HMS Chaser

HMS Chaser was an Attacker class escort carrier that had a short but successful career escorting Arctic convoys early in 1944 before serving with the Fleet Train of the British Pacific Fleet in 1945.

1943

The Chaser was built by Ingalls Shipbuilding of Pescagoula (Mississippi). She was launched on 15 January 1942, and completed on 9 April 1943.

In June 1943 No.845 Squadron embarked on the Chaser in the United States. The Chaser then provided part of the escort for Convoy HX.245, which departed on 25 June 1943 and reached Britain on 8 July 1943. The Chaser then spent some time being converted to UK standards of construction of equipment, while the third quarter of 1943 was spent preparing for anti U-boat duties.

On 6 November No.835 Squadron embarked on the Chaser with its Swordfish and Sea Hurricanes, before moving to the Nairana on 30 December.

1944

No.816 Squadron embarked on the Chaser at the start of 1944, with a mix of Swordfish and Wildcats. The carrier spent the first part of 1944 escorting Arctic convoys, starting with Convoy JW57 of February 1944.

In early March, while escorting the homebound convoy RA57, the Chaser had a particularly successful period. On 4 March 1944 her aircraft attacked U-472 off Bear Island, helping the destroyer HMS Onslaught sink her. On the follow two days Chaser's own aircraft scored two victories of their own. On 5 March U-366 was sunk north-west of Hammerfest and on 6 March 1944 U-973 was sunk to the north-west of Narvik.

This successful period came to an unfortunate end on 13 March when the Chaser was damaged when a gale drove her aground at Scapa Flow.

1945

By the start of 1945 the Chaser had been repaired and was ready to join the British Pacific Fleet. On 25 January 1945 No.899 Squadron and its Seafires embarked in Home Waters, and the carrier sailed for the Far East. It reached Ceylon in February, where No.899 disembarked, leaving the carrier without any aircraft of its own.

Once in the Far East she joined the Fleet Train of the British Pacific Fleet, serving as a ferry and replenishment carrier bringing supplies and replacement aircraft to the main fleet carriers. The Chaser was active in this role during the attacks on Sakishima Gunto and the Japanese Home Islands. By August 1945 she was part of Task Force 112, along with the Arbiter, Slinger, Speaker, Striker and Ruler. The task force supported the Fleet operations off Japan in early August, then returned to Manus.

The Chaser was returned to the US Navy on 12 May 1946, and sold off as a merchantman.

Squadrons

No.816 NAS

No.816 Squadron embarked on the Chaser with its Swordfish and Wildcats early in 1944. It remained onboard during the carrier's great period of success in March before disembarking in June 1944.

No.835 NAS

No.835 Squadron embarked on the Chaser with its Swordfish and Sea Hurricanes on 6 November 1943, before moving on to the Nairana on 30 December.

No.845 NAS

No.845 Squadron embarked on the Chaser to provide anti-submarine cover for a convoy from the United States to the United Kingdom in June 1943.

No.899 NAS

No.899 Squadron and its Seafires embarked on the Chaser on 25 January 1945. In February 1945 the squadron disembarked on Ceylon, where it became the Seafire pool.

Displacement (loaded)

10,200t standard
14,170t deep load

Top Speed

18.5kts

Range

27,300 miles at 11 kts

Length

491ft 7in to 496ft 1in oa

Armaments

18-24 aircraft
Two 4in/50 US Mk 9 guns in one two-gun mounting
Eight 40mm Bofors guns in four two-gun mountings
Twenty 20mm Oerlikon in eight twin and four single mountings

Crew complement

646

Launched

15 January 1942

Completed

9 April 1943

Returned to US

1946

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (28 July 2010), HMS Chaser , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_HMS_Chaser.html

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