HMS Albion (R07)
HMS Albion (R07) was a 22,000 ton Centaur-class
Centaur class aircraft carrier
The Centaur class of aircraft carriers of the British Royal Navy was the last of the light fleet carrier designs started during the closing years of World War II.-Ships In Class:HMS Centaur...

 light fleet carrier
Aircraft carrier
An aircraft carrier is a warship designed with a primary mission of deploying and recovering aircraft, acting as a seagoing airbase. Aircraft carriers thus allow a naval force to project air power worldwide without having to depend on local bases for staging aircraft operations...

 of the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...


Construction and modifications

She was built by Swan Hunter & Wigham Richardson Ltd
Swan Hunter
Swan Hunter, formerly known as "Swan Hunter & Wigham Richardson", was one of the best known shipbuilding companies in the world. Based in Wallsend, Tyne and Wear, the company was responsible for some of the greatest ships of the early 20th century — most famously, the RMS Mauretania which...

. Her keel was laid down in March 1944 and she was launched in May 1947. On 18 October 1949, she was under tow by tugs
A tugboat is a boat that maneuvers vessels by pushing or towing them. Tugs move vessels that either should not move themselves, such as ships in a crowded harbor or a narrow canal,or those that cannot move by themselves, such as barges, disabled ships, or oil platforms. Tugboats are powerful for...

 Beamish, Hendon and George V from Jarrow
Jarrow is a town in Tyne and Wear, England, located on the River Tyne, with a population of 27,526. From the middle of the 19th century until 1935, Jarrow was a centre for shipbuilding, and was the starting point of the Jarrow March against unemployment in 1936.-Foundation:The Angles re-occupied...

 to Rosyth
Rosyth is a town located on the Firth of Forth, three miles south of the centre of Dunfermline. According to an estimate taken in 2008, the town has a population of 12,790....

 when Albion was in collision with 4 nautical miles (7.4 km) from the Longstone Lighthouse
Longstone Lighthouse
Longstone Lighthouse was built and designed by Joseph Nelson in 1826, and was originally called the Outer Farne lighthouse.The site had a long history of need for a light. In the late 17th Century Sir John Clayton, and later, in 1755, Captain J. Blackett, requested a light for the island...

. Mayston sank, Albion had a 225 square feet (20.9 m²) hole in her stern and started to sink. The three tugs attempted to beach her near St Abbs Head but were hampered when Hector became disabled when a tow rope wrapped around her propellor. Tug was sent from Rosyth to assist and destroyer
In naval terminology, a destroyer is a fast and maneuverable yet long-endurance warship intended to escort larger vessels in a fleet, convoy or battle group and defend them against smaller, powerful, short-range attackers. Destroyers, originally called torpedo-boat destroyers in 1892, evolved from...

  arrived and took Hector on tow until her crew managed to clear the propellor. Albion was successfully berthed at Rosyth with 5 feet (1.5 m) of water in her engine room. She was scheduled for completion in 1951 but not fully completed until May 1954. During the night of 19–20 June 1954, helicopters from Albion assisted in the search for survivors of a Swissair
Swissair AG was the former national airline of Switzerland.It was formed from a merger between Balair and Ad Astra Aero , in 1931...

 aircraft that had ditched
1954 Swissair Convair CV-240 crash
The 1954 Swissair Convair CV-240 crash occurred on 19 June 1954 when a Swissair Convair CV-240 ditched in the English Channel off Folkestone, Kent having run out of fuel. Although all on board survived the ditching of the aircraft, three people drowned, as they could not swim and there were no...

 in the English Channel
English Channel
The English Channel , often referred to simply as the Channel, is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean that separates southern England from northern France, and joins the North Sea to the Atlantic. It is about long and varies in width from at its widest to in the Strait of Dover...

 off Folkestone
Folkestone is the principal town in the Shepway District of Kent, England. Its original site was in a valley in the sea cliffs and it developed through fishing and its closeness to the Continent as a landing place and trading port. The coming of the railways, the building of a ferry port, and its...

