The British Pacific and East Indies Fleets

The forgotten fleets that fought the Japanese in the Pacific and Indian Oceans



Aircraft Maintenance Carrier

Motto: FORTITER (Bravely)

Pennant No. BB346


Battle Honours







Builder: Vickers Armstrong, Newcastle, United Kingdom

Displacement: 18,330 tons

Length: 695 ft

Beam: 80 ft 4 int

Draught: 23 ft

Speed: 25 Knots

 Crew complement: 1,076


Commanding Officers

Captain G.R. Deverell 17 Apr 1945

Commander R.E. Gunston





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November 1945, HMS PERSEUS in the Suez Canal on her way out to Join the BPF. Photo courtesy Maurice Ayling./p>


Laid down as a Colossus class Light Fleet Aircraft Carrier on June 1st 1942 at Vickers Armstrong, Newcastle and launched 26 March 1944. Her designation was changed, along with that of her sister ship PIONEER, to Aircraft Maintenance Carrier whist she was being completed. The aft end of her flight deck was obstructed and she was built without catapults so no flying operations could be undertaken; all aircraft had to come aboard from lighters using the ship's cranes. Originally to be named HMS EDGAR, she was commissioned on October 19th 1945 as H.M.S. PERSEUS.

Allocated to the British Pacific Fleet

PERSEUS sailed on her maiden voyage to Sydney, Australia, leaving the UK on November 16th 1945. She a arrived a Sydney on December 22nd 1945 carrying a cargo of Seafires and Fireflies for service with the BPF.

In late January an explosion occurred when an aircraft lighter blew up alongside the carrier in Sydney shortly before she sailed for Brisbane. PERSEUS arrived in Brisbane on January 31st and was tasked with ferrying 'Lend-Lease' American aircraft out beyond the Great Barrier Reef for dumping at sea.

HMS PERSEUS was deemed to be surplus to requirements in the spring of 1946, a number of her complement being drafted to RN Barracks Sydney for reassignment in March. She sailed for Portsmouth, via Fremantle, to pay off, arriving in May 1946 carrying food and RN personnel returning home for de-mob.

Post BPF history

PERSEUS transferred to the reserve fleet effective from June 1st 1946 where she remained until starting a major refit during 1949 - 51 to install a prototype steam catapult. She commenced extensive sea trials during 1951. before operating with the US Navy for steam catapult trials in 1952, before being reclassified as a Ferry Carrier at the end of year. Activities in this role included a trip to the Far East.

PERSEUS received her second refit in 1955 but was returned to the reserve list on completion. PERSEUS was finally put up for disposal in 1957, being sold to Smith & Houston May 6th 1958 for Breaking at Port Glasgow.

Last modified: 16 June 2020


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HM Ships COLOSSUS, GLORY, VENERABLE and VENGEANCE. GLORY did not arrive in Sydney until August 16th.


At the end of June 1945, the Admiralty implemented a new system of classification for carrier air wings, adopting the American practice one carrier would embark a single Carrier Air Group (CAG) which would encompass all the ships squadrons.


Sturtivant, R & Balance, T. (1994) 'Squadrons of the Fleet Air Arm’ list 899 squadron as conducting DLT on the Escort Carrier ARBITER on August 15th. It is possible that the usual three-day evolution was cancelled due to the announcement of the Japanese surrender on this date and was postponed for a month.


The reminiscences of

Gordon served with the radio section of Mobile Repair UNit No.1 (MR 1) at Nowra, he was a member of the local RN dance band, and possibly the last member of MONAB I to leave Nowra after it paid off. .

Drafted to

Coming home

In March 1946 I joined 812 squadron, aboard HMS Vengeance, spending some time ditching American aircraft north of Australia. Eventually we sailed for Ceylon ( Sri Lanka ) landing at Trincomalee and setting up a radio section at Katakarunda. In the belief that we were exhausted we were sent to a rest camp at Kandy for a few weeks. We moved down to Colombo to pick up Vengeance and returned to Portsmouth via the Suez Canal . I was discharged in November 1946.

Gordon Theaker