HMS Tracker

HMS Tracker was an Attacker class escort carrier that was one of the few members of her class to be used extensively on convoy escort duties, before spending the first part of 1945 acting as a ferry carrier for the US Navy. She was built by the Seattle-Tacoma Shipbuilding Corp, was launched in March 1942 and completed in January 1943, sailing around the US coast to reach the east coast by April.

1943

Fairey Swordfish on HMS Tracker
Fairey Swordfish
on HMS Tracker

In April 1943 the Tracker was used by No.845 Squadron for deck landing training off Quonset Point (Rhode Island). On 30 April she left New York to ferry USAAF aircraft to North Africa, and by July had reached a British port.

In the third quarter of 1943 the Tracker escorted two convoys as the only carrier (including HX.258) and one with the Biter. On 6 November, while escorting a convoy across the Atlantic, aircraft from the Tracker helped HM sloops Woodcock and Starling sink U-226.

1944

At the start of 1944 the Tracker was used to escort Gibraltar convoys.

On 16 February Biter and Tracker were escorting convoy OS.68 when it was attacked by Ju.290s armed with glide bombs. The Tracker was able to direct a Coastal Command Beaufighter onto one Ju.290, while Wildcats from the Biter shot the engine off a second, forcing it to crash into the sea.

In March-April 1944 the Tracker escorted Russian convoys, claiming two U-boats at the start of April. On 1 April U-355 was sunk by aircraft from No.826 Squadron somewhere to the south of Bear Island, while on 3 April aircraft from No.826 along with aircraft from No.819 Squadron on Activity sank U-288 in the Barents Sea.

In June 1944 Pursuer, Tracker and Emperor provided fighter cover for support groups operating in the south west approaches, protecting the D-Day fleets against the threat of U-boat attack from the French Atlantic ports.

During the period May-July 1944 the Tracker was one of six escort carriers (Vindex, Nairana, Biter, Striker, Emperor and Tracker) that spent a total of 58 days at sea performing normal anti-submarine activities alongside the A/S Escort Groups, which spend much of this period protecting the flanks of the D-Day landings.

On 3 June 1944 the Tracker was damaged in a collision. No.846 Squadron was taken off while the carrier was repaired, and was replaced by No.853 Squadron in September 1944. Tracker, Nairana and Vindex were used to escort the outbound Russian convoy JW.61, which arrived safely on 22 Octo, and then the home-bound convoy RA.61, which reached home ports safely on 8 November.

1945

Early in 1945 the Tracker was one of a number of British escort carriers lend to the US Navy, where they served as ferry carriers, moving US Naval aircraft but with British crews. In July 1945 the Tracker was returned to Royal Navy control.

The Tracker was returned to the US Navy in November 1945 and sold as a merchantman.

Squadrons

No.816 NAS

No.816 Squadron embarked on Tracker for North Atlantic convoy duty and disembarked early in 1944.

No.845 NAS

No.845 Squadron was onboard for deck landing training in April 1943.

No.846 NAS

No.846 Squadron embarked on Tracker on 4 January 1944 with its Avengers and Wildcats and remained with her until she was damaged in a collision on 3 June 1944.

No.853 NAS

No.853 Squadron embarked on Tracker with its Avenger IIs and Wildcat VIs on 12 September 1944, and transferred to HMS Queen on 27 January 1945.

Displacement (loaded)

10,200t standard
14,170t deep load

Top Speed

18.5kts

Range

 

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

Crew complement

646

Launched

7 March 1942

Completed

31 January 1943

Returned to US

November 1945

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (15 September 2010), HMS Tracker , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_HMS_Tracker.html

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