HMS Archer

 Escort Carrier

ex Mormacland (USA)
Became Empire Lagan 1946, Anna Salen 1949, Tasmania 1955, Union Reliance 1961

Archer was an Archer Class Escort Carrier built in the USA by Newport News Shipbuilding, Sun Shipbuilding as mercantile Mormacland. She was transferred June-November to the Royal Navy as the first American built escort carrier conversion to British order under Lend-Lease. She was commissioned on completion at Norfolk, Va, USA on 18 November 1941 as HMS Archer.

The first ever WWII escort carrier, Audacity, was used as a model for the American prototype conversion, USS Long Island, completed in 1941. However, this American mercantile conversion was far superior to the British original. A sister ship to Long Island, Mormacland, was transferred to the Royal Navy under Lend-Lease and renamed Archer. To meet the Admiralty's order for 5 such vessels, the American authorities assigned four more mercantile hulls for conversion; these became the "Avenger" Class. Archer was slightly different from the later ships in having four instead of two diesel engines, driving a single shaft. This arrangement was not entirely satisfactory and machinery problems led to her early retirement.

HMS Archer's service history includes Atlantic convoy escort from February to November 1942. On the 15 June 1942, a Swordfish from HMS Archer made history, as the first aeroplane to land on Ascension Island in the South Atlantic. It was Swordfish V4653, piloted by Lt E Dixon-Child RN, accompanied by Sub Lt P Shaw RN and PO W Townson TAG.  The aircraft was searching for survivors from the torpedoed SS Lyle Park and was endeavouring to drop a message for transmission to the Admiralty. During November 1942, she ferried 30 P-40 Warhawks from USA to Casablanca,  then provided Atlantic convoy escort from December 1942 to October 1943. During this time one of her aircraft, a swordfish from 819 squadron, sank the German Uboat U-752 on 23 May 1943 with rockets in the North Atlantic. She was subsequently laid up as a stores ship in October 1943.

Archer was returned to the USA on 9 January 1946 and sold into mercantile service. Became Empire Lagan 1946, Anna Salen 1949, Tasmania 1955, Union Reliance 1961. Scrapped New Orleans March 1962.

Battle Honours

No information on Captains.

Squadrons and Aircraft
16 aircraft - Swordfish and Martlets

FAA squadrons embarked Dates Aircraft type
834 March 1942-Dec 1942 Swordfish I
882 dt April 1942-July 1942  Martlet I
893 dt Feb 1943-Aug 1943 Martlet I
892 Feb 1943-Aug 1943 Martlet IV
819 May 1943-Aug 1943 Swordfish II

Associations and Reunions
No information

Carrier name HMS Archer. 
Ex USS Mormacland (USA)
Became Empire Lagan 1946, Anna Salen 1949, Tasmania 1955, Union Reliance 1961. 
Class Archer
Type Escort Carrier (US built)
Ships in Class Archer
Launched Built Newport News Shipbuilding / Sun Shipbuilding Transferred June-November Commissioned 1941 Early 1942 
Tonnage Net displacement 9,000 tons Gross displacement 12,860 tons Load 3,680 tons 
Engines 4 x diesels driving 1 shaft @ 8500 bhp
Speed in Knots 16.5
Armament Gun 3 x 1 x 4"L/50 AA 4 x 2 x 20mm Oerlikon AA 7 x 1 x 20mm Oerlikon AA
Crew Complement 555 Officers & Ratings including Air Group
Length (ft/inches) Length 492'
Beam (ft/inches) Beam 69'
Draught (ft/inches) Draught 22'
Flight Deck length (ft/inches) 480
Flight Deck width (ft/inches) 70
Number of aircraft carried 16
Fate of carrier  scrapped 1962

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. 
British Forces. com web Information
NavSource Photo Archives Escort Carriers esp Archer  
Navsource archives ARCHER (BAVG 1) / (CVE 30) CHARGER See CVE-30 CHARGER  
Ascension at War About the first ever aircraft landing at Ascension island - by a Swordfish from HMS Archer
Ascension Heritage Society
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)(1944). 320 pages. Crescent Books; ISBN: 0517679639

       Last Modified: 23-2-2001


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