HMS Albion (R07)


HMS Albion (R07)

The eighth HMS "Albion" (R07) was a 22,000 ton "Centaur"-class light fleet carrier of the Royal Navy.

Construction and modifications

She was built on the Tyne by Swan Hunter & Wigham Richardson. Her keel was laid down in 1944, she was launched in May 1947, but she was not fully completed until May 1954, and after an initial work up with her air group, joined the Mediterranean Fleet in September that same year, becoming flagship of Flag Officer Aircraft Carriers.

Operations

In 1956, after refitting at Portsmouth, HMS Albion returned once again to the Mediterranean for operations relating to the Suez Crisis where her air group struck key Egyptian airfields, and covered the paratroopers landings. In July 1958 "Albion" had a sample of what she would one day become, when she embarked 42 Commando, Royal Marines, with all its vehicles and additional equipment to the Middle East.

Final fixed wing compliment as embarked in 1959-60 [http://www.btinternet.com/~a.c.walton/navy/rn-cv3.html]
*806 sqn. 8 Sea Hawk FGA6 Fighter-Attack
*894 sqn. 12 Sea Venom FAW21 Night/All Weather Fighter
*849 sqn. D flt. 4 Skyraider AEW1 Airborne Early Warning
*815 sqn. 8 Whirlwind HAS7 Helicopter Anti-Submarine Warfare
*Ships Flight 1 Dragonfly HR5 Helicopter Search and Rescue

The next two years saw her visit the Far East, Australia, New Zealand and the South Atlantic and Indian Oceans, before she returned to Portsmouth to pay off. In January 1961 conversion begun for her to become a commando carrier. She re-commissioned in 1962, training with two helicopter squadrons as well as 40 Commando, Royal Marines before she joined the Far East Fleet. She was a vital asset in supporting operations ashore in Borneo during the Indonesian Confrontation. In 1967 she was part of the RN task force that covered the withdrawal from Aden, and in 1971 was part of another withdrawal of British forces, this time in Singapore and the disbandment of the Far East Fleet.

She sailed from Portsmouth in March 1971 for the Far East, under the command of Captain James Jungius RN. She paid a brief visit to Ascension Island before visiting Durban in April 1971. She was in Bombay from 3 to 6 May 1971 and, after a passage of nearly seven weeks the ship embarked 40 Commando Royal Marines off Changi for an exercise (set as a counter-terrorist operation in Brunei). A ceremonial entry into Singapore followed with 848 Naval Air Squadron providing a flypast as the air squadron disembarked to HMS Simbang. A month alongside in Singapore followed, for an assisted maintenance period (AMP). Having embarked the Australian Army Band, the ship sailed Singapore at the end of June for Japan, carrying out a full power trial and encountering typhoons on passage. HMS "Albion" was in Kobe from 1 to 8 July 1971 and then returned to Singapore. A night assault exercise followed in the Marang area, in company with a number of other warships and auxiliaries.

After a rough passage the ship arrived in Fremantle on 9 August 1971 for an eight-day visit, shifting from tropical uniform ("whites") to blue uniform ("blues") for the Australian winter. She returned to Singapore on 23 August and had another month alongside. Sailing Singapore on 20 September, she spent two days at the U.S. Naval Base Subic Bay and arrived Hong Kong on 30 September where she was alongside the British naval base, HMS Tamar, until 11 October.

Back in Singapore on 15 October, her last two weeks in the naval base were spent storing, embarking 40 Commando Royal Marines and 848 Naval Air Squadron as part of the British withdrawal from the Far East. A farewell parade of all British armed forces represented in Singapore was held at 1730 on 29 October 1971 at the base at Sembawang, the salute being taken by Air Chief Marshal Sir Brian Burnett. The ship sailed the next day and, on 31 October 1971, the ship was one of twenty in a steampast - and flypast - that marked the handover of the naval base to the ANZUK forces. HMS "Albion" then headed west.

