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by Lt Cdr Geoffrey B Mason RN (Rtd) (c) 2006

HMS SHAH (D 21) - Ruler-class Escort Aircraft Carrier

Edited by Gordon Smith, Naval-History.Net

HMS Shah (Navy Photos, click to enlarge) return to Contents List 

RULER-Class Escort Aircraft Carrier obtained under US/UK Lend Lease Agreement. A mercantile which was under construction by Seattle-Tacoma Shipbuilding Corporation at Seattle and was requisitioned by the US Navy in 1942 for completion as an auxiliary aircraft carrier,  The ship had been laid down on 13th November 1942 and was launched as USS JAMAICA (CVE4) on 21st April 1943. The ship was transferred to the RN and commissioned for Royal Navy service as  HMS SHAH. on 27th September on completion of build.  She was the second RN ship to carry this name which had been introduced  in 1873 in honour of a visit to UK by  the Shah of Persia and given to an Armoured Frigate  previously called HMS BLONDE. The new HMS SHAH was fitted with US Navy radar outfits during build.


B a t t l e  H o n o u r s


HUASCAR  Action - ZULU  WAR  1879 - EAST INDIES 1945 - BURMA 1945


H e r a l d i c   D a t a

Badge:  On a Field Blue, a Shah's crown Gold.



D e t a i l s  o f   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 3


September             Contractors trials

                27th        Build completion and formally transferred to Royal Navy and commissioned as HMS SHAH.


October                 Carried out sea trials.

                18th        On completion took passage to Esquimalt

                20th        Under modification by HM Canadian Dockyard to suit RN requirements for convoy defence.


November              Under modification

to                            Nominated for service in 1st Aircraft Squadron, Eastern Fleet and to make direct passage to

December              Colombo with call in Australia.

                                Carried out further sea trials after completion of dockyard work


1 9 4 4



                2nd         Sailed from Vancouver for San Francisco

                7th          Embarked aircraft for transport

                                (Note: Photograph in ROYAL NAVY ESCORT CARRIERS by D Hobbs shows

                                WILDCAT and P40 aircraft loaded on flight deck at a US Port.

                                As ship was not in USA after early 1944 the destination of these aircraft is to be


.                               Same reference quoted AVENGER aircraft which had been flown to San Francisco from

                                Norfolk, Va.)

                15th        Took passage from San Francisco to Melbourne, Australia.


February                At Melbourne

                                (Note: Disembarkation of aircraft to be confirmed)

                8th          Took passage to Colombo from Melbourne

                                Called at Fremantle.


March                    Passage in Indian Ocean

                19th        Arrived at Colombo after call at Cochin.

                                (Note: Disembarkation of aircraft at Cochin to be confirmed


 April                      Deployed in Eastern Fleet for aircraft ferrying duties.

                26th        Sailed from Colombo for Bombay

                                Nominated for convoy defence in Indian Ocean

                30th        Deployed in Bombay


                9th          Took passage to Colombo

                12th        Arrived At Colombo

                13th        WILDCAT aircraft embarked for trade protection duties with 851 Squadron.

                15th        Passage to Trincomalee to commenced trade protection duties.

                16th        Arrived at Trincomalee

                17th        Sailed from Trincomalee for trade defence.


June                        Deployed for trade defence in Indian Ocean

                                (Note: Aircraft carried out anti-submarine patrols and search for blockade runners.

                                Submarines were active in Indian Ocean. See WAR WITH JAPAN (HMSO)

                                and THE FORGOTTEN FLEET by J Winton.).


July                         Deployed in Indian Ocean for convoy defence with HMS BEGUM as part of Force 66.

                                (For details of U-Boat search operations see SEEK and STRIKE by W Hackmann)


August                  Took part in anti-submarine operations in Indian Ocean with HMS BEGUM, HM

                                Frigates FINDHORN, INVER, LOSSIE and PARRET, HM Indian Sloop GODAVARI,

                                and SUTLEJ as Force 66..See above references

                10th        Embarked AVENGER aircraft carried out attack on U198 without evidence of damage.

                12th        Following further air operations and search by frigates of Force 66 this U-Boat

                                was again sighted by aircraft from this ship.

                                (Note: U198 was sunk by HMIS GODAVARI and HMS FINDHORN by HEDGEHOG

                                attacks. See U-BOATS DESTROYED by P Kemp and above reference.)

                18th        At Kilindini.

                27th        Provide air cover for routine convoy from Kilindini to to Aden


September             Deployed with Force 66 for searches in Indian Ocean to intercept U-Boats on passage to

                                Germany from Dutch East Indies.

                21st         Passage to Cochin


October                  Deployed for interception of two Japanese submarines known to be on passage from Jakarta

                                to Germany with raw materials.

                                (Note: These submarines were not intercepted.)


November              Deployed with ships of Task Force 66 and shore based aircraft in search for two Japanese

                                submarines in Bay of Bengal..

                26th        Arrived att Colombo

                27th        Transferred to East Indies Fleet on formation when other ships of Eastern Fleet formed

                                British Pacific Fleet.


December              Eastern Fleet duties in continuation.