, Kent
Kent is a county in southeast England, and is one of the home counties. It borders East Sussex, Surrey and Greater London and has a defined boundary with Essex in the middle of the Thames Estuary. The ceremonial county boundaries of Kent include the shire county of Kent and the unitary borough of...

. After an initial work up with her air group, joined the Mediterranean Fleet in September that same year, becoming flagship of Flag Officer Aircraft Carriers.

Operational history

In 1956, after refitting at Portsmouth
Portsmouth is the second largest city in the ceremonial county of Hampshire on the south coast of England. Portsmouth is notable for being the United Kingdom's only island city; it is located mainly on Portsea Island...

, HMS Albion returned once again to the Mediterranean for operations relating to the Suez Crisis
Suez Crisis
The Suez Crisis, also referred to as the Tripartite Aggression, Suez War was an offensive war fought by France, the United Kingdom, and Israel against Egypt beginning on 29 October 1956. Less than a day after Israel invaded Egypt, Britain and France issued a joint ultimatum to Egypt and Israel,...

 where her air group struck key Egyptian airfields, and covered the paratroopers landings. In July 1958, Albion had a sample of what she would one day become, when she embarked 42 Commando Royal Marines, with all its vehicles and additional equipment to the Middle East
Middle East
The Middle East is a region that encompasses Western Asia and Northern Africa. It is often used as a synonym for Near East, in opposition to Far East...


Final fixed wing complement as embarked in 1959–60:
  • 806 sqn. 8 Sea Hawk
    Hawker Sea Hawk
    The Hawker Sea Hawk was a British single-seat jet fighter of the Fleet Air Arm , the air branch of the Royal Navy , built by Hawker Aircraft and its sister company, Armstrong Whitworth Aircraft. Although its origins stemmed from earlier Hawker piston-engined fighters, the Sea Hawk became the...

     FGA6 Fighter-Attack
  • 894 sqn. 12 Sea Venom FAW21 Night/All Weather Fighter
  • 849 sqn. D flt. 4 Skyraider
    A-1 Skyraider
    The Douglas A-1 Skyraider was an American single-seat attack aircraft that saw service between the late 1940s and early 1980s. It became a piston-powered, propeller-driven anachronism in the jet age, and was nicknamed "Spad", after a French World War I fighter...

     AEW1 Airborne Early Warning
  • 815 sqn. 8 Whirlwind HAS7 Helicopter Anti-Submarine Warfare
  • Ships Flight 1 Dragonfly
    Westland Dragonfly
    |-See also:-External links:* Westland entry in the database*...

     HR5 Helicopter Search and Rescue

The next two years saw her visit the Far East, Australia, New Zealand and the South Atlantic and Indian Oceans, before she returned to Portsmouth to pay off. She was considered as a replacement for the Australian carrier but was rejected and in January 1961 conversion begun for her to become a commando carrier. She recommissioned in 1962, training with 845 and 846 helicopter squadrons as well as 40 Commando Royal Marines before she joined the Far East Fleet. She was a vital asset in supporting operations ashore in Borneo during the Indonesian Confrontation. In 1967 she was part of the RN task force that covered the withdrawal from Aden
Aden is a seaport city in Yemen, located by the eastern approach to the Red Sea , some 170 kilometres east of Bab-el-Mandeb. Its population is approximately 800,000. Aden's ancient, natural harbour lies in the crater of an extinct volcano which now forms a peninsula, joined to the mainland by a...

, and in 1971 was part of another withdrawal of British forces, this time in Singapore
Singapore , officially the Republic of Singapore, is a Southeast Asian city-state off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, north of the equator. An island country made up of 63 islands, it is separated from Malaysia by the Straits of Johor to its north and from Indonesia's Riau Islands by the...

 and the disbandment of the Far East Fleet.

