[Unofficial Badge - no official design issued]

 

"Swift and Bold" Photo by David J Freeman

Unofficial Motto:

"CELER ET AUDAX"
Swift and Daring

 


Pennant Number:


D77

 


Battle Honours:


Norway 1944

 


Specifications: 


Builder:

Seattle-Tacoma Shipbuilding Co.
Tacoma, Washington

 


Displacement:

15,390 tons


length (Overall):

 494ft 9in


Beam:

 69 ft 6 in


Speed:

 18 knots


Crew Complement:

646


A/C Capacity:

20


Commanding Officers:


Cdr. L.R. Romer RN

OIC

Aug - Oct 43

 

***

Capt. H.N. Lay OBE RCN

Oct 43 - Aug 44

 


Squadrons:


852
Feb-Aug 44
Avenger I/Wildcat V

 

856 det (3)
Aug 44
Avenger II

 

 

Click image to see more photos

 

 

A History of HMS NABOB

 

Aerial view of HMS NABOB in March of 1944 off the coast of California during her post modification work up with Avengers of 852 squadron..

 

HMS NABOB was a ‘Ruler’ class escort carrier (US Bogue class) built in the USA at Seattle-Tacoma Shipbuilding Co. Tacoma, Washington. Her keel was laid down on October 20th 1942 as a C3-S-A1 type freighter, Maritime Commission hull number 252, Seattle-Tacoma hull number 36. The hull was purchased by the US navy to be completed as the USS EDISTO ACV-41 (designation later changed to CVE - 41).

She was launched on March 9th 1943, 140 days after her keel was laid. Whilst still under construction it had been decided that CVE - 41 was to be transferred to the Admiralty on loan upon her completion, Cdr. L.R. Romer RN was appointed as Officer in Charge on August 15rh 1943. After spending 182 days outfitting the ship was ready for delivery on September 7th 943; CVE – 41 took a total of 322 days to complete.

CVE - 41was transferred to Royal Navy custody at Tacoma. Washington on September 7th 1943 and was accepted on behalf of the Admiralty by Cdr. L.R. Romer RN. The White Ensign was hoisted and the ship was renamed HMS NABOB, pennant number D77.

After completing builders and Admiralty acceptance trials CVE – 41, manned by a small steaming party under the command of Cdr. Romer, preceded to Vancouver, Canada, arriving at LaPointe Pier on the 10th. CVE 41 was one of 19 escort carriers to be modified to meet Admiralty requirements by the Burrard Dry Dock Co. Ltd., North Vancouver, British Columbia. While in Vancouver she was to receive her full crew compliment and work up ready for beginning her active service.


Modification and preparation to enter service:

On October 15th Cdr. Romer was relieved by Capt. Horatio Nelson Lay OBE RCN who assumed command; NABOB's ship's company, excluding the Air Department and squadrons, was provided by the Royal Canadian Navy. Out of her crew of 750 men, 450 were from Canada. NABOB was still a British naval vessel however; the terms of the lend-lease agreement under which she was supplied prohibited her transfer to the Canadian government.

HMS NABOB’s alterations and modification were started by Burrard Drydock on November 1stm these would bring the ship up to RN standards and outfit her as an Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) carrier. On November 24th the ship was placed in Drydock for the fitting of Asdic equipment and sea cocks, the work taking 3 days to complete. Electrical work was sub-contracted and completed by Hume & Rumble.

The alteration/modification work was completed on December 21st 1943, having taken 51 Days – extra time at Vancouver was required however because part of the engine room machinery, the Low Pressure turbine had to be removed and re-milled at Allis Chambers’ factory in Milwaukee. The rotor was detached on October 10th however it was not until December 27th that a replacement rotor (ex CVE 38) had been received. The work on the Rotor was completed on January 13th 1944 and after a dock trial NABOB left Burrads terminal for a mooring in the stream before moving to Esquimalt on the 24th to begin working up.

On January 25th NABOB ran aground at near top speed, while operating in the Georgia Strait, between Vancouver Island and the Pacific coast of British Columbia. She was taking advantage of the aircraft of 850 squadron based at RCAF Sea Island, and had arranged a day of flight operations to put the ship through its paces. While steaming at speed into wind to receive aircraft NABOB had run aground on an uncharted sand bar and stuck fast.

Her sister CVE HMS RANEE was called upon to offer assistance and she stood by in case a tow could be rigged in an attempt to pull her off. Two attempts were made to pull NABOB free, the first at high water in the forenoon with RANEE secured astern, HMCS ARMENTIERES on the starboard and HMCS HARO on the port side; the operation was a failure. A second attempt was made at 18:10 when the tide was again high. NABOB’s crew had worked hard to lighten the ship by pumping out three hundred tons of oil and seven hundred tons of salt water from the petrol tanks. The three ships strained on their towing hawsers while NABOB’s engines ran at full astern and heaved in on her bow anchor; again the attempt failed. RANEE sipped the towing line and returned to Vancouver as two salvage tugs were on route to the scene; it was to take another three days to re-float NABOB. No serious damage was incurred but she was placed in dry dock on her return to Esquimalt.

