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Pennant Number:



Battle Honours:





Sun Shipbuilding & Drydock Company, Chester PA


Completed by:

Newport News
Shipbuilding & Drydock Company, Virginia.


15,700 tons

length (Overall):



 69 ft 6 in


 16 knots

Crew Complement:


A/C Capacity:


Commanding Officers:

Captain George Abel-Smith, RN

Oct  41



Used by FAA squadrons working up in the  US.

856 Avenger

March 44








A History of HMS CHARGER



USS Charger in operation as a training carrier

Formerly BAVG 4 , the USS CHARGER in Chesapeake Bay where she was to conduct deck landing training operations to training US Navy and Fleet Air Arm squadrons working up in the USA.


Laid down 19 Jan 1940 at Sun Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Company, Chester PA as Maritime Commission hull number 61, Sun number 188, as a 9,100 ton C3 type passenger-cargo vessel the Rio de la Plata for the US operator Moore-McCormack Lines. She was launched on 1 March 1941 and was completed 4 September 1941. The Rio de la Plata was purchased by the US Navy 20 May 1941 for conversion into a modified 'Long Island' class Auxiliary Aircraft Carrier BAVG 4 by Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company, Virginia.. [US Navy classification 'BAVG' designates her as 'British Auxiliary Aircraft Carrier']


Three sisters: The Rio Hudson (HMS Avenger), Rio Parana (HMS Biter), and Rio de la Plata (HMS Charger) on the slips at the Sun Shipbuilding & Drydock Co., Chester, PA, USA


Her conversion consisted of installing a lightweight wooden flight deck on a truss work superstructure which covered 70% of the ships' length, fitting a small enclosed hangar beneath the aft of the flight deck to be serviced by a single lift. Charger, like her sister ships Biter and Dasher had a small island superstructure fitted. Upon the completion of her conversion into a carrier she was transferred to the Admiralty and commissioned into the Royal Navy as HMS CHARGER (D27) 2 October 1941 Captain George Abel-Smith, RN in command.


HMS CHARGER was returned to US Navy charge two days later on 4 Oct 1941 after a decision had been taken for the US navy to retain her for serve as a training carrier for US Navy and Fleet Air Arm squadrons working up in the USA. She was reclassified from BAVG 4 to AVG 30 on 24 Jan 1942; she was the only BAVG to be reclassified to the US AVG designation. Commissioned in US Naval service on 3 March 1942 as USS CHARGER.


The USS CHARGER operated off the East coast of the United states as a deck landing training carrier, and her services were used by many of the Fleet Air Arm squadrons that formed, and worked-up, at US Naval Air Stations on the US East coast.


USS Charger – this shot clearly shows the layout of the modified ‘Long Island’ class, especially her funnel arrangement.

USS CHARGER in Chesapeake Bay showing her flight. deck ID 30


Content revised: Juanuary2011

Sources used in compiling this account:

Hobbs, D. (2003) 'Royal Navy Escort Carriers' Liskeard, Maritime Books

Sturtivant, R & Balance, T., (1994) 'Squadrons of the Fleet Air Arm' Tonbridge Wells, Air Britain (Historians)

British officers (including Commonwealth officers serving in British units) Part of WWII Unit Histories and Officers web site.


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Comments (1)

Phil Becker (Arapahoe, US) says...
a question--was the Charger ever involved in a ramming incident with a US destroyer during WW2-perhaps in 1943--perhaps in Norfolk Va. harbor?
7th June 2016 2:20am
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