'Ruler' Class

 Description Shape:
Standard, circular.
Blazon (Heraldic description)
On a blue field: A dexter gauntlet, proper, grasping a baton ensigned to the dexter with a crown, and held fesswise, gold.
RULER: One who rules or governs. In heraldry the baton is a symbol of authority and a badge of office, title or rank; the crown indicates a royal ruler. The gauntlet is a glove of mail and this signifies one who is armed and prepared to do battle.

For explanations of heraldic terms see the Badges & Honours page.



"Through vigilance"


Pennant Numbers:


D72 (Atlantic)

R311 /A731 (Pacific)



Battle Honours:







Builder: Seattle-Tacoma Shipbuilding Co. Tacoma, Washington

Displacement: 15,390 tons

Length (Overall): 494ft 9in

Beam:  69ft 6in

Flight deck: 450ft x 80ft wood covered mild steel plate

Propulsion: 2 Foster Wheeler boilers; 1 x Allis-Chalmers geared turbine driving 1 shaft

Speed:  16 knots

A/C Capacity: 20

Hangar: 260ft x 62ft x 18ft

A/C lifts: 2, Aft 34ft long x 42ft wide; forward 42ft long x 34ft wide

Arrestor wires: 9 with 3 barriers

Catapult: 1 H4C hydraulic

Armament: 2 single 5in USN Mk 12, 8 twin 40mm Bofors, 14 twin 20rnm Oerlikon, 7 single 20mm Oerlikon

Crew Complement: 646


Commanding Officers:


Capt. H.P. Currey RN

Nov 43 - Jan 46





Dec 44-Sep 45
Hellcat I/II


Jan-Mar 45
Fiefly I



Jul 45

Sea Otter I



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A History of HMS RULER


HMS RULER bearing the pennant number A731 in Sydney Harbour 1945: Photo: Paul Silverstone N.Y.

Laid down 25 March 1943, at Seattle-Tacoma Shipbuilding Co. Tacoma, Washington, a C3-S-A1 type freighter Maritime Commission hull number 261, Seattle-Tacoma hull number 45; purchased by the US navy to be the USS 'ST. JOSEPH ACV-50 (later CVE-50 from July 13th 1943). Whilst still under construction it had been decided that AVG-50 was to be transferred to the Admiralty on loan on her completion as an aircraft carrier. CVE-50 was launched on 21 August 1943 by her sponsor Mrs. W.W. Smyth. She was transferred to the United Kingdom under Lend Lease and commissioned into RN service as HMS RULER (D72) 22 December 1943, Captain H.P. Currey RN in command.

After completing her guilder's sea trials Ruler sailed for Vancouver Island, British Colombia, entering Burrard Drydock to begin modification to bring equipment to RN standards and to outfit her as a transport carrier.

On completion of her work-up and short crew familiarisation period HMS Ruler sailed for the Panama Canal, and then on to Norfolk, Virginia, to embark a ferry load of Hellcats and Corsairs on April 20th 1944, disembarking them at to RNAS Speke, Liverpool on 6 May 144. After quick turn-around Ruler returned to the US, this time to Brooklyn, New York to embark more stores and a second ferry load of Avenger and Hellcat aircraft, loading between the 20th & 23rd of May 1944. Arriving in the UK on June 11th, the aircraft were again disembarked to RNAS Speke.

Ruler returned to the US for a another ferry load in October 1944, loading Hellcats and Corsairs at Norfolk, Virginia, between October 20th & 29th, arriving at Greenock to unload on November 18th.

Ruler joined the British pacific Fleet as a CAP/Strike carrier from March 1945; her RN designation changed to R311 for service in the Pacific, but she carried A731 instead.



