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by Lt Cdr Geoffrey B Mason RN (Rtd) (c) 2005

HMS EMPRESS (D 42) - Ruler-class Escort Aircraft Carrier

Edited by Gordon Smith, Naval-History.Net

HMS Atheling, sister ship (Navy Photos/Mark Teadham, 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 for completion as an auxiliary aircraft carrier (CVE) to be named USS CARNEGIE. She was laid down on 9th September 1942 and  launched on  30th December that year. Her build was completed on 9th August 1943 and the ship was commissioned for Royal Navy service as HMS EMPRESS on 12th August This ship was fitted with US Navy radar outfits during build. She was  the 5th RN ship to carry this name, introduced in 1859 for a training ship and last used by  Seaplane Carrier hired in World War 1.


B a t t l e   H o n o u r s


ATLANTIC 1944  - BURMA 1945


H e r a l d i c   D a t a

None is  recorded  in  the official List  of  Badges.



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


August                  Contractors trials

                9th          Build completion

                                Passage to Esquimalt                         

                12th        Commissioned for RN service in RCN Dockyard

                                Taken in hand by HM Dockyard for modifications to suit RN deployment for convoy defence.


September             Under modification




1 9 4 4


January                  Under modification

                                (Note: Ship may have carried out sea trials during this period.)


February                Prepared for passage to UK

                17th        Sailed for New York via Panama Canal



                9th          Transit of Panama Canal

                                (Note: The time taken from Vancouver suggests call may have been made at Pacific

                                coast ports in USA.

                                This date is to be confirmed.)

                                Deployed with HM Escort Aircraft Carrier SPEAKER, US Navy CVE USS TULAGI and

                                two RCN Corvettes for exercises in Caribbean during passage to Norfolk

                                (Note: Provision of AVENGER aircraft for first deck landing on HMS SPEAKER to be


                                (Note: This to be confirmed and is at variance with details for HMS SPEAKER.)

                26th        Sailed from New York.

                                (Note: Ship embarked AVENGER aircraft for passage to UK

                                These were destined for 850 Squadron.)



                8th          Arrived in Clyde and disembarked aircraft

                                (Note: This would require an alongside berth and may have been done in Belfast

                                or Glasgow.)

                11th        Allocated to Western Approaches Command but not deployed due to defects.

                                Taken in hand for repair in Clyde commercial shipyard


May                        Under repair.

to                            Transferred to Rosyth dockyard and took passage to Clyde on completion.

November              (Note: In addition to defects further modification work was undertaken to deal with

                                changes found necessary after experience gained in other operational CVE..)


 December             Nominated for service in 21st Aircraft Carrier Squadron, East Indies Fleet and prepared

                                for operational service.

                                (Note: Ship may have sailed to Clyde in this period.)


1 9 4 5


January                  Passage to Clyde from Forth. To be confirmed

                6th          Joined escort for outward Convoy KMF38 during passage from Clyde to Gibraltar

                10th        Detached from KMF38 on arrival at Gibraltar and took passage to Suez.


February                Passage in Indian Ocean

                4th          Arrived at Trincomalee and joined Squadron

                                (Note: Other ships in Squadron were HM Escort Carriers BEGUM, EMPEROR, SHAH,

                                AMEER, KHEDIVE, SLINGER and SPEAKER.

                                845 Squadron personnel and aircrew embarked together with a detachment of HELLCAT

                                personnel and aircraft of 804 Squadron.

                                Carried out exercises in preparation for planned East Indies Fleet operations

                                Nominated for deployment in Force 64 for Photo-reconnaissance flights prior to the planned

                                landings in Malaya (Operation STACEY).

                22nd       Sailed from Trincomalee with Force 64.

                                (Note: Others ships included HM Escort Carrier AMEER, HM Cruiser KENYA, HM

                                Destroyers VOLAGE, VIRAGO and VIGILANT, HM Frigates PLY, SPEY and


                24th        Provided fuel for destroyers and frigates during passage.

                26th        Commenced photo reconnaissance flying operations.


March                    On completion returned to Trincomalee.

