Escort Carrier

Became Karel Doorman (1) 1946 (Netherlands)


Nairana (D-05) was built in the UK by John Brown at Clydebank. She was laid down on 20 May 1943 and commissioned 12 December 1943. Transferred to Netherlands 20 March 1946 and renamed Karel Doorman. Scrapped at Faslane 1971.

In February 1941 the Ministry of War Transport agreed to reserve ships then under construction for possible conversion to escort carriers, although they refused to release existing ships. The one exception was Activity, who was completed in August 1942 as the refrigerated cargo carrier Telemachus (ex-Empire Activity), and operated by the Alfred Holt Line. Campania, Nairana and Vindex were all converted from refrigerated cargo ships, while Pretoria Castle was converted from a passenger liner. These were "naval" escort carriers as opposed to the "merchant" escort carriers of the "Empire" and "Rapana" Classes. Unlike the American conversions, which had short wooden flight decks, and many of which had open-sided hangars and a single screw, these British conversions were all twin-screw vessels with enclosed hangars and relatively long steel flight decks.

HMS Nairana Sea Hurricane

Nairana's wartime service was focused on convoy escort duties 1944 to 1945. In January 1944, Capt Walker's 2nd Escort Group - Capt Walker with sloops "Starling", "Kite", "Magpie", "Wild Goose" and "Woodpecker" accompanied by escort carriers "Activity" and "Nairana" arrives in the waters to the southwest of  Ireland. Over the next three weeks the five sloops share in the sinking of six U-boats operating against the convoys passing through the area. Their first success was on 31 January 1944 when "Starling", "Magpie" and "Wild Goose" depth charged and sank U-592.

By the summer of 1944, 825 and 835 squadrons in HMS Vindex and HMS Nairana respectively were flew the last last type of Sea Hurricane (IIc) to see first-line carrier service. Flying North Atlantic convoy patrols, these cannon-armed Sea Hurricanes operated at low level as U-boat strafers, and between March 1944-May 1945 the aircraft of the four carriers Activity, Nairana, Vindex and Campania along with Tracker, Fencer and Striker sunk seven U-boats and shared in three more. On 26 May 1944, Lt. Jamie Haggo RN flying Sea Hurricane Mk IIc (NF672) of 835 squadron, HMS Nairana was credited with shooting down a Ju290.

Convoy JW62, consisting of 31 ships, sailed from Loch Ewe on 29 November 1944 and arrived without loss at the Kola Inlet on 7 December, including the cruiser HMS Bellona, Escort Carriers HMS Campania (Rear-Admiral McGrigor) and HMS Nairana, along with 15 destroyers, 3 sloops, 10 frigates, 4 corvettes including HMS Tunberg Castle (Norwegian), and HMS Eglantine (Norwegian).

Nairana transferred after the war to Netherlands 20 March 1946 and renamed Karel Doorman. The first foreign variant of the Sea Fury was the Sea Fury Mk.50 for the the Royal Netherlands Navy for service on the ex-Royal Naval Escort Carrier Nairana. Twelve more were ordered in 1950, bringing the total to twenty four. A license was acquired for manufacture of Sea Furies by Fokker, and the license manufacture brought the total of Dutch Sea Furies to 48.

Nairana was eventually scrapped at Faslane 1971.

Battle Honours
Atlantic 1944, Arctic 1944 - 5, Norway 1945

No information on Captains.

Squadrons and Aircraft
20 aircraft - 16 Swordfish, 4 Martlets

Sea Hurricane IIc of 835 Squadron, HMS Nairana, 1944

FAA squadrons embarked Dates Aircraft type
835 Dec 1943-Sept 1944 Swordfish III/Sea Hurricane IIc
784 Feb-March 1944 Fulmar UU
835 Sept 1944-March 1945 Swordfish III/Wildcat IV
860 Oct-Nov 1945 Barracuda III

Associations and Reunions

Lt. Allen Burgham (RNZVR) served in 835 Squadron (Fleet Air Arm) from 1939 to 1945 on HMS Nairana. He would like to contact pilots who flew against the Arctic convoys. Has anyone any suggestions as to how to contact German Veterans' Associations?  Do you have any information which may assist, Please contact :-
Direct at :
Lost Comrades at Veterans Rendezvous
Carrier name HMS Nairana. Transferred to Netherlands and renamed HrMS Karel Doorman I
Became mercanbtile Port Victor 1948.
Class Activity
Type British builtEscort Carrier 
Ships in Class Activity, Campania, Nairana, Vindex, Pretoria Castle
Launched Nairana D-05 John Brown laid down 20 May 1943 Commissioned 12 December 1943
Tonnage 14,046 tons 17,485 tons
Engines 2 sets 5-cylinder Doxford Diesels. 2 shafts (BHP 11,000)
Speed in Knots 16-18 kts
Armament One 2 x 4"/50-cal HA/LA Eight 2 x 40mm AA Eight 2 x 20mm AA 
Crew Complement 558
Length (ft/inches) 528.5 ft 
Beam (ft/inches) 68.4 ft 
Draught (ft/inches) 21 ft 
Flight Deck length (ft/inches)  
Flight Deck width (ft/inches)  
Number of aircraft carried 30
Fate of carrier  Scrapped at Faslane 1971

Convoy JW62 in HMS CASSANDRA homepage Details of Arctic Convoy JW62 and its return as Convoy RA62 in 1944 involving HMS Nairana
THE STORY OF "NICKI" Sea-Hurricane IIc NF 672- (7K) of  FAA 804 and 835 Squadrons - Royal Navy AS SEEN BY ONE OF HER PILOTS  by Ian Burgham with Lt.-Cmdr Allen Burgham, DSC, MiD, RCNVR (Ret’d) (RNZNVR) Details of the war service of Hurricane NF672 on HMS Nairana
An A-Z of Aircraft Profiles by FAUCONBERG AEROGRAPHICS Aircraft Profiles including HAWKER SEA HURRICANE Mk.IIC, 835 Squadron, Royal Naval Air Service, H.M.S. Nairana, June 1942,
HMS Nairana by Britsih  
BRING BACK MY STRINGBAG, Swordfish Pilot at War, John Kilbracken In January, 1945, as one of the youngest lieutenant-commanders in the Navy, Kilbrachen commanded the squadron of fourteen Swordfish and six Wildcats on board HMS Nairana. For his flying from this ship he was awarded the DSC.
Squadron 860  History of 860 (Dutch) Flet Air Arm squadron [in dutch]
HERINNERINGEN AAN DE REIS VAN Hr.Ms. "KAREL DOORMAN"(1) NAAR NED. OOST-INDIE     (1946 - 1947)   deel: 1. Door A. de Booy (oud-commandant)  History of HMS Nairana once renamed Karel Doorman (1) in the service of the Dutch Navy.
Koninklijke Marine 1945-Helden History and photographs of  HMS Nairana once renamed Karel Doorman (1) in the service of the Dutch Navy.
World Aircraft Carrier Lists and Photo Gallery - from 1913 to 2000. Naval History Information Center, Haze Gray & Underway
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


Return to Home Page


This page is published by Fleet Air Arm Archive and is updated regularly.
© 2000-2001 All rights reserved for all information created for or on behalf of the Fleet Air Arm Archive
Contact email: