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by Lt Cdr Geoffrey B Mason RN (Rtd) (c) 2004

HMS VINDICTIVE -  Repair Ship, ex-aircraft carrier, ex-Cavendish-class light cruiser

Edited by Gordon Smith, Naval-History.Net

HMS Vindictive (Navy Photos/Mark Teadham, click to enlarge) return to Contents List 

Improved BIRMINGHAM-Class cruiser built by Harland and Wolff at Belfast under an Emergency War Programme and was ordered in July 1917- She was laid down on 8th December 1917 and was intended to be named CAVENDISH, but on selection to be converted for use as an aircraft carrier was renamed. Her new name was introduced In 1779 for a Galley, probably purchased in America. It was last used for a cruiser in 1897 which achieved renown when she took part in the Zeebrugge and Ostend attacks in 1918 and was sunk as a blockship at Ostend. This cruiser was launched on 18th December 1918 and the 5th RN warship to carry the name VINDICTIVE. Her conversion involved removal of 3 of her 6in guns and the fitting of a 215 ft landing deck aft with another forward measuring 100 ft. The ship carried six or eight aircraft, depending on their type. Build was completed on 19th June 1919. In 1925 the ship was again converted and reverted to use as a cruiser in 1929. The forward hangar was retained and a catapult with crane for recovery were fitted aft. After 11 years use as a cruiser yet another conversion was authorised and the ship was converted for use as a Cadet Training Ship. She was disarmed and modified to provide the facilities for training of Cadets. As a result her use during WW2 was limited to support duties.


B a t t l e   H o n o u r s


ZEEBRUGGE 1918 - OSTEND 1918 - NORWAY 1940


H e r a l d i c   D a t a

Badge:   On a Field Blue, Out of a Cloud Proper, an Arm, the hand grasping a Scimitar all Gold


M o t t o

Vinidicavi: 'I have made good'



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 3 9


September             After the outbreak of war with Germany selected for use as a Repair Ship.

                                Taken in hand for conversion to new role.


October                  Under conversion.

to December


1 9 4 0


January                  On completion of conversion commissioned for service and joined Home Fleet.




April                       Nominated for support of ships deployed in Norway after the German invasion.

                12th        Passage to Norway in Convoy NP1 taking troops for initial landings.

                                (Operation RUPERT/R4).

                                (Note: Escort included HM Battleship VALIANT screened by HM Destroyers ACASTA

                                ARDENT and CODRINGTON).

                14th        Passage to Vaagsfjord when some ships detached for Namsos.

                                See Naval Staff History (HMSO- 2000)

                18th        Embarked troops at Bygen for passage to Vaagsfjord, See reference..

                                Escorted by HM Destroyer ELECTRA.

                                Under high level air attacks which disrupted landing arrangements and were

                                a forewarning of the extent of air defence required.

                                Landed troops west of Oftfjord.

                24th        Embarked troops at Bogden for passage to land near Narvik after preliminary bombardment.

                                Carried bombardment with HMS WARSPITE, HMS ENTERPRISE and HM Destroyer ZULU.

                                (Note: Landings were not carried out because of adverse weather conditions,


May                        Based at Harstad for support duties.

                                Nominated for support of planned landings at Bjerkvik

                12th        Embarked French Chasseurs at Bjerkvik.

                                Passage to Bjerkvik with HM Battleship RESOLUTION, HM Cruisers EFFINGHAM,

                                AURORA, HM Destroyers SOMALI, FAME, HAVELOCK, WREN and BASILISK.

                                (Note: HM Netlayer PROTECTOR also carried troops.)

                13th        Bombarded landing area with HMS RESOLUTION, HMS EFFINGHAM

                                prior to landings.

                                Returned to Harstad when released from support duty.


June                        Took part in final evacuation from Narvik area.

                                See reference for details.

                4th          Embarked troops for evacuation.

                7th          Sailed from Harstad for UK as sole escort for Group I Evacuation Convoy.

                                (Note: Group I comprised troopships MONARCH OF BERMUDA, Polish

                                BATORY, Polish SOBIESKI, FRANCONIA, LANCASTRIA and


                8th          In action against single aircraft which was driven off.

                9th          HM Battleship VALIANT met Group I to provide additional cover during


July                         Deployed with Home Fleet at Scapa Flow.


August                  Transferred to West Africa Command for support of escorts.

                                Passage to Freetown.


September             Deployed as Base Repair Ship at Freetown.




1 9 4 1


                                Freetown support duty in continuation


1 9 4 2


January                  Freetown deployment in continuation.




October                  Nominated for transfer to Oran for support duties after allied landings in North

                                Africa (Operation TORCH)


November              Passage to Oran.

                                Joined HM Destroyer Depot Ship HECLA escorted by HM Destroyers VENOMOUS and

                                MARNE west of Gibraltar. (See HITLER'S U-BOAT WAR Volume 2)

                12th        Avoided torpedoes fired by U515. During a series of attacks HMS HECLA was hit by three

                                torpedoes and sank with heavy loss of life.

                                HMS MARNE was seriously damaged after being hit by another torpedo.


December              Deployed at Oran in support role for escorts.


1 9 4 3


                                Deployed at Oran for Repair Ship duties.


1 9 4 4


January                  Oran duties in continuation




March                    Nominated for return to UK for repair duties after allied landings in Normandy.

                                (Operation NEPTUNE).


April                       Passage to UK.


May                        Deployed in Home Waters and awaiting transfer to Normandy area after completion

to                            of Assault Phase. Refitted for use as a Destroyer Depot Ship.



July                         Deployed for Accommodation and repair purposes in support of operations off the French

to                            coast.



1 9 4 5


January                  On release from support of operations retained in use as an Accommodation Ship.

to                            Passage to Portsmouth.

May                        Nominated for reduction to Reserve status


June                        Paid off and reduced to Reserve

to                            Laid-up at Portsmouth.



P o s t   W a r   N o t e s


HMS VINDICTIVE remained in Reserve at Portsmouth until 1946 when placed on the Disposal List. This ship was sold to BISCO for demolition by Hughes Bolcow in February that year. She was later towed to Blyth. 


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