HMS Arbiter

HMS Arbiter was a Ruler class escort carrier that had a short service carrier with the Royal Navy, becoming a replenishment carrier in the British Pacific Fleet in the summer of 1945. The Arbiter was launched on 9 September 1943 as the USS St. Simon(CVE-51), completed on the last day of 1943, and received her first aircraft on 31 May 1944 when No.853 Squadron joined in preparation for the Atlantic crossing.


The Arbiter crossed the Atlantic from the US in July 1944, ferrying Nos.863 and 1820 Squadrons to the UK. No.1820 was one of the few British squadrons to receive the Helldiver. This aircraft was not accepted by the Fleet Air Arm and the squadron disbanded.


No.1843 Squadron and its Corsair IIs embarked on the Arbiter on 14 February 1945 as part of the 10th Naval Fighter Wing. The Arbiter then sailed to Australia, where on 30 June No.1843 joined the 3rd Carrier Air Group. During this period four single Bofors guns were added to the anti-aircraft armament.

The Arbiter became a replenishment carrier in the fleet train, and was with the fleet by June, when it took part in refuelling the main carrier force. This revealed the one big weakness of the British fleet train in the Pacific - the lack of high speed oil tankers. Arbiter took an active part in the operation by directly refuelling the fleet's aircraft, and it was later suggested that she be given the equipment to refuel the fleet carriers directly. Arbiter was still a replenishment carrier on VJ Day and returned to American control by the end of 1945 and was converted into a merchant ship.


No.853 NAS

No.853 Squadron embarked on the Arbiter on 31 May 1944 to cross the Atlantic, before disembarking once in the UK.

No.1820 NAS

No.1820 Squadron joined the Arbiter on 5 July 1944 to cross the Atlantic with its Helldivers. The squadron was disbanded after the failure of that aircraft.

No.1843 NAS

No.1843 Squadron embarked on the Arbiter with her Corsair IIs on 14 February 1945 in the UK, as part of the 10th Naval Fighter Wing. On arrival in the Far East the squadron became part of the 3rd Carrier Air Group.

Displacement (loaded)

11,400t standard
15,390t deep load

Top Speed



495ft 3in-496ft 8in oa


18-24 aircraft
Two 5in/38 US Mk 12 in two single mountings
Sixteen 40mm Bofors guns in eight double mountings
Twenty seven to thirty five 20mm cannon

Crew complement



9 September 1942


31 December 1943



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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (22 July 2010), HMS Arbiter ,

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