She sailed from Portsmouth in March 1971 for the Far East
Far East
The Far East is an English term mostly describing East Asia and Southeast Asia, with South Asia sometimes also included for economic and cultural reasons.The term came into use in European geopolitical discourse in the 19th century,...

, under the command of Captain James Jungius
James Jungius
Vice Admiral Sir James George Jungius KBE DL is a former Royal Navy officer who became Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic.-Naval career:...

 RN. She paid a brief visit to Ascension Island
Ascension Island
Ascension Island is an isolated volcanic island in the equatorial waters of the South Atlantic Ocean, around from the coast of Africa and from the coast of South America, which is roughly midway between the horn of South America and Africa...

 before visiting Durban
Durban is the largest city in the South African province of KwaZulu-Natal and the third largest city in South Africa. It forms part of the eThekwini metropolitan municipality. Durban is famous for being the busiest port in South Africa. It is also seen as one of the major centres of tourism...

 in April 1971. She was in Bombay from 3 to 6 May 1971 and, after a passage of nearly seven weeks the ship embarked 40 Commando Royal Marines off Changi
Changi is an area at the eastern end of Singapore. It is now the site of Singapore Changi Airport/Changi Air Base, Changi Naval Base and is also home to Changi Prison, site of the former Japanese Prisoner of War Camp during World War II which held Allied prisoners captured in Singapore and Malaysia...

 for an exercise (set as a counter-terrorist operation in Brunei
Brunei , officially the State of Brunei Darussalam or the Nation of Brunei, the Abode of Peace , is a sovereign state located on the north coast of the island of Borneo, in Southeast Asia...

). A ceremonial entry into Singapore followed with 848 Naval Air Squadron providing a flypast as the air squadron disembarked to HMS Simbang. A month alongside in Singapore followed, for an assisted maintenance period (AMP). Having embarked the Australian Army Band, the ship sailed Singapore at the end of June for Japan, carrying out a full power trial and encountering typhoons on passage. Albion was in Kobe
, pronounced , is the fifth-largest city in Japan and is the capital city of Hyōgo Prefecture on the southern side of the main island of Honshū, approximately west of Osaka...

 from 1 to 8 July 1971 and then returned to Singapore. A night assault exercise followed in the Marang area, in company with a number of other warships and auxiliaries.

After a rough passage the ship arrived in Fremantle
Fremantle, Western Australia
Fremantle is a city in Western Australia, located at the mouth of the Swan River. Fremantle Harbour serves as the port of Perth, the state capital. Fremantle was the first area settled by the Swan River colonists in 1829...

 on 9 August 1971 for an eight-day visit, shifting from tropical uniform ("whites") to blue uniform ("blues") for the Australian winter. She returned to Singapore on 23 August and had another month alongside. Sailing Singapore on 20 September, she spent two days at the U.S. Naval Base Subic Bay
U.S. Naval Base Subic Bay
U.S. Naval Base Subic Bay was a major ship-repair, supply, and rest and recreation facility of the United States Navy located in Zambales, Philippines. It was the largest U.S...

 and arrived Hong Kong
Hong Kong
Hong Kong is one of two Special Administrative Regions of the People's Republic of China , the other being Macau. A city-state situated on China's south coast and enclosed by the Pearl River Delta and South China Sea, it is renowned for its expansive skyline and deep natural harbour...

 on 30 September where she was alongside the British naval base, HMS Tamar
HMS Tamar (shore station)
HMS Tamar was the name for the Royal Navy's base in Hong Kong from 1897 to 1997. It took its name from HMS Tamar a ship that was used as the base until replaced by buildings ashore.-19th Century:...

, until 11 October.

