HMS Triumph (R16)
(1944–1981) was a Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...
-class light fleet aircraft carrier
An aircraft carrier is a warship designed with a primary mission of deploying and recovering aircraft, acting as a seagoing airbase. Aircraft carriers thus allow a naval force to project air power worldwide without having to depend on local bases for staging aircraft operations...
. She served in the Korean War
The Korean War was a conventional war between South Korea, supported by the United Nations, and North Korea, supported by the People's Republic of China , with military material aid from the Soviet Union...
and later, after reconstruction, as a support ship.
Construction and commission
was laid down during World War II on 27 January 1943 at Hawthorn Leslie and Company
R. & W. Hawthorn Leslie and Company, Limited, usually referred to as Hawthorn Leslie, was a shipbuilding and locomotive manufacturer. The Company was founded on Tyneside in 1886 and ceased building ships in 1982.-History:...
on the Tyne. Her construction was relatively rapid and she was launched on 2 October 1944 only a few months from the end of the war. She was commissioned into the Royal Navy on 6 May 1946.
Korean War service
In 1950, Triumph
was on a cruise to Japan as part of the Far East Fleet. She was nearing Hong Kong
Hong Kong is one of two Special Administrative Regions of the People's Republic of China , the other being Macau. A city-state situated on China's south coast and enclosed by the Pearl River Delta and South China Sea, it is renowned for its expansive skyline and deep natural harbour...
when news reached Triumph
and her accompanying ships of war breaking out in the Korean peninsula, forcing Triumph
into a state of alert, including fully armed aircraft on deck. Triumph
, escorted by the veteran destroyer , who would also act as an escort to Triumphs sister-ship , was refuelled and reprovisioned at the Royal Australian Naval
The Royal Australian Navy is the naval branch of the Australian Defence Force. Following the Federation of Australia in 1901, the ships and resources of the separate colonial navies were integrated into a national force: the Commonwealth Naval Forces...
base at Kure
is a city in Hiroshima prefecture, Japan.As of October 1, 2010, the city has an estimated population of 240,820 and a population density of 681 persons per km². The total area is 353.74 km².- History :...
, Japan. The C class
The C class was a class of 32 destroyers of the Royal Navy that were launched from 1943 to 1945. The class was built in four flotillas of 8 vessels, the Ca, Ch, Co and Cr classes, ordered as the 11th, 12th, 13th and 14th Emergency Flotillas respectively...
destroyer and the cruiser , who would both have prominent roles during the Korean War, as well as the Australian
The River class frigate was a class of 151 frigates launched between 1941 and 1944 for use as anti-submarine convoy escorts in the North Atlantic....
A frigate is any of several types of warship, the term having been used for ships of various sizes and roles over the last few centuries.In the 17th century, the term was used for any warship built for speed and maneuverability, the description often used being "frigate-built"...
, and the Royal Fleet Auxiliary
The Royal Fleet Auxiliary is a civilian-manned fleet owned by the British Ministry of Defence. The RFA enables ships of the United Kingdom Royal Navy to maintain operations around the world. Its primary role is to supply the Royal Navy with fuel, ammunition and supplies, normally by replenishment...
A tanker is a ship designed to transport liquids in bulk. Major types of tankship include the oil tanker, the chemical tanker, and the liquefied natural gas carrier.-Background:...
Wave Conqueror, joined
Triumph as she left the base.
The following day, she and her escorts, headed for Okinawa, refuelling at the American base there. Then they proceeded to western Korean waters, where other Royal Navy warships were converging. At this time, she was the sole RN carrier in the Far East. She was thus destined to have a vital role in the early months of the Korean War. After joining the US Fleet, 827 Naval Air Squadron
827 Naval Air Squadron was an aircraft squadron of the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm during World War II. It operated Fairey Barracudas starting in May 1943, becoming the first squadron to receive Barracudas in any substantial number....
, part of Triumphs air group, commenced operations with a number of vintage Seafires
The Supermarine Seafire was a naval version of the Supermarine Spitfire specially adapted for operation from aircraft carriers. The name Seafire was arrived at by collapsing the longer name Sea Spitfire.-Origins of the Seafire:...
, a naval variant of the iconic Spitfire
The Supermarine Spitfire is a British single-seat fighter aircraft that was used by the Royal Air Force and many other Allied countries throughout the Second World War. The Spitfire continued to be used as a front line fighter and in secondary roles into the 1950s...
, and which saw much action during the closing years of the Second World War. She also flew Fireflies
The Fairey Firefly was a British Second World War-era carrier-borne fighter aircraft and anti-submarine aircraft of the Fleet Air Arm ....
during the initial operations of the Korean War, which were of a similar age.
The Seafires and Fireflies of Triumph
, in conjunction with aircraft from the American carrier , hit airfields at Pyongyang
Pyongyang is the capital of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, commonly known as North Korea, and the largest city in the country. Pyongyang is located on the Taedong River and, according to preliminary results from the 2008 population census, has a population of 3,255,388. The city was...
