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Modification and alterations necessary

All of the new aircraft carriers built for transfer to the Royal Navy required modification and alteration in order to conform to Admiralty requirements; British dockyards were at full capacity and could only handle four out of the twenty-three that formed the second batch of Bogue class carriers being supplied under the Lend-lease agreement. The Canadian Government agreed to fund the necessary work in a Canadian yard, enabling the 18 ships to be operational on leaving the Pacific for the UK. The contract was awarded to the Burrard Dry-Dock Co Ltd of North Vancouver; the completed vessels arriving there from Portland and Seattle at a steady rate of one or two a month starting in July 1943.

 

Hangar modifications, May 1944: View of the interior of the hangar looking towards the forward lift work is under way to install fire screens to isolate the hangar.. Image: e000762201 Ronny Jaques / National Film Board of Canada. Photothèque /Library and Archives Canada
 

Hangar modifications, May 1944: Seen form the flight deck looking down the forward lift well, one of the new fire screens is tested to isolate the hangar.. Image: e000762209 Ronny Jaques / National Film Board of Canada. Photothèque /Library and Archives Canada
Hangar modifications, May 1944: New torpedo storage racks being put to the test using dummies. Image: e000762190 Ronny Jaques / National Film Board of Canada. Photothèque /Library and Archives Canada

 

Hangar modifications, May 1944: View of the forward lift area of the hangar seen from the flight deck. Image: e000762564 Ronny Jaques / National Film Board of Canada. Photothèque /Library and Archives Canada Canada

 

 A tight schedule

Planning allowed for 45 day programme with as many as 6 ships in hand at one time, the ships moving through the yard from berth to berth as specific tasks were completed. This created a serious problem initially as power was only available at two of the eight berths, towards the end of the programme this number had risen to four.

The work entailed 150 separate modifications which included extending the flight deck by 15 feet at the stern, and making major changes to the aviation fuel stowage and hangar safety measures. None of the work carried out at Vancouver was designed to equip the CVE for any specific role; all the vessels were delivered as ‘general purpose’ carriers able to operate American Torpedo Bombers and fighter aircraft that were in use with the Royal Navy Modification into the Assault and ASW specific roles was carried out in the UK after delivery.
 

Flight deck extension, May 1944: Removal of the original round0down in preparation for fitting its extension. This is probably REAPER in berth 5. Image: e000762205 Ronny Jaques / National Film Board of Canada. Photothèque /Library and Archives Canada
 

Flight deck extension, May 1944; PATROLLER is in berth 3, nearest the camera, with the extension half done while THANE is in berth 4, her extension has been completed. Image: e000762205 Ronny Jaques / National Film Board of Canada. Photothèque /Library and Archives Canada
Installing twin Oerlikon gun mounts in place of single ones, May 1944: there are four sets of guns in each battery mounted along the deck edge, on either side of the ship. Image: e000762199 Ronny Jaques / National Film Board of Canada. Photothèque /Library and Archives Canada

 

Installing twin Oerlikon gun mounts in place of single ones, May 1944: Single twin mounts are installed on either side of the bow. Image: e000762563 Ronny Jaques / National Film Board of Canada. Photothèque /Library and Archives Canada Canada

 

 Low Pressure Turbines

Work on the first ten vessels was to take far longer than the planned 45 day rotation; this delay was caused by defective Low Pressure Turbine Rotors. Repairs entailed the Turbine Rotor being removed and sent to the makers, Messrs. Allis Chalmers in Milwaukee, for partial re-blading, returned to Vancouver and refitted. On average this operation required at least four weeks. In later ships the alterations to the turbines were done by the U.S. Shipbuilders.

Dry Docking

All the CVE’s required dry-docking, and initially all were to be fitted with Asdic equipment and additional sea valves; the first ten ships were docked using the Floating Dock at Burrards Dry-Dock, North Yard. This work was done in the middle of the programme so these ships, which were awaiting replacement LP turbines, had to be moved between yards by tugs. From ARBITER onwards the fitting of Asdic was cancelled and the rotor issued had been corrected before leaving the builder’s yards; these ships were docked at the RCN naval base at Esquimalt after the Burrards work had been finished.

A 55 Day Schedule

In April 1944, instructions were received to remove all the single Oerlikon Guns on the Gallery Deck and foc’sle deck, and substitute fourteen Twin Mountings. This affected the last five ships PUNCHER, REAPER, THANE, PATROLLER and RANEE and the programme was extended by 10 days; the increased time was made full use of by completing the majority of the items which had originally been cancelled.
 
 

HMS NABOB in the floating dock at Burrard’s North Yard, she was docked between the 24th and the 27th of November 1943. Images: VR995.30.08 & VR995.30.22 copyright CFB Esquimalt Naval & Military Museum.

