A History of HMS NABOB
Aerial view of HMS NABOB in March of 1944 off the coast
of California during her post modification work up with
Avengers of 852 squadron..
NABOB was a 'Ruler' class escort carrier (US Bogue class) built in
the USA at Seattle-Tacoma Shipbuilding Co. Tacoma, Washington. Her
keel was laid down on October 20th 1942 as a C3-S-A1 type freighter,
Maritime Commission hull number 252, Seattle-Tacoma hull number 36.
The hull was purchased by the US navy to be completed as the USS
EDISTO ACV-41 (designation later changed to CVE-41).
was launched on March 9th 1943, 140 days after her keel was laid.
Whilst still under construction it had been decided that CVE-41
was to be transferred to the Admiralty on loan upon her completion,
Cdr. L.R. Romer RN was appointed as Officer in Charge on August 15rh
1943. After spending 182 days outfitting the ship was ready for
delivery on September 7th 943; CVE-41 took a total of 322 days to
41was transferred to Royal Navy custody at Tacoma. Washington on
September 7th 1943 and was accepted on behalf of the Admiralty by
Cdr. L.R. Romer RN. The White Ensign was hoisted and the ship was
renamed HMS NABOB, pennant number D77.
completing builders and Admiralty acceptance trials CVE-41, manned
by a small steaming party under the command of Cdr. Romer, preceded
to Vancouver, Canada, arriving at LaPointe Pier on the 10th. CVE-41
was one of 19 escort carriers to be modified to meet Admiralty
requirements by the Burrard Dry Dock Co. Ltd., North Vancouver,
British Columbia. While in Vancouver she was to receive her full
crew compliment and work up ready for beginning her active service.
Modification and preparation to enter service:
October 15th Cdr. Romer was relieved by Capt. Horatio Nelson Lay OBE
RCN who assumed command; NABOB's ship's company, excluding the Air
Department and squadrons, was provided by the Royal Canadian Navy.
Out of her crew of 750 men, 450 were from Canada. NABOB was still a
British naval vessel however; the terms of the lend-lease agreement
under which she was supplied prohibited her transfer to the Canadian
NABOB's alterations and modification were started by Burrard Drydock
on November 1stm these would bring the ship up to RN standards and
outfit her as an Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) carrier. On November
24th the ship was placed in Drydock for the fitting of Asdic
equipment and sea cocks, the work taking 3 days to complete.
Electrical work was sub-contracted and completed by Hume & Rumble.
alteration/modification work was completed on December 21st 1943,
having taken 51 Days' extra time at Vancouver was required however
because part of the engine room machinery, the Low Pressure turbine
had to be removed and re-milled at Allis Chambers' factory in
Milwaukee. The rotor was detached on October 10th however it was not
until December 27th that a replacement rotor (ex CVE 38) had been
received. The work on the Rotor was completed on January 13th 1944
and after a dock trial NABOB left Burrads terminal for a mooring in
the stream before moving to Esquimalt on the 24th to begin working
On January 25th NABOB
ran aground at near top speed, while operating in the Georgia
Strait, between Vancouver Island and the Pacific coast of British
Columbia. She was taking advantage of the aircraft of 850 squadron
based at RCAF Sea Island, and had arranged a day of flight
operations to put the ship through its paces. While steaming at
speed into wind to receive aircraft NABOB had run aground on an
uncharted sand bar and stuck fast.
Her sister CVE HMS
RANEE was called upon to offer assistance and she stood by in case a
tow could be rigged in an attempt to pull her off. Two attempts were
made to pull NABOB free, the first at high water in the forenoon
with RANEE secured astern, HMCS ARMENTIERES on the starboard and
HMCS HARO on the port side; the operation was a failure. A second
attempt was made at 18:10 when the tide was again high. NABOB's crew
had worked hard to lighten the ship by pumping out three hundred
tons of oil and seven hundred tons of salt water from the petrol
tanks. The three ships strained on their towing hawsers while NABOB's engines ran at full astern and heaved in on her bow anchor;
again the attempt failed. RANEE sipped the towing line and returned
to Vancouver as two salvage tugs were on route to the scene; it was
to take another three days to re-float NABOB. No serious damage was
incurred but she was placed in dry dock on her return to Esquimalt.