1 9 4 5


January                  Joined HM Escort Carriers, BEGUM, EMPRESS, EMPEROR and EMPRESS in 21st

                                Aircraft Carrier Squadron, East Indies Fleet at Colombo.

                                Detached as required for Indian Ocean trade defence and interceptions.

                10th        Sailed for Trincomalee for anti-submarine defence.


February                Nominated for refit and took passage to Durban

                                (Note: Carried out anti-submarine patrols on passage.)

                23rd        Arrived at Durban.


March                    Under refit


April                       Carried out post refit trials

                8th          Took passage to Kilindini

                15th        Sailed from Kilindini to rejoin East Indies Fleet at Trincomalee with call on passage at Colombo.

                                Nominated for support of planned allied landings in Burma.

                                (For details of East Indies area operations see OPERATION PACIFIC by E Gray,

                                THE FORGOTTEN FLEET by J Winton and WAR WITH JAPAN (HMSO).

                                On arrival at Trincomalee joined HM Battleship QUEEN ELIZABETH, French battleship

                                RICHELIEU, HM Cruisers CUMBERLAND, SUFFOLK and Dutch cruiser TROMP

                                with HMS EMPRESS in Force 63 to provide cover for landings at Rangoon by attacks

                                on Car Nicobar and Port Blair in Andamans (Operation BISHOP).

                                (Note HELLCAT, SEAFIRE and AVENGER aircraft with personnel were embarked.)

                27th        Sailed for BISHOP from Trincomalee with Force 63 screened by HM Destroyers PENN,

                                NUBIAN, VERULAM, TARTAR and ROTHERHAM.

                30th        Air strikes made on airfields at Car Nicobar and the harbour at Port Blair during

                                bombardment by ships of Force 63.



                1st           Provided cover for Force 63 ships during bombardment at Car Nicobar and Malacca.

                2nd         Air cover provision during further bombardments by Force 63.

                3rd          Carried out shipping attacks during Force 63 operations off Burma.

                9th          Returned to Trincomalee with ships of East Indies Fleet.

                10th        Sailed from Trincomalee with HMS ROYALIST, HMS HUNTER, HMS KHEDIVE and

                                HMS EMPEROR of the 21st Squadron as part of Force 61.

                                (Force 61 also included HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH, FS RICHELIEU, HM Cruisers

                                CUMBERLAND and Dutch TROMP screened by HM Destroyers SAUMAREZ, VIRAGO,

                                VENUS, VIGILANT, TARTAR, NUBIAN and ROTHERHAM to intercept Japanese vessels

                                reported to be evacuating the Andaman and Nicobar garrisons. (Operation DUKEDOM).

                14th        Detached with 21st Squadron, HMS CUMBERLAND and HM Destroyers SAUMAREZ,

                                VENUS, VERULAM, VIGILANT and VIRAGO of 26th Destroyer Flotilla to carry out attack

                                on ships at Nancowry (Operation MITRE).

                15th        Flying operations delayed by defective catapult and AVENGERS transferred to HMS

                                EMPEROR. Japanese ships sighted by air reconnaissance off Penang and attacked

                                by aircraft from this ship without success. One aircraft was shot down.

                                (Note: Pilot and aircrew later captured when dinghy drifted ashore in Burma.)

                                Further sighting by 851 Squadron aircraft identified enemy ships as a cruiser and a destroyer

                                and then attacked by aircraft.

                                Enemy ship which altered course after hits.

                                (Note: Surface interception was then made by destroyers of the 26th Flotilla.

                                The sinking of Japanese cruiser HAGURO followed a brilliantly executed

                                night torpedo attack is described in SINK THE HAGURO by J Winton and the

                                WAR WITH JAPAN (HMSO).)

                16th        Rejoined ships of East Indies Fleet for return passage to Trincomalee.

                21st         Arrived at Trincomalee.

                24th        Deployed at Bombay



                6th          Sailed from Bombay to rejoin Fleet at Trincomalee.

                                Deployed for Fleet cover and convoy defence duties with Squadron.

                                See above references for details of naval activities off Burma.


July                         Nominated for support of planned landings in Malaya (Operation ZIPPER)

                                (Note: The landings were postponed because of problems relating to the return of

                                military personnel from the Far East under the PYTHON scheme and the

                                insistence of US for delay pending planned Pacific operations.

                                See Final Report of SEAC (HMSO) and above references.)

                                Fleet duties in continuation.


August                  Nominated for anti-submarine operations in support of transit of ZIPPER convoys

                                Pennant Number for visual signalling purposes was changed to R312 to conform

                                with US Navy identity for this type of warship.)

                26th        Carried out anti-submarine operations

                                (Note: Area of these operations to be established.)

                                Returned to Colombo on completion.


P o s t  W a r  N o t e s


HMS SHAH was nominated for return to UK in September and released from East Indies Fleet. The ship sailed for UK on 26th September with personnel of 845 and 851 Squadrons embarked. She arrived in the Clyde for the first time on 7th October and was de-stored prior to return to the US Navy. Manned by a Steaming Party she sailed for Norfolk Va on 16th of October and was formally handed over on 26th November 1945. The ship was placed on the Disposal List and sold on 20th June 1947 for use as a mercantile. As ss SALTA this ship remained in trade until 1966 and was broken-up in Buenos Aires the next year.


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