First call was Gan and then on to Mombasa from 14-22 November, where the ship underwent a week's self-maintenance period (SMP) in Kilindini harbour. She then sailed to Masirah Island and, as part of the "Gulf Covering Force", assisted with the withdrawal of British forces form the Persian Gulf. On 10 December she was detached, at full speed, to the Bay of Bengal to aid United Kingdom citizens remaining in East Pakistan during the Indo-Pakistan War but was diverted to Gan, where she arrived on 15 December. From Gan, 40 Commando Royal Marines were flown home to the United Kingdom. For the ship, it was Christmas in the Indian Ocean and New Year in Cape Town, from where she sailed on 5 January 1972. Back in home waters, she disembarked 848 Naval Air Squadron on 20 January and entered Portsmouth on 24 January 1972.

After maintenance and leave, the ship sailed Portsmouth on 11 April 1972, embarking 848 Naval Air Squadron, for the Mediterranean. After a visit to Gibraltar, the ship was lying off Cyprus from 20 to 29 April supporting Royal Marines in an exercise. Then followed a large NATO exercise, "Dawn Patrol", which included visits to Kavala, Greece, and Souda Bay, Crete. Returning west for home, with a brief stop at Gibraltar, the ship paid an official visit to Brest from 23 to 30 May 1972, flying the flag of the Commander-in-Chief Fleet, Admiral Sir Edward Ashmore. The ship returned to Portsmouth on the last day of May and, in the first week of June, Captain William Staveley RN assumed command.

June 1972 saw the ship carrying out demonstrations at sea for officers from the Royal College of Defence Studies and, on 14 June, she headed north for Rosyth where the ship received a vist from the Grand Duke of Luxembourg. Having embarked 45 Command Royal Marines and 848 Naval Air Squadron in the Firth of Forth, she sailed north for exercises in waters around the Orkney Islands. She was in Rotterdam from 28 June to 4 July 1972 and, on 8 July, 848 Naval Air Squadron disembarked HMS "Albion" for the last time, before the ship spent Clyde Week in Greenock. Her last United Kingdom port visit was to Dover, marking the ship's adoption by the Confederation of Cinque Ports. On 18 July, she held a Families' Day in Portsmouth before going alongside in the naval base for leave and maintenance.

She took part in Exercise "Strong Express", then the largest NATO exercise ever staged in September 1972, in Norwegian waters around Harstad. Her final deployment was to Canada, and she sailed Portsmouth on 10 October 1972, embarking 42 Commando Royal Marines and 845 Naval Air Squadron the next day. She arrived St John, New Brunswick on 19 October 1972 and landed 42 Commando for exercises ashore with Canadian forces and, two days later, Halifax, Nova Scotia for a nine-day visit hosted by HMCS "Stadacona". She began her passage along the St Lawrence Seaway on 31 October 1972, arriving Montreal two days later. With 150 sea cadets embarked, she sailed Montreal at 0830 on 7 November 1972 and arrived Quebec at 2030 the same day. Sailing 10 November 1972, she called at St John on 13 November in order to recover 42 Commando, finally departing Canadian waters on 15 November and heading east across the North Atlantic. At 0800 on 22 November she anchored in Plymouth Sound and disembarked 42 Commando and 845 Naval Air Squadron. Sailing Plymouth the next day, she entered Portsmouth Harbour at 1430 on 24 November 1972, flying her paying-off pennant, with a fly-past by 845 Naval Air Squadron. The usual activities then began before disposal of the ship: de-ammunitioning, returning equipments, the last ship's company dance (ashore), the wardroom paying-off ball and, daily, an exodus of members of the ship's company.

In 1973 she was sold for conversion to a heavy lift vessel for North Sea oil exploration, but the plan collapsed, and she was broken up for scrap at Faslane Naval Base.

External links

* [http://www.maritimequest.com/warship_directory/great_britain/pages/aircraft_carriers/hms_albion_r07.htm Maritimequest HMS Albion R-07 photo gallery]
* [http://www.fleetairarmarchive.net/Ships/Albion.html HMS Albion information]


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