 5


                                Training Squadron deployment in continuation.

                                Detached for service in Mediterranean to support military operations in Cyprus.

                                Deployed with HMS OCEAN to carry military equipment to Cyprus.

                                Resumed Home Fleet training duties (December).


1 9 5 6


                                Training Squadron deployment in continuation with HMS OCEAN and HMS BULWARK.

                                After Egypt nationalised Suez Canal embarked troops and stores for passage to Cyprus.

                                Returned to UK on completion (July)

                                Converted for use as helicopter carrier and on completion deployed with HMS OCEAN in

                                support of operations against Egypt (August - September)

                                Landed Royal Marines of 45 Commando with HMS OCEAN (November)

                                Helicopters were also used to bring back wounded from landing are (November).

                                (Note:  The success of use of helicopters for amphibious operations at Suez later influenced

                                the decision to carry out major conversion of HMS ALBION and HMS BULWARK

                                for service as Commando Carriers using only helicopters and carrying Royal Marines).


1 9 5 7


                                Resumed Training Squadron duties

                                Despite the success of this type of carrier for amphibious operations it was decided

                                to place the ship in Reserve (October).


1 9 5 8


                                Paid off and reduced to Reserve status.

                                Placed on Disposal list (Sales).

                                (Note:  A suggestion made at a NATO Council meeting that HMS GLORY, HMS OCEAN and

                                HMS THESEUS be considered for conversion into troop transports was not approved by

                                the British government.


1 9 5 9    t o    1 9 6 1.


                                Laid up in Reserve.


1 9 6 2


                                Sold to BISCO for breaking-up at Inverkeithing, Rosyth.

                                Arrived at breakers yard on 29th May 1962.




by Bill Grace


with thanks for the crest image



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revised 14/10/10
further editing and formatting is required