Back in Singapore on 15 October, her last two weeks at the Singapore Naval Base
Singapore Naval Base
The Singapore Naval Base , situated in Sembawang at the northern tip of Singapore, was a Royal Navy Shore establishment as well as being a cornerstone of British Defence policy in the Far East between the World Wars.-History:After the Great War, the British government devoted...

 were spent storing, embarking 40 Commando Royal Marines and 848 Naval Air Squadron as part of the British withdrawal from the Far East. A farewell parade of all British armed forces represented in Singapore was held at 1730 on 29 October 1971 at the base in Sembawang
Sembawang is an area in the Northern-most portion of Singapore, encompassing the largest land mass within the Sembawang Group Representation Constituency. The incumbent Member of Parliament for the Sembawang Constituency is Khaw Boon Wan. The constituency jurisdiction extends into the Woodlands...

, the salute being taken by Air Chief Marshal
Air Chief Marshal
Air chief marshal is a senior 4-star air-officer rank which originated in and continues to be used by the Royal Air Force...

 Sir Brian Burnett. The ship sailed the next day and, on 31 October 1971, the ship was one of twenty in a steampast - and flypast - that marked the handover of the naval base to the ANZUK
ANZUK was a tripartite force formed by Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom to defend the Asian Pacific region after the United Kingdom withdrew forces from the east of Suez in the early seventies. The ANZUK force was formed in 1971 and disbanded in 1974....

 forces. HMS Albion then headed west.

First call was Gan
Gan may refer to:-Computing and telecommunications:*.gan, the file extension for documents created by GanttProject*Generic Access Network formerly known as Unlicensed Mobile Access *Global Area Network- Mythology :...

 and then on to Mombasa
Mombasa is the second-largest city in Kenya. Lying next to the Indian Ocean, it has a major port and an international airport. The city also serves as the centre of the coastal tourism industry....

 from 14–22 November, where the ship underwent a week's self-maintenance period (SMP) in Kilindini harbour
Kilindini Harbour
Kilindini Harbour is a large, natural deep-water inlet extending inland from Mombasa, Kenya. It is 25-30 fathoms at its deepest center. It serves as the harbour for Mombasa, with a hinterland extending to Uganda and Sudan. Kilindini Harbour is the main part of the Port of Mombasa, the only...

. She then sailed to Masirah Island
Masirah Island
Masirah is an island off the East coast of Oman, 95 km long north-south, between 12 and 14 km wide, with an area of about 649 km², and a population estimated at 12,000 in 12 villages mainly in the north of the island...

 and, as part of the "Gulf Covering Force", assisted with the withdrawal of British forces form the Persian Gulf
Persian Gulf
The Persian Gulf, in Southwest Asia, is an extension of the Indian Ocean located between Iran and the Arabian Peninsula.The Persian Gulf was the focus of the 1980–1988 Iran-Iraq War, in which each side attacked the other's oil tankers...

. On 10 December she was detached, at full speed, to the Bay of Bengal
Bay of Bengal
The Bay of Bengal , the largest bay in the world, forms the northeastern part of the Indian Ocean. It resembles a triangle in shape, and is bordered mostly by the Eastern Coast of India, southern coast of Bangladesh and Sri Lanka to the west and Burma and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands to the...

 to aid United Kingdom citizens remaining in East Pakistan
East Pakistan
East Pakistan was a provincial state of Pakistan established in 14 August 1947. The provincial state existed until its declaration of independence on 26 March 1971 as the independent nation of Bangladesh. Pakistan recognized the new nation on 16 December 1971. East Pakistan was created from Bengal...

 during the Indo-Pakistan War but was diverted to Gan, where she arrived on 15 December.From Gan, 40 Commando Royal Marines were flown home to the United Kingdom. For the ship, it was Christmas in the Indian Ocean and New Year in Cape Town, from where she sailed on 5 January 1972. Back in home waters, she disembarked 848 Naval Air Squadron on 20 January and entered Portsmouth on 24 January 1972.