 

Ships modified by Burrard Dry-Dock Co.

 

Ship

Name

Due

 Vancouver

Arrived

Vancouver

Work

started

Work

completed

Days to

complete

 Notes

CVE 35

AMEER

18-Jul-43

9-Jul-43

22-Jul-43

18-Oct-43*
19-Oct-43†

89

LP Rotor despatched 10 Sep
LP Rotor received 24-Sep

CVE 33

ATHELING

1-Aug-43

31-Jul-43

1-Aug-43

28-Oct-43*†

89

LP Rotor despatched 17 Sep
LP Rotor received 7-Oct

CVE 36

BEGUM

15-Aug-43

1-Aug-43

4-Aug-43

25-Nov-43*
2-Dec-43†

114

LP Rotor despatched 24 Sep
LP Rotor received 9-Nov

CVE 38 Ω

EMPRESS

1-Oct-43

12-Aug-43

30-Aug-43

6-Dec-43*
27-Dec-43†

99

LP Rotor despatched 10 Oct
LP Rotor received {ex CVE 41}9-Nov

CVE 43

SHAH

15-Oct-43

17-Oct-43

18-Oct-43

11-Dec-43

55

LP Rotor despatched 15 Oct
LP Rotor received 14-Nov

CVE 41

NABOB

1-Nov-43

10-Sep-32

1-Nov-43

21-Dec-43*
19-Jan944†

51

LP Rotor despatched 9 Oct,
LP Rotor received {ex CVE 38} 27-Dec

CVE 42 Ω

PREMIER

15-Nov-43

18-Nov-43

19-Nov-43

9-Jan-44*
14-Jan-44†

53
(48 - holidays)

LP Rotor despatched ?
LP Rotor received 3-Jan

CVE 46

RANEE
See last entry

19-Nov-43

?

?

?

?

Received minimal modifications to bring her to operational status for aircraft ferrying. Sailed from Esquimalt for San Francisco 4-Feb-44

CVE 40

SPEAKER

30-Nov-43

7-Dec-43

8-Dec-43 

25-Jan-44

49
(45 - holidays)

LP Rotor despatched 22 -Nov
LP Rotor received 4-Jan

CVE 49 Ω

QUEEN

15-Dec-43

16-Dec-43

17-Dec-43

7-Feb-44

49
(45 - holidays) 

 

CVE 50

RULER

31-Dec-43

29-Dec-43

3-Jam-44

19-Feb-44

48

 

CVE 51 Ω

ARBITER

15-Jam-44

17-Jam-44

18-Jam-44

2-Mar-44

45

Dry docked at Esquimalt 13 to 16-Mar-44

CVE 45

RAJAH

31-Jam-44

1-Feb-44

2-Feb-44

31-Mar-44

45

Dry docked at Esquimalt 20 to 23-Mar-44

CVE 52

SMITER

14-Feb-44

14-Feb-44

15-Feb-44

31-Mar-44

47
(45 - holidays) 

Dry docked at Esquimalt 1 to 4-Apr-44

CVE 47 Ω

TROUNCER

29-Feb-44

21-Feb-44

29-Feb-44

16-Apr-44

47
(45 - holidays)

Dry docked at Esquimalt 16 to 19-Apr-44

CVE 53

PUNCHER

15-Mar-44 

28-Feb-44 

15-Mar-44

8-May-44

55

 

CVE 54

REAPER

31-Mar-44

21-Mar-44

31-Mar-44

24-May-44

55

 

CVE 48

THANE

15-Apr-44

10-Apr-44

15-Apr-44

8-Jun-44

55
 

Dry docked at Esquimalt 10 to 14-Jun-44

CVE 44

PATROLLER

30-Apr-44

1-May-44

2-May-44

28-Jun-44

58 *
(55 - holiday
and dry docking)

Should have arrived in Vancouver in October, between SHAH & NABOB but instead undertook a ferry voyage to India. After limited alteration and working-up in the Seattle area, she sailed on 22-Nov-43.

CVE 46

RANEE

18-May-44

14-May-44

15-May-44

12-Jul-44

59 *
(54 days
- Holiday
& 1st Dry-dock)

Released from ferry duty returned to Vancouver to complete alterations.
Dry docked at Esquimalt 23 to 26-Jun-44. 2nd docking to complete Asdic 14 to 15-Jul-44

Ω Fully operational on arrival * Date alterations completed. † Date LP Rotor installation completed
Thanks to Mr. David Weaver, author of ‘The History of HMS Queen – A World War II Lend Lease Escort Aircraft Carrier’ for sharing his research into the actives of the Burrard Dry-Dock Co

 

 

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