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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Mystery Carrier

Mystery Carrier

I'm really looking for some help with this one. The caption that was one the original photo says "American Carrier, 1950." The trouble is that it's not an American carrier at all, if for no other reason than the fact that there's a White Ensign flying on the fantail (there are other indicators as well). The photo was one of a series that was taken near Victoria B.C. and the most obvious guess - that this is the Canadian carrier HMCS Magnificent - is also a wrong guess since Magnificent was based out of Halifax on the east coast. Clearly then this was a British carrier, possibly on the way to Korea, but what ship?

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Arromanche, nee Colossus

A website devoted to international navies shows the French Arromanche, acquired from Britain in 1946. It was formerly the Colossus. Unlike American carriers of the period, it does not have a large array of AA guns along the side, and AA gun tubs at the bow. The Colossus/ Arromanche is recognizable by its relatively narrow deck, slooping stern configuration, and limited deckside gangways. The Arromanche was scrapped in 1974.

Colossal mistake

I don't think it's Colossus. According to Hazegray, Colossus was sold to France in 1951; she was loaned to France before that, in 1946, and was operating (in Indochina, today's Vietnam) as FNS Arromanches.

HMS Colossus

A couple of people on myconfinedspace thought it could be the HMS Colossus.

Triumph and Glory

Looking over the history of HMS Triumph in a couple of sources it seems unlikely that she is my ship. Triumph's movements from the beginning of the war are fairly well known. She was serving with the British Far East Fleet based out of Hong Kong in 1950 when the war started. She then sailed to the Japanese port of Sasebo where she based during her service in Korea until September 21, 1950 when she returned to Hong Kong at the end of her war deployment.

HMS Theseus had been with the Home Fleet in 1950 and made a passage to Singapore once she was nominated to replace HMS Triumph in Korea. Would that entail a passage though the Panama Canal and then a visit to the Canadian base at Esquimalt or would she go through the Suez Canal and then to India?

Of course another suspect is their sister ship HMS Glory (R62) if you fudge the 1950 date a bit. Returned to service in November 1950 and deployed to Korea in April 1951 and alternated with HMS Theseus for three war deployments.

I should have added

I should have added the caveat that i was going solely on the assumption that the original poster's data that this photo was in fact taken in 1950. I want to say there were, i believe, three other Colossus-class carriers at various times in Korean War, but that as far as i can tell only the Triumph and Theseus in 1950.

The Triumph

There is a photo of Theseus in 1950 on p. 52 of "The Eclipse of the Big Gun," from Conway's "History of the Ship." It shows a dish antenna on top of the (otherwise very similar) superstructure that your photo doesn't show. Also, it shows a smaller, probably ECM antenna in the position where the very dark horizontal antenna, probably surface search, appears in this photo. Therefore, it appears this carrier, while certainly of the same class with many similarities including cranes, hull openings for mooring, and mast position, is not Theseus. Since Impy's post says only 2 British carriers of the Colossus class were involved in Korea and might have visited BC on their way to or from the action, it seems most likely it is the Triumph. It does not appear than pennant numbers were displayed on British carriers in this period; US carriers had their numbers painted quite large on the side of the island.


Looks like a Colossus-class carrier. Probably HMS Triumph (R16) or HMS Theseus (R64), both of which launched airstrikes off Korea in 1950.

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