After maintenance and leave, the ship sailed from Portsmouth
Portsmouth is the second largest city in the ceremonial county of Hampshire on the south coast of England. Portsmouth is notable for being the United Kingdom's only island city; it is located mainly on Portsea Island...

 on 11 April 1972, embarking 848 Naval Air Squadron, for the Mediterranean. After a visit to Gibraltar, the ship was lying off Cyprus
Cyprus , officially the Republic of Cyprus , is a Eurasian island country, member of the European Union, in the Eastern Mediterranean, east of Greece, south of Turkey, west of Syria and north of Egypt. It is the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea.The earliest known human activity on the...

 from 20 to 29 April, supporting Royal Marines in an exercise. Then followed a large NATO exercise, "Dawn Patrol", which included visits to Kavala
Kavala , is the second largest city in northern Greece, the principal seaport of eastern Macedonia and the capital of Kavala peripheral unit. It is situated on the Bay of Kavala, across from the island of Thasos...

, Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

, and Souda Bay
Souda Bay
Souda Bay is a bay and natural harbour on the northwest coast of the Greek island of Crete. The bay is about 15 km long and only two to four km wide, and a deep natural harbour. It is formed between the Akrotiri peninsula and Cape Drapano, and runs west to east...

, Crete
Crete is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands, the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, and one of the thirteen administrative regions of Greece. It forms a significant part of the economy and cultural heritage of Greece while retaining its own local cultural traits...

. Returning west for home, with a brief stop at Gibraltar, the ship paid an official visit to Brest
Brest, France
Brest is a city in the Finistère department in Brittany in northwestern France. Located in a sheltered position not far from the western tip of the Breton peninsula, and the western extremity of metropolitan France, Brest is an important harbour and the second French military port after Toulon...

 from 23 to 30 May 1972, flying the flag of the Commander-in-Chief Fleet, Admiral Sir Edward Ashmore. The ship returned to Portsmouth on the last day of May and, in the first week of June, Captain William Staveley
William Staveley (admiral)
Admiral of the Fleet Sir William Doveton Minet Staveley GCB, DL , was Chief of the Naval Staff and First Sea Lord.-Early life:...

 RN assumed command.

June 1972 saw the ship carrying out demonstrations at sea for officers from the Royal College of Defence Studies
Royal College of Defence Studies
The Royal College of Defence Studies is an internationally-renowned institution and component of the Defence Academy of the United Kingdom...

 and, on 14 June, she headed north for Rosyth
Rosyth is a town located on the Firth of Forth, three miles south of the centre of Dunfermline. According to an estimate taken in 2008, the town has a population of 12,790....

 where the ship received a visit from the Grand Duke of Luxembourg
Grand Duke of Luxembourg
The Grand Duke of Luxembourg is the sovereign monarch and head of state of Luxembourg. Luxembourg has been a grand duchy since 15 March 1815, when it was elevated from a duchy when placed in personal union with the United Kingdom of the Netherlands...

. Having embarked 45 Command Royal Marines
45 Commando
45 Commando Royal Marines is a battalion sized unit of the British Royal Marines and subordinate unit within 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines, the principal Commando formation, under the Operational Command of Commander in Chief Fleet....

 and 848 Naval Air Squadron in the Firth of Forth
Firth of Forth
The Firth of Forth is the estuary or firth of Scotland's River Forth, where it flows into the North Sea, between Fife to the north, and West Lothian, the City of Edinburgh and East Lothian to the south...

, she sailed north for exercises in waters around the Orkney Islands
Orkney Islands
Orkney also known as the Orkney Islands , is an archipelago in northern Scotland, situated north of the coast of Caithness...

. She was in Rotterdam
Rotterdam is the second-largest city in the Netherlands and one of the largest ports in the world. Starting as a dam on the Rotte river, Rotterdam has grown into a major international commercial centre...

 from 28 June to 4 July 1972 and, on 8 July, 848 Naval Air Squadron disembarked HMS Albion for the last time, before the ship spent Clyde Week in Greenock
Greenock is a town and administrative centre in the Inverclyde council area in United Kingdom, and a former burgh within the historic county of Renfrewshire, located in the west central Lowlands of Scotland...

. Her last United Kingdom port visit was to Dover
Dover is a town and major ferry port in the home county of Kent, in South East England. It faces France across the narrowest part of the English Channel, and lies south-east of Canterbury; east of Kent's administrative capital Maidstone; and north-east along the coastline from Dungeness and Hastings...