 

HMS NABOB stuck fast on a sand bar, one of 850 squadron’s Avengers flying over head. MS RANEE, in the background, has arrived to lend assistance. Note that the censor had erased the radar arrays from both vessels. Photo: courtesy CFB Esquimalt Naval & Military Museum Neg: VR2002.172.066


Maiden voyage: Ferry trip to Liverpool

On February 6th HMS NABOB sailed for San Francisco, where she embarked the twelve Avenger aircraft of 852 Naval Air Squadron on February 11th.

852 had formed in the US at USNAS Squantum, Massachusetts with 12 Avenger TBR MK. I  aircraft on November 1sr 1943; the squadron appears to have flown out to San Francisco in order to join NABOB at the earliest opportunity, having nearly a month in which to operate from the ship and work up both pilots and NABOB’s air departments before her deck was filled with non-flying airframes as deck cargo.

After a short workup period off San Francisco NABOB rendezvoused with her sister CVE HMS EMPRESS off San Diego on the 21st of February; the two ships were to proceed to Norfolk together, but EMPRESS had stripped a turbine and could not continue without repairs, so NABOB was instructed to proceed to Balboa alone.

A mass protest or ‘near mutiny’ occurred in HMS NABOB while she was on route to New York’. Although she was a Royal Navy ship she was one of only two ships to be jointly RN/RCN manned, additionally she carried British Merchant Navy personnel in the Engine Room and each group had different rates of pay and victualling scale. The fact that he RCN was better on both accounts precipitated the dispute - first a brief ‘lock-in’ – refusal to work - which was followed by a large number of desertions. The situation was relived as a result of captain Lay, (a nephew of Prime Minister Mackenzie King) bringing the dispute over living conditions on board to the attention of the Admiralty; he was able was able to use the ‘incidents’ as evidence of the discontent and to secure concessions from their Lordships.

HMS NABOB transited the Panama Canal and steamed to New York, arriving there on the on March19th, tying up at a quayside in Brooklyn. Here NABOB embarked a ferry cargo of P51 Mustangs for delivery to the RAF.

 

 HMS NABOB in March of 1944 alongside in Brooklyn while embarking a ferry laod of P51s for the RAF

 On completion of loading  NABOB sailed from New York on the 23rd, joining the fast troop convoy UT 10 bound for Greenock. NABOB unloaded her cargo of Mustangs to RAF Speke, Liverpool before continuing on to the Clyde; the aircraft of 852 squadron were flown off to RNAS Machrihanish on April 6th. The next day NABOB was allocated to Western Approaches Command and entered a Clyde shipyard for a short period of defect rectification. Further work was needed and NABOB returned to Liverpool for further repairs on the 19th of April, she was to remain here until late June 1944.

On completion of her repairs NABOB re-embarked 852 squadron from RNAS Machrihanish on June 26th and proceeded to begin working up off Belfast. 852 now included a fighter flight of 4 Wildcats bringing their strength up to 16 aircraft. With the flying element of her work up completed 852 squadron disembarked to RNAS Abbotsinch on July 8th; they were to rejoin NABOB on the 14th, having moved back to Machrihanish and began preparing for anti shipping and mine laying operations to be conducted off the coast of Norway.

First offensive operation: Operation ‘OFFSPRING’

HMS NABOB was loaned to the Home Fleet from August 1st 1944 and she proceeded to the anchorage at Scapa Flow. On August 10th NABOB operated with the fleet carrier INDEFATIGABLE and sister CVE TRUMPETER in Operation ‘OFFSPRING’. This was an operatioon laying aerial mines in Haarhamsfjord and Lepsorev in what was to prove the largest aircraft mine laying operation by elements of the Home Fleet, 47 mines were successfully laid by the Avenger crews of 846 and 852 Naval Air Squadrons with 1 aircraft lost. ‘OFFSPRING’ also saw fighter aircraft attacking ground targets, a WT station on Vigra Island and 6 Bf-110 aircraft on the ground at Gossen airfield were strafed and destroyed: 1 Firefly and 3 Seafires of the fighter escort were lost.
 

Left the Avengers of 852squadron Right Avenger FN898 ‘2C’ after being stopped by the barriers on July 22nd 1944 Photos: courtesy R Pullinger.