HMS NABOB stuck fast on a sand bar, one of 850
squadron's Avengers flying over head. MS RANEE, in the
background, has arrived to lend assistance. Note that
the censor had erased the radar arrays from both
vessels. Photo: courtesy CFB Esquimalt Naval & Military
Museum Neg: VR2002.172.066
Maiden voyage: Ferry trip to Liverpool
February 6th HMS NABOB sailed for San Francisco, where she
embarked the twelve Avenger aircraft of 852 Naval Air Squadron on
had formed in the US at USNAS
Squantum, Massachusetts with 12
Avenger TBR MK. I aircraft on November 1sr 1943; the squadron
appears to have flown out to San Francisco in order to join NABOB at
the earliest opportunity, having nearly a month in which to operate
from the ship and work up both pilots and NABOB's air departments
before her deck was filled with non-flying airframes as deck cargo.
a short workup period off San Francisco NABOB rendezvoused with her
sister CVE HMS EMPRESS off San Diego on the 21st of February; the
two ships were to proceed to Norfolk together, but EMPRESS had
stripped a turbine and could not continue without repairs, so NABOB
was instructed to proceed to Balboa alone.
protest or 'near mutiny' occurred in HMS
NABOB while she was on route to New York; although she was a
Royal Navy ship she was one of only two ships to be jointly RN/RCN
manned, additionally she carried British Merchant Navy personnel in
the Engine Room and each group had different rates of pay and victualling scale. The fact that he RCN was better on both accounts
precipitated the dispute - first a brief 'lock-in' - refusal to work
- which was followed by a large number of desertions. The situation
was relived as a result of captain Lay, (a nephew of Prime Minister
Mackenzie King) bringing the dispute over living conditions on board
to the attention of the Admiralty; he was able was able to use the
'incidents' as evidence of the discontent and to secure concessions
from their Lordships.
NABOB transited the Panama Canal and steamed to New York, arriving
there on the on March19th, tying up at a quayside in Brooklyn. Here
NABOB embarked a ferry cargo of P51 Mustangs for delivery to the
HMS NABOB in March of 1944 alongside in Brooklyn while
embarking a ferry laod of P51s for the RAF
completion of loading NABOB sailed from New York on the 23rd,
joining the fast troop convoy UT 10 bound for Greenock. NABOB
unloaded her cargo of Mustangs to RAF Speke, Liverpool before
continuing on to the Clyde; the aircraft of 852 squadron were flown
off to RNAS
Machrihanish on April 6th. The next day NABOB was
allocated to Western Approaches Command and entered a Clyde shipyard
for a short period of defect rectification. Further work was needed
and NABOB returned to Liverpool for further repairs on the 19th of
April, she was to remain here until late June 1944.
completion of her repairs NABOB re-embarked 852 squadron from RNAS
Machrihanish on June 26th and proceeded to begin working up off
Belfast. 852 now included a fighter flight of 4 Wildcats bringing
their strength up to 16 aircraft. With the flying element of her
work up completed 852 squadron disembarked to RNAS
July 8th; they were to rejoin NABOB on the 14th, having moved back
Machrihanish and began preparing for anti shipping and mine
laying operations to be conducted off the coast of Norway.
First offensive operation: Operation 'OFFSPRING'
NABOB was loaned to the Home Fleet from August 1st 1944 and she
proceeded to the anchorage at Scapa Flow. On August 10th NABOB
operated with the fleet carrier INDEFATIGABLE and sister CVE
TRUMPETER in Operation 'OFFSPRING'. This was an operation laying
aerial mines in Haarhamsfjord and Lepsorev in what was to prove the
largest aircraft mine laying operation by elements of the Home
Fleet, 47 mines were successfully laid by the Avenger crews of 846
and 852 Naval Air Squadrons with 1 aircraft lost. 'OFFSPRING' also
saw fighter aircraft attacking ground targets, a WT station on Vigra
Island and 6 Bf-110 aircraft on the ground at Gossen airfield were
strafed and destroyed: 1 Firefly and 3 Seafires of the fighter
escort were lost.
