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Special Ark rejoins Fleet F

November. This was the final official engagement of the ship's patron, the Queen Mother, who died

last month. The Ark Royal is longer than

her two sister Invincible-class ships at 210 metres in length, and as an aircraft carrier has four primary roles within the

trols the Sea King Mk7 Airborne Early Warning and the new Merlin helicopters in support of forces at sea, and also deploys Sea Harrier FA2s and RAF GR7 Harriers for air defence, ground attack, and reconnaissance missions. She plays a vital role as a plat-

modern Royal Navy. She deploys, operates and con-

resh out of her two year refit, HMS Ark Royal returned to the Fleet last year in

form for Command, Control and Communications facilities in mar- itime, joint and combined opera- tions. Finally, Ark Royal serves as a premier ambassador for Britain's interests around the world. The current ship is the fifth ves-

sel to carry the name Ark Royal. The first Ark Royal was built for

Sir Walter Raleigh. The 690-ton, 38-gun ship became the flagship of Lord High Admiral Howard of Effingham and saw action in 1588 against the Spanish Armada and eight years later at Cadiz. The next ship to bear the name

was commissioned in December 1914 as a 7,400-ton seaplane carri- er. Her aircraft saw action in WWI over the Dardanelles and in the

• A Merlin from 814 Naval Air Squadron carries out a Gemini lift from HMS Ark Royal for the first time

northern Aegean. She continued to serve after the war and later became a trials ship to test aircraft catapults.

Pegasus, she began a training role. The third Ark Royal, commis- sioned in 1938, was Britain's first

In 1934, renamed

'flat-top' carrier. The 23,000 ton Fleet carrier saw service through- out the early stages of the war, including a crippling attack on the Bismarck in May 1941. This incar-

nation of Ark was lost later the same year after being torpedoed.

sioned until 1955 as a 43,000 ton armoured carrier. The first carrier to incorporate British innovations,

Of her crew of almost 1,600, only one man died as a result. The fourth Ark was promptly ordered in 1942, but not commis-

NAVY NEWS, MAY 2002 5 Shins of the Royal Navy No558

Facts and figures

Class: Invincible class air- craft carrier Pennant number: R07 Builder: Swan Hunters, Wallsend Laid down: December 14, 1978

Launched: June 2, 1981, by HM The Queen Mother Commissioned: November 1, 1985

tonnes Length: 210 metres Beam: 36 metres Flight deck: 168 metres Speed: over 30 knots Complement: 650; 1,000 with aircraft squadrons embarked Main machinery: gas


engines Weapons:


30mm 7-barrelled Gatling Goalkeeper; two Oerlikon/ BMARC 20mm guns Aircraft: up to 24 aircraft, including Sea Harriers (FA2), RAF Harriers (GR7), Merlin and Sea King MK7 AEW helicopters,

Signaal/General Electric

embarked for specific oper- ations anywhere in the world.

can be 23,000

over and

turbine three


Picture: PO (Phot) Dave Coombs

including angled deck, steam cata- pult and mirror landing aid. The current HMS Ark Royal is

planned to remain in active service until 2015, by which time the future generation of aircraft carriers will have joined the Fleet.

Armada Cadiz

Dardanelles Norway.

Spartivento Malta Convoys

1588 1596 1915 1940 1940

Mediterranean ... 1940-41 Bismarck

1941 1941

Pembroke House

The Royal Naval Benevolent Trust's residential & nursing home

• A Curtiss Seamew I identified as FN 475 with its unreliable landplane undercarriage Curtiss Seamew

with the Fleet Air Arm saw no operational ser- vice, and indeed, from 1943 their only purpose was training. The Seamews were suitable for catapult

The Curtiss Seamew, built by the US Curtiss- Wright Corporation of Buffalo in 1941-2, proved unpopular with the Royal Navy. The two-seater reconnaisance Seamews

launch, and could be provided with either sea- plane or land undercarriage. However, due to the lack of strength in the tailwheels, which tended to collapse on landing, and the narrow undercarriage that was so far back that a steep ground angle resulted, the Seamews were generally disliked among aircrews. The aircraft was the British version of the

100 arrived on these shores, but the eventual destination of the final 150 remains unclear. A later group of 30 aircraft known as Queen Seamews were converted for use as radio- controlled target drone aircraft. The aircraft worked principally with FAA establishments in Yarmouth, Canada, and at Hampshire's Worthy Down, as part of the Telegraphist Air Gunner Training Squadron within No.1 Air Gunners School. Among the squadrons in which the Seamew

US Navy's SO3C-2 Seamew, a successor to the Curtiss SOC-1 Seagull biplane of 1935. The Seamews were withdrawn from the US Navy in early 1944, and the original biplane Seagulls outlasted their replacements. Of the 800 Seamews built between 1941-2,

250 were due to come to the UK under Lend- Lease arrangements. It is known that the first

Ranger SGV-770-6 engine and its wingspan stretched 38ft. As a seaplane the Seamew was 36ft 10in in length with a loaded weight of 5,729lb. In its landplane incarnation, it s length was 34ft 2in and loaded weight 5,588lb. Its performance as a seaplane allowed it an endurance of 8 hours and a top speed of 190mph at 7,500ft. Its weapons were one fixed machine-gun at the front and another free-mounted aft.

played a role were 744, 745 and 755 Naval Air Squadrons. The Seamew was powered by one 520hp

A fine, newly modernised home near Chatham for former Sailors, Royal Marines, their wives and widows

Pembroke House offers the highest standards of care, first class accommodation, an extensive programme of activities and a very friendly atmosphere - all at a competitive cost. For further information please contact the General Manager, Pembroke House.

The RNBT also gives financial grants to serving and ex-serving RN ratings, RM other ranks and their dependants (the 'RNBT Family') to help them in a wide variety of circumstances. For advice and assistance please contact the Welfare Controller at RNBT Headquarters.


General Manager, Pembroke House, 11 Oxford Road, Gillingham, Kent, ME7 4BS.

Tel: 01634 852431 Fax: 01634 281 709 e-mail: web site:


The Royal Naval Benevolent Trust, Castaway House, 311 Twyford Avenue, Portsmouth, PO2 8PE.

Tel: 023 9266 0296 Fax: 023 92660852 email: web site:


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