 

Second offensive operation: Operation ‘GOODWOOD’

Operation ‘GOODWOOD’ was a three stage series of strikes against the German Battle Ship TIRPITZ to take place between the 21st and 28th of August 1944. This operation was to see 247 sorties of Barracudas, Hellcats and Corsairs launched from four carriers, VICTORIOUS, FURIOUS, TRUMPETER and STRIKER. NABOB and 852 were tasked with providing ASW cover for the task force.  For this operation NABOB embarked three Avengers from 856 naval air squadron from RNAS Eglinton, Northern Ireland on the 18th.

 

August 22nd 1944: Minutes after being struck by a torpedo HMS NABOB is dead in the water, listing to starboard and down at the stern as her damage control teams try to stop the water flooding in. Her sister CVE HMS TRUMPETER and the Canadian destroyer HMCS ALGONQUIN stand by to offer assistance. Photo: courtesy R Pullinge

 

On the afternoon of Aug 22nd 1944 NABOB, in company with TRUMPETER, had been detached from the larger force to provide fuel for 3 of the escorting destroyers, at a position 120m WNW of North Cape, in the Barents Sea. At 17:15 NABOB was struck by a single acoustic torpedo fired by U-354 which struck her on the starboard side, causing a 32-square foot hole abaft the engine room, below the waterline. She began to take on water at an alarming rate; within minutes NABOB was listing to Starboard and was 15 feet down by the stern. All electrical power had been lost and NABOB was dead in the water. NABOB suffered 30 fatalities and a further 40 men injured. A second torpedo was launched which struck HMS BICKERTON at 17:23, she quickly sank.

The Canadian escort HMCS ALGONQUIN took 205 men off the carrier to lighten the ship as the damage control parties worked to shore up the hole and stem the flooding. It was some time before power was restored and the ship was able to make way under her own steam, three knots being the maximum speed she could safely make. NABOB arrived at Scapa Flow on August 27th 1944 for emergency repairs; she then sailed for Rosyth were she entered dry-dock. Here the remains of fourteen of her dead were removed from the damaged compartments before a full inspection of the damage was carried out.

 

August 23rd 1844: HMS NABOB still down at the stern limping home after her damage control teams managed to control the flooding.  Photo: courtesy George Billing


Disposal:
It was decided that her damage was beyond economical repair and the decision was made to lay her up for the rest of the War, NABOB was beached after being de-stored and decommissioned on September 30th 1944 but allocated to Rosyth Command in nominal reserve. Some of her machinery was also stripped out to support her sister ships, her main gearing being installed in the other Canadian manned CVE HMS PUNCHER.
 

The damage below the water line is examined while NABOB is in dry dock.  It was later deemed that she was beyond economical repair and she was decommissioned. Photo: courtesy George Billing

Captain Horatio N. Lay OBE RCN, and Commander (E), Cecil I. Hinchcliffe, RD RCN were awarded a Mention in Despatches "For good service when his ship HMS NABOB was damaged."

CVE – 41 was returned to US Naval custody at Rosyth and stricken for disposal on March 16th 1946. Her hulk was sold for scrapping in Holland in March 1947 but she was resold and converted for merchant service, emerging in 1952 as the German cargo liner MV NABOB, a Merchant service cadet training ship owned by the German steamship company. She was sold to a Panamanian company in 1967 and renamed GLORY in 1968. She was finally scrapped in Taiwan beginning 6th December 1977.

 


Content revised: October 2012

Sources used in compiling this account:

Brown, D. (1974) ‘Carrier Operations in World War 2 – vol 1 the Royal Navy’ Shepperton, Ian Allen Ltd.

Hobbs, D. (2003) 'Royal Navy Escort Carriers' Liskeard, Maritime Books

Poolman, K. (1988) 'Allied Escort Carriers of World War Two in Action' London, Blandford Press

Sturtivant, R. & Burrows, M. (1995) ‘Fleet Air Arm Aircraft 1939 to 1945’ Tonbridge Wells, Air Britain (Historians)

Sturtivant, R & Balance, T., (1994) ‘Squadrons of the Fleet Air Arm’ Tonbridge Wells, Air Britain (Historians)

Warrilow, B. (Ed) (1989) ‘NABOB The First Canadian manned Aircraft Carrier' Ontario, Escort Carriers Ass

Weaver, D. (2004) ‘The History of HMS Queen – A World War II Lend Lease Escort Aircraft Carrier' Hong Kong, D.G. Weaver.

British officers (including Commonwealth officers serving in British units) Part of WWII Unit Histories and Officers web site.

Casualty Lists of the Royal Navy and Dominion Navies, 1922-present A comprehensive resource listing service details of men and women killed in RN and RM service.

Convoy Web A comprehensive resource listing WW2 convoys and ships .

War Sailors Ships in Atlantic and miscellaneous convoys during WW2.

 

 Home page | go to the top

Comments

No comments yet.

Add Comment

 

  Click to refresh the page after posting your comment or to hide the form