A History of HMS CHASER
The newly commissioned HMS CHASER in Chesapeake Bay with
Tarpons (Avengers) of 845squadron ranged on deck during
the ship's work up with the new squadron in June1943.
845's air crews practiced dummy torpedo at tacks,
navigation and radio exercises while the ship's air
department experienced flight operations for the first
HMS CHASER began life as a 11,900 ton Maritime Commission C3-S-A2
type freighter, MORMACGULF ordered for the US operator
Moore-McCormack Lines. Her keel was laid down June 28th 1941 at the
Ingalls Shipbuilding Corporation shipyard. Pascagoula, Mississippi,
she was Maritime Commission hull number 162, Ingalls hull number
295/ On 26th December 1941 the MORMACGULF was purchased by the
US navy for conversion an auxiliary aircraft carrier the USS BRETON,
AVG - 10 and was launched June 19th 1942.
The name BRETON was cancelled when it was decided that AVG - 10
was to be transferred to the Admiralty under the lend-lease
programme on completion. AVG-10 began her contractor's trials at the
beginning of April 1943 and work was completed on April 9th when the
ship was formally transferred to the Royal Navy and commissioned as
HMS CHASER, Captain H.V.P. McClintock DSO, RN in command. Her US
designation now became BAVG - 10, but this was changed to CVE-10 on
July 15th 1943; she was the second vessel to bear this name, the
first was a 320 ton, 18 gun Sloop, in 1781.
Having completed her Admiralty acceptance trials CHASER was ready
to sail on her maiden voyage by April 20th when she took passage to
Norfolk Navy Yard, arriving there on the 23rd. The ship was to spend
the next month working up to operational efficiency in the
Chesapeake Bay area. This was completed by May 21stWhen the carrier
prepared to receive her first operational aircraft.
CHASER was to embark and operate the 12 Avenger Mk.1s of 845
Naval Air Squadron on passage to the UK; this squadron had been
formed and trained at USNAS
Quonset Point and had moved to USNAS Norfolk by May 27th for
Deck Landing Training, aboard both the USS CHARGER (on the 27th) and
HMS CHASER (from 28th May). There were two deck landing accidents on
the first day of flying operations form CHASER, both aircraft
suffered minor damage FN777 hit an obstruction on the flight deck,
while FN781 drift on landing and a wheel slipped of the edge of the
deck into the catwalk. A third accident happened on June 4th when
the tail of FN779 hit the round down on landing.
The 12 Avengers of 845 squadron embarked on June 1st to continue
working with the ship before she sailed for New York on the 26th to
wait an Atlantic convoy. on the 30th she joined Convoy HX245, New
York to the Clyde, and 845 squadron operated anti submarine patrols
as part of the convoy escort. The convoy crossing was without
incident and HMS CHASER arrived on the Clyde on July4th, 845
squadron departed the ship disembarking to RNAS Machrihanish.
The following day CHASER suffered serious damage when an
explosion occurred in the boiler room; there were no serious
injuries but the ship required dockyard assistance to effect
repairs. There was no room in any of the Clyde yards so CHASER took
passage to Rosyth for repair in the Naval Dockyard.
On completion of repairs she took passage to the Clyde, arriving
on October 29th she was allocated to Western Approaches Command and
embarked the squadron maintenance personnel of her latest squadron
in preparation for beginning a work up in the Clyde training areas.
On November 6th she embarked the aircraft of 835 composite naval air
squadron equipped with 9 Swordfish & 6 Sea Hurricanes. Flying
operations during the work up resulted in four damaged aircraft; on
the 25th Sea Hurricane BW886 came in for a fast landing, bounced and
stalled, finally stopping wham it's starboard oleo collapsed. The
following day saw two Swordfish damaged, when LS243 collided with
HS612 while taxying on the flight deck, on the 28th, the last day of
flying Swordfish LS457 suffered a deck landing accident. Her work up
program complete 835 departed for RNAS Eglinton, Northern Ireland
and CHASER returned to the Clyde for a further period of defect
rectification in commercial shipyard on November 29th.
Her repairs were to take until mid January 1944 to complete, on
returning to active duty CHASER was allocated to trade protection
duties on the Russian convoy route, She embarked the 22 aircraft and
personnel of 816 composite naval air squadron, 9 Swordfish and 5
Wildcat, from RNAS Donibristle on January 19th and proceeded to
Scapa Flow. The aircraft of 816 were put ashore to RNAS Hatston on
February 12 but re-embarked the 16th.
HMS CHASER sailed from Scapa Flow on the 21st for to join convoy
JW57 escorted by the Destroyers WANDERER and WATCHMAN, and the
Frigates BYRON and STRULE. This was code named Operation "FX", the
escorting of 42 merchant ships to North Russia. CHASER and her
escort joined JW57 the following day and were deployed in Position
63. The sea was rough with frequent snowstorms and very low
temperatures which caused problems, but despite this the Swordfish
managed to maintained anti-submarine patrols.
A fuller account of this ships history will be
added at some time in the future.
Returned to US Navy 12 May 1946, stricken for disposal 3 July
1946. Sold into merchant service 20 Dec 1946 as Aagtekerk.
E Yung 1967. Burned and run ashore at Kaohsiung, Taiwan 20 Dec
1972 (or sank 4 December 1973; records are unclear); hulk scrapped
in Taiwan in 1973.
HMS CHASER at Sydney. Australia wearing the pennant
number R306 which she wore during her service with the
British Pacific Fleet during 1945.. Photo courtesy Mr.
11 June 2020
Sources used in compiling this account:
Click here for a list of
Fold3.com various documents including;
Admiralty War Diaries
Norfolk Navy Yard War Diaries
Mew York Navy Yard War Diaries
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