Left the Avengers of 852squadron Right Avenger FN898
â€˜2Câ€™ after being stopped by the barriers on July 22nd
1944 Photos: courtesy R Pullinger.
Second offensive operation: Operation
was a three stage series of strikes against the German Battle Ship
TIRPITZ to take place between the 21st and 28th of August 1944. This
operation was to see 247 sorties of Barracudas, Hellcats and
Corsairs launched from four carriers, VICTORIOUS, FURIOUS, TRUMPETER
and STRIKER. NABOB and 852 were tasked with providing ASW cover for
the task force. For this operation NABOB embarked three
Avengers from 856 naval air squadron from RNAS
Ireland on the 18th.
August 23, 1944, the day after being torpedoed and
limpimg back to Scapa Flow; NABOB has stopped to make a second crew transfer of 205 to the HMCS Algonquin by boat. TRUMPETER stands by. Photo: courtesy R Pullinge
afternoon of August 22nd 1944 NABOB, in company with TRUMPETER, had
been detached from the larger force to provide fuel for 3 of the
escorting destroyers, at a position 120m WNW of North Cape, in the
Barents Sea. At 17:15 NABOB was struck by a single acoustic torpedo
fired by U-354 which struck her on the starboard side, causing a
32-square foot hole abaft the engine room, below the waterline. She
began to take on water at an alarming rate; within minutes NABOB was
listing to Starboard and was 15 feet down by the stern. All
electrical power had been lost and NABOB was dead in the water.
NABOB suffered 30 fatalities and a further 40 men injured. A second
torpedo was launched which struck HMS BICKERTON at 17:23, she
Canadian escort HMCS ALGONQUIN took 205 men off the carrier to
lighten the ship as the damage control parties worked to shore up
the hole and stem the flooding. It was some time before power was
restored and the ship was able to make way under her own steam,
three knots being the maximum speed she could safely make. NABOB
arrived at Scapa Flow on August 27th 1944 for emergency repairs; she
then sailed for Rosyth were she entered dry-dock. Here the remains
of fourteen of her dead were removed from the damaged compartments
before a full inspection of the damage was carried out.
August 23rd 1844: HMS NABOB still down at the stern
limping home after her damage control teams managed to
control the flooding. Photo: courtesy George
It was decided that her damage was beyond economical repair and the
decision was made to lay her up for the rest of the War, NABOB was
beached on September 30th 1944 after being de-stored but allocated to Rosyth Command in nominal reserve. Some of her
machinery was also stripped out to support her sister ships, her
main gearing being installed in the other Canadian manned CVE HMS
The damage below the water line is examined while NABOB
is in dry dock. It was later deemed that she was
beyond economical repair and she was decommissioned.
Photo: courtesy George Billing
Captain Horatio N. Lay OBE RCN, and Commander (E), Cecil I.
Hinchcliffe, RD RCN were awarded a Mention in Despatches "For good
service when his ship HMS NABOB was damaged."
was paid off on October 10th 1844 and CVE-41 was returned to US Naval custody at Rosyth;
she was stricken for
disposal on March 16th 1946. Her hulk was sold for scrapping in
Holland in March 1947 but she was resold and converted for merchant
service, emerging in 1952 as the German cargo liner MV NABOB,
a Merchant service cadet training ship owned by the German steamship
company. She was sold to a Panamanian company in 1967 and renamed
GLORY in 1968. She was finally scrapped in Taiwan beginning 6th
17 April 2017
Sources used in compiling this account:
Click here for a list of
Warrilow, B. (Ed) (1989) 'NABOB The First Canadian manned
Aircraft Carrier' Ontario, Escort Carriers Ass
Fold3.com various documents including;
Admiralty War Diaries
Norfolk Navy Yard War Diaries
Mew York Navy Yard War Diaries
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