Bow view of the HMS RULER docked with her flight deck packed with snow-covered Grumman Hellcat fighters. © IWM (A 28796)

Prior to her departure for the Pacific Ruler worked up with the aircraft of 885 squadron operating out of RAF Ballyhalbert, conducting DLTs in the weeks leading up to Christmas 1944. 885 were assigned to Ruler for CAP/strike role, operating 18 Hellcats and 4 Avengers, and they continued working up after embarking on December 30th. Ruler embarked a second squadron, 1772, from RNARY Belfast, with 12 Firefly Is on January 20th for passage to Sydney.

HMS Ruler arrived in Australia in mid-March, disembarking both squadrons to RNAS Schofields, New South Wales, 1772 on the 18th and 885 following them on the 20th. Ruler re-embarked 885 on April 14th and proceeded to Manus, Admiralty Islands, disembarking the aircraft to RNAS Ponam on April 31st., Rulers first operation was as CAP carrier for operations between May 6th and 27th, sailing from the forward area at Leyte, the Philippines on May 3rd. After four replenishment sessions with Task Force 57 she returned to Leyte with her escort HMS Quilliam, arriving at Leyte on May 27th before continuing on to Sydney where she arrived on June 5th..

Her second operational period was June 14th - 15th as part of operation 'INMATE' this time acting as a 'spare deck'. For this operation she carried a single Air Sea Rescue Walrus of 1701 squadron, but this aircraft was lost when it was blown overboard in a sudden squall. Ruler briefly re-embarked 885 on June 17th before a detachment of 12 returning to Ponam on the 19th. Ruler continued to operate the reduced squadron whilst operating as a replenishment carrier beginning on July 17th through to August 15th when hostilities ceased. Her main task was the periodic replenishment of airframes to the carriers operating strikes against the Japanese mainland, operating between Leyte, in the Philippines and the replenishment area south of Japan. 885 squadron parted company with Ruler on September 5th, joining the Fleet Carrier Indefatigable which was withdrawing to Australia.

HMS Ruler entered Tokyo Bay on August 31st with elements of the US and British fleets in preparation for the signing of the Japanese surrender which was signed on September 2nd. Ruler departed Tokyo Bay on September 13th bound for Sydney, carrying ex-POWs, After unloading at Sydney and loading personnel and stores she sailed for the UK on October 22nd.

HMS Ruler arrived in the Clyde for the last time on December 3rd 1945 and began de-storing in preparation for her return to the US Navy, She sailed From the Clyde on January 4th 1945 bound for Norfolk , Virginia.  CVE 50 was returned to US Navy custody on 29 January 1946, and was stricken for disposal 20 March 1946. Sold 31 May 1946 and subsequently scrapped.


A fuller account of this ships history will be added at some time in the future.



Content revised: 31 October 2021


Sources used in compiling this account:

Click here for a list of Primary sources


Additional sources:

Fold3.com various documents including;

Admiralty War Diaries

Norfolk Navy Yard War Diaries

Mew York Navy Yard War Diaries

Miscellaneous documents

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Comments (8)

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Topic: A History of H.M.S. RULER
1/5 (1)
William Lapsley
May 2018
William Lapsley (Frenchs Forest) says...
After defending HK and then spending 4yrs in Japanese POW camp. my father and his two brothers, were put on HMS Ruler, which was being being used to transport POW's from Japan to Sydney. His mother, younger brother and two sisters had previously been evacuated (in 1940) from Hong Kong (to Sydney) prior to the Japanese invasion. He described the voyage as being a wonderful experience. "We talked, ate, reminisced and played deck games with each other and the crew". "We had just started to re-discover life outside a prison camp". NB: My father is now 97yrs old an lives with me in Frenchs Forest, Sydney, AUSTRALIA.
Aug 2015
christine says...
My Father Jack Duckettserved on board
HMS RULER at this time.
Stephen Davies
May 2014
First Poster
Stephen Davies (CARDIFF) says...
My grandfather, William John Davies(still with us) was a plumbers mate on this ship. The last two port holes towards the back was his workshop. I've been trying to locate me some pictures of crew and ship ,any ideas how I can get my hands on something as I'd like to do something nice for him.Smile
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