Audacity class Escort Carrier
This page written by Bruce T. Swain
Name Builder Converted Commissioned
Audacity Bremer Vulcan 29 March 1939 17 June 1941

Few ships with such a short operational career (she lasted only 3 months in service) have had such a great influence on naval history as Audacity - the first of the escort carriers.
She had begun life in 1939 as the North German Lloyd’s cargo/passenger liner Hanover, a motor vessel of 5537 gross registered tonnage, very similar to the ships being converted by the Germans to disguised raiders. She was caught outside home waters by the outbreak of war, and captured in the West Indies in February 1940 while trying to run the blockade.
Her conversion to an escort carrier began in January 1941; at this stage she was known as Empire Audacity, and this mercantile form of name was not dropped until after she was commissioned : Mercantile ships working under the RN carried the prefix "Empire" in their name.
There was neither time nor space to give her a hangar or a lift, so her aircraft were parked on deck. Three arrestor wires and an open conning position on the starboard side were fitted, together with a minimal anti-aircraft armament.
As the principal air threat was perceived to be Condor long-range reconnaissance aircraft, her aircraft were all fighters. Hurricanes were propsed but not available, while the excellent and robust Grumman Martlet (the British designation for the F4-F Wildcat) was not only available but had been specifically designed for carrier operations. Eight aircraft were embarked, forming 802 Naval Air Squadron.
She sailed with her first convoy in September 1941, to Gibraltar. Her aircraft proved themselves by shooting down a Condor, fighting off a bombing attack, and forcing several U-boats to submerge by strafing them.
Two more convoys and two more Condors shot down found Audacity joining Commander Walker’s famous Second Support Group on 17 December 1941 to escort convoy HG-76, homeward bound from Gibraltar, for what was to be one of the classic convoy actions of the war. Audacity’s aircraft shot down 2 Condors, assisted in the sinking of a U-boat and played a vital part in the defence of the convoy against large numbers of submarines, for whom she was the priority target.
She conclusively proved the value of the escort carrier, and even before she was sunk improved types were already commissioning from American shipyards.

Dimensions Net displacement n/a Length 467'
Gross displacement 11,000 tons Beam 56'
Load n/a Draught 27’6"


Flight Deck Details
Flight Deck Length 460’ Upper Hangar Length n/a Lifts n/a
Flight Deck Width 56’ Lower Hangar Length n/a Catapults n/a


Performance & Propulsion
Range ? Speed 16 knots
Propulsion 2 x diesels @ 5200 hp , 1 shaft


Armament, Aircraft & Complement
Complement ? Officers & Ratings including Air Group
  • Gun
    • 1 x 4" HA/LA
    • 6 x 1 x 20mm
  • September 1941
    • 8 x Martlet fighters (802 RNAS)


Service History
  • Three convoys UK-Gibraltar-UK Sep.-Nov. 1941
  • joined Second Escort Group 17 December escorting convoy HG-76 from Gibraltar to U.K.
  • sunk by 3 torpedoes from U.751 21 dec. 1941.
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