Haeju is a city located in South Hwanghae Province near Haeju Bay in North Korea. It is the administrative centre of South Hwanghae Province. As of 2000, the population of the city is estimated to be 236,000. At the beginning of 20th century, it became a strategic port in Sino-Korean trade...
on 3 July, the first carrier strikes of the war, with Triumph
launching twelve Fireflies and nine Seafires, all armed with rockets, against Heaju. The Seafires, though agile and fast, had an appearance that was a liability when operating with allied forces. The aircraft had a remarkable similarity to the Yak-9
The Yakovlev Yak-9 was a single-engine fighter aircraft used by the Soviet Union in World War II and after. Fundamentally a lighter development of the Yak-7 with the same armament, it arrived at the front at the end of 1942. The Yak-9 had a lowered rear fuselage decking and all-around vision canopy...
, a WW2 Soviet
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....
A fighter aircraft is a military aircraft designed primarily for air-to-air combat with other aircraft, as opposed to a bomber, which is designed primarily to attack ground targets...
, in service with the North Korean forces. Such similarities would play to an almost tragic incident further into Triumph's
deployment during the Korean War.
On 19 July 1950, Lieutenant P. Cane, flying a Sea Otter
|-Survivors:No museum holds a complete aircraft. Australia's Museum of Flight has the nose section of JN200, a Sea Otter which served with the Royal Australian Navy.-See also:-References:...
, an air-sea rescue
Air-sea rescue is the coordinated search and rescue of the survivors of emergency water landings as well as people who have survived the loss of their sea-going vessel. ASR can involve a wide variety of resources including seaplanes, helicopters, submarines, rescue boats and ships...
aircraft, performed the last operational sea rescue of that type, when a F4U Corsair
The Vought F4U Corsair was a carrier-capable fighter aircraft that saw service primarily in World War II and the Korean War. Demand for the aircraft soon overwhelmed Vought's manufacturing capability, resulting in production by Goodyear and Brewster: Goodyear-built Corsairs were designated FG and...
had been shot down by anti-aircraft fire, forcing the American pilot to ditch into very rough seas. The Sea Otter landed despite the adverse conditions and the American pilot was soon rescued. The Sea Otter returned to Triumph
successfully, thanks mainly to the skill of the pilot, who was awarded the US Air Medal
The Air Medal is a military decoration of the United States. The award was created in 1942, and is awarded for meritorious achievement while participating in aerial flight.-Criteria:...
as a result.
On 28 July, an almost tragic event occurred, when a flight of Seafires were deployed to an area to investigate possible enemy air activity. They discovered that the activity was a flight of American B-29 bombers. One of the Seafires was hit by one of the bombers in its fuel tank forcing the pilot to bail out and land in terrible sea conditions. Rescue by Sea Otter was impossible due to the appalling conditions. The pilot was forced to wait about an hour until he was rescued by the American destroyer .
Further Combat Air Patrol (CAP) and anti-submarine operations continued until she left Korean waters for Kure in Japan, where she spent her eight days there in refit. On 9 July, Triumph
was back on the west coast of Korea, accompanied by the cruiser , the destroyer and two Canadian warships, and . Seafires launched numerous Photographic Reconnaissance (PR) operations around areas such as Mokpo
Mokpo is a city in South Jeolla Province, South Korea, on the southwestern tip of the Korean Peninsula. Mokpo has frequent train service to Seoul and is the terminus for a number of ferry routes serving islands in the adjacent Yellow Sea...
, Kunsan, Chinnam, as well as Incheon
The Incheon Metropolitan City is located in northwestern South Korea. The city was home to just 4,700 people when Jemulpo port was built in 1883. Today 2.76 million people live in the city, making it Korea’s third most populous city after Seoul and Busan Metropolitan City...
. Over the next few days, Seafires destroyed two North Korean gunboat
A gunboat is a naval watercraft designed for the express purpose of carrying one or more guns to bombard coastal targets, as opposed to those military craft designed for naval warfare, or for ferrying troops or supplies.-History:...
s, attacked railway tracks, small coaster vessels and oil tanks.
On 23 August, Triumph
, with just nine operational aircraft left, returned to Sasebo, Japan, where she joined two other carriers, Valley Forge
and . While in harbour the North Koreans launched an unexpected air attack, hitting Comus
, causing damage to her hull and killing one sailor in the process. She was escorted to Kure for repair by her sister-ship Consort
. This caused the carriers to be extra vigilant in the aftermath of the attack, with an increase in CAP operations.
On 29 August, another incident occurred, when a Fairey Firefly landed without an arrestor hook and was stopped by the safety barrier. A large piece of propeller blade broke off, hurtled towards the surface of the Flying Control position, breaking the glass of the Operations Room and entering the room with tragic consequences, striking Lieutenant Commander I. M. McLachlan, the Commanding Officer of 800 Naval Air Squadron, who later died from the injuries sustained in this freak incident. He was buried at sea off the coast of South Korea with full Naval Honours.
