HMS Venerable, the ship that fought with the Royal Navy – and almost against it

RICHARD MADDOX

FOLLOWING THE LAUNCHING OF HMS VENERABLE on 30 December 1943 by Mrs Herbert Morrison the 8,000 ton light aircraft carrier is seen being towed to the fitting-out yard for completion. Image Copyright: © IWM. IWM catalogue reference A 21188. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205153552

FOLLOWING THE LAUNCHING OF HMS VENERABLE on 30 December 1943 by Mrs Herbert Morrison the 8,000 ton light aircraft carrier is seen being towed to the fitting-out yard for completion. Image Copyright: © IWM. IWM catalogue reference A 21188. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205153552

LAUNCHED ON 30 DECEMBER 1943 FROM THE CAMMEL LAIRD shipyard at Birkenhead on the River Mersey on Britain’s north west coast, the Colossus-class light fleet aircraft carrier HMS Venerable would take a year to complete.(1)

The ship entered Royal Navy service in January 1945 and with the end of the war in Europe in sight, the ship prepared to serve with the British Pacific Fleet as the flagship of the 11th Carrier Squadron.

Following the dropping of the atomic weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki that heralded the Japanese surrender, the ship would serve just three years in the Royal Navy before being sold to the Royal Netherlands Navy.

Renamed HNLMS Karel Doorman, the ship would be modified by a its new owners and featured partial air conditioning as well as an angle flight deck, steam-powered catapult and mirror landing system together with improved close-range weaponry.

HMLMS Karel Doorman would remain in service for two decades until a serious engine-room fire occurred in April 1968. Proving uneconomical to repair the ship was put up for disposal.(2)

In October 1968 the ship was bought by the Argentine Navy.

After a refit in Rotterdam it was commisioned into the Argentine Navy as ARA Veinticino de Mayo in August 1969.

Following work to extend the flight deck in 1980 and increase the number of aircraft the ship could carry, ARA Veinticino de Mayo took part in the initial assault on the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas) in April 1982.(3)

Once British naval forces arrived in the Falklands area, the carrier was withdrawn to its home port of Puerto Belgrano to the south of the capital Buenos Aires for the duration of the conflict. (4)

ARA Veinticino de Mayo continued in service after the conflict until it was laid up 1990, being gradually cannibalised to support other vessels. Decommissioned in 1997 the ship was towed to India in January 1999 for scrapping, a process that started in 2000. (5)

So ended the service of a ship that had served three navies for half a century.

SOURCES

(1) https://uboat.net/allies/warships/ship/3244.html – retrieved 5 February 2019

(2) http://www.naval-history.net/xGM-Chrono-04CV-Venerable.htm – retrieved 5 February 2019

(3) https://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/argentina/ara-25-de-mayo.htm – retrieved 5 February 2019

(4) https://www.militaryfactory.com/ships/detail.asp?ship_id=ARA-Veinticinco-de-Mayo-V2 – retrieved 5 February 2019

(5) https://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/argentina/ara-25-de-mayo.htm – retrieved 5 February 2019