Ocean Boarding Vessel/Escort Carrier

Ex MV Hannover (Germany)
Ex Sinbad, Empire Audacity 

HMS Audacity was the first of the Royal Navy escort carriers. She was launched 29 March 1939 as German passenger liner MV Hannover. Captured 8 March 1940. Commissioned into the Royal Navy on 17 June 1941. Sunk 21 Dec 1941 off Portugal.

HMS Audacity began life in 1939 as the North German Lloyd cargo/passenger liner Hannover, a motor vessel of 5537 gross registered tonnage, very similar to the ships being converted by the Germans to disguised raiders. She was caught outside home waters by the outbreak of war, and captured by HMS Dunedin in the West Indies in 8 March 1940 while trying to run the blockade.

Taken into the Royal Navy she was then named Sinbad.  She was renamed Empire Audacity on her conversion to an escort carrier which began in January 1941. She was commissioned as an Ocean Boarding vessel on 11 November 1940. She was subsequently converted by Blyth Shipbuilding from 22 January 1941 to June 1941 as an escort Carrier and renamed HMS Audacity on commissioning 30 July 1941.

As the first Escort carrier the desigfn had nor space for a hangar or a lift, so her aircraft were parked on deck. Three arrestor wires and an open conning position on the starboard side were fitted, together with a minimal anti-aircraft armament. As the principal air threat was perceived to be Condor long-range reconnaissance aircraft, her aircraft were all fighters. Hurricanes were proposed but not available, while the Grumman Martlet was not only available but had been specifically designed for carrier operations. Eight aircraft were embarked, forming 802 squadron.

HMS Audacity commenced her war service when she sailed with her first convoy in September 1941 to Gibraltar. She was equipped with Martlet Mk IIs. The majority of the Martlet Mk.IIs (54) were sent to the Far East, however the first shipboard operations of the type in RN service were in September 1941, on board of HMS Audacity.  It no lifts and no hangar deck; the six Wildcats were parked on the deck at all times. Her aircraft fought off a bombing attack, and forced several U-boats to submerge by strafing them. On 21 September, one of her aircraft shot down a Focke-wulf Condor which had just been making a bomb run attack on the convoy rescue ship Walmer Castle. The ship carrying over 80 survivors was set on fire and had to be sunk by gunfire from a corvette.

Audacity participated in two more convoys. On the next voyage, four Fw 200s fell to the guns of the Martlets and two more Condors were shot down.

Martlet I flown by Sub-Lt Eric Brown, No. 802 Sqdn, FAA, HMS Audacity, 8 Nov 1941

Sub Lt Eric Brown, later to become a well known Fleet Air Arm test pilot, was one of the  3 perpetrators in an incident of three Martlets from HMS Audacity,of an unfriendly act against a neutral almost exactly 59 years ago. After World War II had ended he received a photograph of this "dastardly act" taken from the Pan Am Clipper by one of the crew or a passenger and sent to him via the US Embassy in London.
Letter was received from Captain E M Brown, Royal Navy:Clerk's Comments -January 2001, Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators

In December 1941, Audacity joined Commander Walker's Second Support Group to escort convoy HG-76, homeward bound from Gibraltar to UK. The Convoy consisted of 32 merchantmen, nine escorts, three destroyers, and HMS Audacity as escort carrier. This convoy fought a running battle with twelve U-boats sinking five for the loss of only three merchantmen, a destroyer and HMS Audacity herself.  Audacity's aircraft shot down 2 Condors. On 17 December after being attacked by a Martlet from Audacity, U-131 which had been shadowing the convoy was sunk by the destroyers HMS Blankney and Stanley, the sloop Stork and the corvette Pentstemon, all convoy escorts.

These convoys conclusively proved the value of the escort carrier, and improved types were commissioned from American shipyards. Audacity was sunk by 3 torpedoes from the German Uboat U-751 on 21 December 1941 near Portugal.

The wreck is located in the North Atlantic, 350nm W of Cape Finisterre, Spain.

Battle Honours
Atlantic 1941.

No information on Captains.

Squadrons and Aircraft
September 1941 8 Martlet (802 sqdn)

FAA squadrons embarked Dates Aircraft type
802 Sept-Dec 1941 Martlet I/III

Associations and Reunions
No information

Carrier name HMS Audacity. 
Ex Empire Audacity, ex Sinbad, ex merchant Hannover (Germany)
Class Audacity
Type Escort Carrier 
Ships in Class Audacity
Launched Launched March 1939. Converted 29 March 1939 Commissioned 17 June 1941
Tonnage Gross displacement 11,000 tons
Engines Propulsion 2 diesels @ 5200 bhp , 1 shaft
Speed in Knots 15-16
Armament Gun 1 x 4" HA/LA, 1 6 pd, 4x 2 pd AA, 4 x 20mm AA
Crew Complement  
Length (ft/inches) Length 467'
Beam (ft/inches) Beam 56'
Draught (ft/inches) Draught 27' 6"
Flight Deck length (ft/inches) 460
Flight Deck width (ft/inches) 56
Armour none
Number of aircraft carried 6 to 8
Fate of carrier sunk by torpedoes from U-751 21 Dec. 1941. 
Notes This ship was the first escort carrier, this set the patter n for the remaining hundred or so merchant-huilled escort carriers

British Forces. com web Information
'The Allied Convoy System 1939-1945' by Arnold
Hague. Vanwell Publishing, Ontario, and Chatham Publishing, London, 2000). 
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)(1944). 320 pages. Crescent Books; ISBN: 0517679639

        Last Modified: 23-2-2001


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