, marking the ship's adoption by the Confederation of Cinque Ports
Cinque Ports
The Confederation of Cinque Ports is a historic series of coastal towns in Kent and Sussex. It was originally formed for military and trade purposes, but is now entirely ceremonial. It lies at the eastern end of the English Channel, where the crossing to the continent is narrowest...

. On 18 July, she held a Families' Day in Portsmouth before going alongside in the naval base for leave and maintenance.

In September 1972 Albion took part in Exercise "Strong Express", then the largest NATO exercise ever staged, in Norwegian waters around Harstad
is the second largest city and municipality by population, in Troms county, Norway – the city is also the third largest in North Norway. Thus Harstad is the natural centre for its district. Situated approximately north of the Arctic Circle, the city celebrated its 100th anniversary in...

. Her final deployment was to Canada, and she sailed from Portsmouth on 10 October 1972, embarking 42 Commando
42 Commando
42 Commando Royal Marines is a battalion sized formation of the British Royal Marines and a subordinate unit within 3 Commando Brigade, the principal Commando formation, under the Operational Command of Commander in Chief Fleet....

 Royal Marines and 845 Naval Air Squadron the next day. She arrived in St John, New Brunswick on 19 October and landed 42 Commando for exercises ashore with Canadian forces and, two days later, Halifax
City of Halifax
Halifax is a city in Canada, which was the capital of the province of Nova Scotia and shire town of Halifax County. It was the largest city in Atlantic Canada until it was amalgamated into Halifax Regional Municipality in 1996...

, Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia is one of Canada's three Maritime provinces and is the most populous province in Atlantic Canada. The name of the province is Latin for "New Scotland," but "Nova Scotia" is the recognized, English-language name of the province. The provincial capital is Halifax. Nova Scotia is the...

 for a nine-day visit hosted by HMCS Stadacona. She began her passage along the St Lawrence Seaway on 31 October, arriving in Montreal
Montreal is a city in Canada. It is the largest city in the province of Quebec, the second-largest city in Canada and the seventh largest in North America...

 two days later. With 150 sea cadets embarked, she sailed from Montreal at 0830 on 7 November and arrived in Quebec
Quebec or is a province in east-central Canada. It is the only Canadian province with a predominantly French-speaking population and the only one whose sole official language is French at the provincial level....

 at 2030 the same day. Sailing 10 November, she called at St John on 13 November in order to recover 42 Commando, finally departing Canadian waters on 15 November and heading East across the North Atlantic. At 0800 on 22 November, Albion anchored in Plymouth Sound
Plymouth Sound
Plymouth Sound, or locally just The Sound, is a bay at Plymouth in England.Its southwest and southeast corners are Penlee Point in Cornwall and Wembury Point on Devon, a distance of about 3 nautical miles . Its northern limit is Plymouth Hoe giving a north-south distance of nearly 3 nautical miles...

 and disembarked 42 Commando and 845 Naval Air Squadron. Sailing from Plymouth the next day, she entered Portsmouth Harbour at 1430 on 24 November 1972, flying her paying-off pennant
Pennant (commissioning)
The commissioning pennant is a pennant flown from the masthead of a warship. The history of flying a commissioning pennant dates back to the days of chivalry with their trail pendants being flown from the mastheads of ships they commanded...

, with a fly-past by 845 Naval Air Squadron. The usual activities then began before disposal of the ship: de-ammunitioning, returning equipments, the last ship's company dance (ashore), the wardroom paying-off ball and, daily, an exodus of members of the ship's company.


In 1973, Albion was sold for conversion to a heavy lift vessel for North Sea oil exploration. The plan collapsed, and she was instead broken up for scrap at Faslane Naval Base
HMNB Clyde
Her Majesty's Naval Base Clyde is one of three operating bases in the United Kingdom for the Royal Navy...


External links

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