                                Took part in preparation for planned occupation of Rangoon

                                WALRUS aircraft of 1700 embarked with aircrew.


April                       Joined HM Battleship QUEEN ELIZABETH, French battleship RICHELIEU, HM Cruisers

                                CUMBERLAND, SUFFOLK and Dutch cruiser TROMP with HM Escort Aircraft Carrier

                                SHAH as Task Force 63 to provide cover for landings at Rangoon by attacks on Car Nicobar

                                and Port Blair in Andamans (Operation BISHOP).

                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 TF63.


May                        Deployed at Trincomalee.

to                            (Note: During this period extensive preparations were being made for the planned landings in

June                        Malaya (Operation ZIPPER)

                                These were delayed due to US insistence for political reasons and difficulties in

                                implementing the PYTHON Scheme for the return to UK of long serving SEAC

                                personnel. See THEN FORGOTTEN FLEET by J Winton, WAR AT SEA Vol.VI

                                (HMSO) and the FINAL Report of Supreme Commander SEAC (HMSO).)


July                         Nominated for support of operations in preparation for landings in Malaya with

                                21st Aircraft Carrier Squadron.

                                (Note: 896 Squadron of HELLCATS were embarked and WALRUS aircraft of 1700


                19th        Deployed with HM Battleship NELSON, HM Cruiser SUSSEX, HM Escort Aircraft Carrier

                                AMEER screened by HM Destroyers PALADIN, ROTHERHAM, RACEHORSE and

                                RAIDER to cover minesweeping operation off Phuket Island (Operation LIVERY).

                24th        During minesweeping operations aircraft carried out attacks on Kra Isthmus.

                to            (Note: HM Minesweeper SQUIRREL was lost during the clearance on 24th.)


                26th        Air strikes continued during final day of minesweeping.

                                Force 63 came under air attacks by suicide bombers. One VAL bomber destroyed by ship’s fire

                                and another by HMS SUSSEX. Later HM Minesweeper VESTAL was hit by another attack and

                                set on fire. HMS VESTAL was sunk by gunfire from HMS RACEHORSE after crew rescued.

                                (Note: During these attacks fighter aircraft from both carriers were operating for defence of the

                                Force but no direction facilities were available from HMS NELSON which prevented

                                effective interception of the enemy aircraft.)

                28th        Returned to Trincomalee with ships of Force 63.

                                (Note: Operation LIVERY was the last offensive operation carried out by the East Indies

                                Fleet in WW2.

 August                 Deployed in Bay of Bengal with Squadron units to provide cover during landings in Malaya

                                pending approval of US authorities.

                                (Note HELLCAT aircraft of 896 Squadron and WALRUS of 1700 Squadron embarked)


September             Provided support during ZIPPER landings in Penang and near Port Dickson.

                                (Note: Return to Trincomalee with catapult defect to be confirmed

                                See BRITISH INVASION FLEETS by J de Winser)

                10th        At Singapore with ships of Squadron.

                12th        Present at formal surrender of all Japanese forces in South East Asia at Singapore.

                                On release from ZIPPER took passage to Trincomalee to resume Squadron duties


October                  Deployed with Squadron at Trincomalee

                11th        At Colombo

                                Nominated for visit to New Zealand and took passage.


November              Passage in SW Pacific

                                Nominated for release from East Indies service

                3rd          At Wellington

                                Took return passage to Colombo.

                23rd        At Colombo

                                Prepared for passage to UK

                27th        Sailed for UK to Pay-off


December              Passage in Mediterranean

                19th        Arrived in Clyde to de-store and for removal of British equipment before return to

                                US Navy

                                896 Squadron aircraft and personnel disembarked,

                                (Note: The majority of ships company left ship leaving only a Steaming Party needed

                                for Atlantic passage and hand-over to US Navy)


1 9 4 6


January                  Prepared for Ocean passage

                6th          Sailed from Clyde for Norfolk.

                20th        At Norfolk



                4th          Formal transfer to US Navy at Norfolk


F i n a l   P h a s e


The ship was placed on the Sales List and sold  for demolition by an American shipbreaker in 1949.



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