Ark Royal. The Royal Navy's first purpose built aircraft carrier.
The Royal Navy allocated £81,000 for the acquisition and
conversion of a merchant ship. Mercantile hull lying on the
stocks at Blyth was purchased, possibly a hull of a general
or grain carrier. The ship was built with a large aeroplane
hold, 150ft x 45 x15, and workshops were also included. A sliding
hatchway gave access to the flight deck, the aircraft were lifted
by two 3 ton steam powered cranes. HMS Ark Royal was launched
5th September 1914 and completed in December 1914. The first
aircraft operated were Sopwith seaplanes type 807, a short 135,
two Wright Pushers and two Sopwith Tabloid land planes.
HMS Ark Royal sailed to the Dardanelles on 1st February 1915,
her aircraft were used for reconnaissance of the bombardment
by the Royal Navy of the Turkish forts and covered the Gallipoli
landings from the 25th April. She was withdrawn to Imbros at
the end of May to become the depot ship for land based aircraft.
In January 1918 two of her Sopwith ABC planes attempted to bomb
the Goeben. After World War One she operated in the Black Sea
transporting aircraft to Batumi. Also used in the support of
the Sumali land campaign against the Mad Mullah, serving in
the sea of Mamura and Black Sea. During 1920 she took part in
the withdrawal of White Russian forces from Crimea.
1920 HMS Ark Royal went into reserve at Rosyth being refitted
in this time. Recommissioned September 1922 to take aircraft
out to the Mediterranean during Chanak crisis. In April 1923
she was refitted at Malta, December 1944 she was renamed HMS
Pegasus as the planned new aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal was
laid down. Used in various capacities during World War Two and
eventually sold in December 1946, she was converted to a merchant
ship Anita I but conversion was never completed and she was
finally broken up in 1949.
four 12 pdr quick firers, two machine guns, two land planes,
five float planes. Complement: 180. Speed: 11 knots.
15 August, 2008