Escort Carrier

Ex Rio Hudson

HMS Avenger was built in the USA at Sun Shipbuilding, Chester, Pennsylvania, and laid down as mercantile Rio Hudson, where she was launched 27 November 1940 and subsequently converted as BAVG-2. She was transferred to the RN and commissioned 2 March 1942. Following sea trials, she left New York in a tanker convoy and arrived on the Clyde in May 1942 where further modifications took place.

HMS Avenger and the "Avenger" Class ships were basically similar to the "Archer" Class, but differed sufficiently to be regarded as a separate class. All were converted in the USA from mercantile hulls. When Avenger and Biter first arrived in the UK they went immediately into dockyard hands to have their flight-decks lengthened by 42 feet to allow Swordfish aircraft to take off with a full load of weapons and fuel. A fourth ship, Charger, was retained in the US after completion and used for training Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm pilots.

Avenger's war service commenced on 3 September, when she left Scapa Flow on her first official active duty, as an escort to convoy PQ18 to the north of Russia. She was equipped with 12 Sea Hurricanes from 883 Squadron, and 3 Swordfish from 825 Squadron.Convoy PQ-18 to Russia in September 1942, where her aircraft sank the German submarine U589 on 14 September with the assistance of the destroyer HMS Faulknor.

She arrived back in Scapa Flow on 3 October after a very active first operation. Her Swordfish had flown 32 sorties and attacked 6 of the 16 U-Boats sited, while the Hurricanes had destroyed and damaged 26 aircraft in 31 combats during 59 sorties. They had engaged German U-Boats, flying boats, Junkers Ju88 bombers and Heinkel He111 bombers. In all 13 merchant ships were lost, but the convoy claimed 42 German aircraft destroyed.

In her second operation, Avenger was ordered to take part in Operation "Torch", the invasion of North Africa. She left the Clyde on 22 October with her sister-ship Biter and the Fleet Carrier Victorious, to join the slow assault convoy KMS1.On 7 November, Avenger left the convoy and sailed to join HMS Argus off Algiers. From here,
the combined ships' 30 Sea Hurricanes and Seafires would provide fighter cover for landings planned for dawn on 8 November. No airborne opposition was encountered on 8 or 9 November and the Vichy French in Algiers surrendered earlier than expected. The Royal Air Force assumed responsibility for air defence, and with her aircraft ashore, Avenger was excused from duties. On 10 November she entered Algiers harbour to undertake repairs to problems with her engines, which had reduced her maximum speed to only 14 knots.

After taking part in the Operation Torch landings of North Africa in November 1942, she departed Gibraltar with convoy MFK 1(Y) on 14 November, heading home to the Clyde in the UK. The Convoy consisted of HM ships Almaak, Argus, Avenger, Dempo, Etterick, Letitia, Macharda, Orbita, Samuel Chase, and Ulster Monarch. At 0305 on 15 November, Avenger was torpedoed by the German U-Boat U-155, along with two other escorting merchant ships, Ettrick which sank, and Almaak, which was damaged. Avenger was hit on the port side amidships, which in turn ignited her bomb room, blowing out the centre section of the ship. Her bow and stern sections rose in the air and sunk within 2 minutes, leaving only 12 survivors.

The names of the survivors were: C. J. Brackie, A.B., C/JX241076; B. Burgess, Air Mechanic, FX78537; J. F. Davis, P.O., FX80202; A. Greenfield, Air Mechanic, FX2686; P. J. Greenwood, Leading Radio Mechanic, FX88186; T. H. Jacob, A.B., C/JX178752; A. J. Mace, A.B., C/JX145316; L. Mawson, P.O., FX75504; N. McGregory, A.B., 313809; J. C. Norris, Air Mechanic, FX78226; W. W. Russell, A.B., C/JX181140; and W. F. Whitmore, Ordinary Seaman, C/JX350872.

HMS Avenger was torpedoed and sunk west of Gibraltar by U-155 on 15 November 1942. The wreck is located in the North Atlantic, 45nm S of Cape Santa Maria, Portugal.

Battle Honours
Martinique 1794, Arctic 1942, North Africa 1942

No information on Captains.

Squadrons and Aircraft
15 aircraft: 12 Swordfish, 3 Martlet fighters

FAA squadrons embarked Dates Aircraft type
883 June -Nov 1942 Sea Hurricane Ib/IIb
802  July-Nov 1942 Sea Hurricane Ib/IIb
825 July-Sept 1942 Swordfish I/II
833 dt Oct-Nov 1942  Swordfish I

Associations and Reunions
No information

Carrier name HMS Avenger
Ex Rio Hudson, Ex BAVG-2 (USA)
Class Avenger Class
Type Escort Carrier (US built)
Ships in Class Avenger, Biter, Dasher, Charger (retained in the US for FAA training) 
Launched Avenger Sun Shipbuilding Converted 27 November 1940 Commissioned2 March 1942 


Tonnage Net displacement 8,200 tons Gross displacement 14,500 tons Load 6,300 tons 
Engines 2 x diesels @ 5200 hp , 1 shaft
Speed in Knots 16
Armament Gun 3 x 1 x 4"/50-cal HA/LA 4 x 2 x 20mm 7 x 1 x 20mm 
Crew Complement 555 Officers & Ratings including Air Group
Length (ft/inches) Length 492'3"
Beam (ft/inches) Beam 69'6" 
Draught (ft/inches) Draught 25'
Flight Deck length (ft/inches) 480'
Flight Deck width (ft/inches) 70'
Number of aircraft carried 15
Fate of carrier Torpedoed and sunk west of Gibraltar by U-155 on 15 November 1942

Loss of HMS AVENGER by Torpedo: Report of Enquiry, ADM 1/12605, PRO Kew, England
NavSource Photo Archives Escort Carriers esp Avenger and BAVG-2 HMS AVENGER  
Ships website and HMS AVENGER Escort carrier   Details and history of HMS AVENGER Escort carrier 
An Account of the Loss of Temp. Acting Sub-Lieut. (E) John Sidney Brew, R.N.V.R. aboard HMS Avenger. In Brew Surname One Name Study and Genealogy Site 
World Aircraft Carrier Lists and Photo Gallery - from 1913 to 2000. Naval History Information Center, Haze Gray & Underway American based World Aircraft Carrier Lists & Photo Gallery - one of the definitive online sources for British and world aircraft carrier & seaplane tender data, histories and images - over 1000 photos. 
Sturtivant, R & Ballance, T  (1994). 'The Squadrons of the Fleet Air Arm' Published by Air Britain (Historians) Ltd, 1994 ISBN: 0 85130 223 8

The World’s Warships 1941 by Francis E. McMurtrie (1944). Janes London 1941 1st ed. 

Jane's Fighting Ships of World War II by Francis E. McMurtrie (Editor)(1984). 320 pages. Crescent Books; ISBN: 0517679639

       Last Modified: 23-2-2001


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