On 30 August, after a four day patrol, Triumph
returned to Sasebo, where she received 14 aircraft from the support carrier . On 3 September, Triumph
departed Sasebo for the West Coast of Korea. When she got there, her aircraft performed the now routine CAP missions along with reconnaissance duties and bombardment spotting for the Fiji
-class cruiser HMS Jamaica
and the destroyer .
After 6 September, Triumph
, accompanied by Athabaskan
and and , proceeded to the east coast of Korea to replace the carriers of the US 7th Fleet. Operations commenced on the 8th, with Fireflies and Seafires attacking numerous targets, causing much havoc for the North Korean forces.
On the 9th, bad weather forced operations to limit themselves to just eight sorties, with four Fireflies attacking the airfield at Koryo
Koryo may refer to:*The Goryeo Dynasty of Korea. It is spelt Koryŏ in McCune-Reischauer Romanization.*Koryo, a pumsae in Taekwondo.*Kōryō, Nara, a town in Japan.*Air Koryo, a North Korean airline company....
, causing a large amount of damage. 800 NAS's aircraft was decreased yet again, now to just six aircraft, after four others had been written off. The following day, Triumph
returned once again to Sasebo.
On 12 September, Triumph
departed Sasebo, accompanied by Warramunga
and the Royal Navy C
-class destroyers - Charity
, and . Their objective, though unknown to the crews of the ships at that time, was to cover the landings at Incheon. The group, part of CTF 91, a Commonwealth Task Force
The Commonwealth of Nations, normally referred to as the Commonwealth and formerly known as the British Commonwealth, is an intergovernmental organisation of fifty-four independent member states...
, was joined by the cruiser and RAN warship, Bataan
, and was now known as the Northern Group. There was also a much smaller Southern Group which comprised HMC Ships - Athabaskan
, and Sioux
aircraft provided vital air cover for the attacking forces in the first few days before the landings. After the landings took place, Triumph
and her accompanying escort, provided anti-submarine patrols, while her aircraft commenced interdiction and spotting operations. The latter operations proved very successful, with Fireflies spotting for the cruisers HMS Jamaica
and . Thanks to the spotting by the Fireflies, Jamaica
launched a devastating bombardment on North Korean positions, destroying a hidden cache of weapons, which resulted in the top of a hill being completely obliterated, creating a large plume of smoke that reached 8,000 feet.
The end of the day's operations led to a message to the commander of the Commonwealth, Admiral Andrewes, from the United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...
' overall commander, General Douglas MacArthur
General of the Army Douglas MacArthur was an American general and field marshal of the Philippine Army. He was a Chief of Staff of the United States Army during the 1930s and played a prominent role in the Pacific theater during World War II. He received the Medal of Honor for his service in the...
, "My heartiest felicitations on the splendid conduct of the Fleet units under your command. They have added another glamorous page to the long and brilliant histories of the Navies of the British Commonwealth."
By the end of D-Day
D-Day is a term often used in military parlance to denote the day on which a combat attack or operation is to be initiated. "D-Day" often represents a variable, designating the day upon which some significant event will occur or has occurred; see Military designation of days and hours for similar...
an astonishing 13,000 troops and all their equipment had been landed. On 17 September, North Korean aircraft bombed the American warship , as well as strafing the British cruiser Jamaica
, killing one and wounding two. Shortly afterwards, both warships managed to carry out a brief bombardment of North Korean troops.
On 21 September, Triumph
entered Sasebo for the last time in her deployment during the Korean War. She spent two days there in dry dock for temporary repairs, before departing for Hong Kong on 25 September, her role in the conflict being replaced by .
Remainder of service
After her Korean service Triumph
was selected as the replacement for as a Cadet Training Ship. She carried two terms each of 100 RN and Commonwealth cadets on three cruises each year, in the Spring to the West Indies, in the summer to Scandinavia and around the UK, and in the autumn to the Mediterranean. She carried three Sea Balliol
|-See also:-References:NotesBibliography* Donald, David, ed. The Encyclopedia of World Aircraft. London: Aerospace Publishing, 1997. ISBN 1-85605-375-X....
aircraft with which to inculcate air-mindedness in the cadets.
In 1952, HMS Triumph
was used for the first trials of an angled flight deck. Her original deck markings were obliterated and replaced with new ones at an angle to the long axis of the ship. The success of these trials led to the development of the now standard design, with additional areas of the flight deck added to the port side of the ship.
In 1954 she was diverted to ferry survivors of the troopship Empire Windrush
from North Africa to Gibraltar for repatriation. In 1955 she replaced on a 'goodwill' visit to Leningrad. This terminated in her Captain, Varyl Begg, carrying out a sternboard down the Neva against a beam gale after her hastily Soviet-laid sternbuoy had dragged. Her cadet training duties ended with the autumn cruise of 1955, when changes in the system of training RN officers rendered her redundant. Shortly before arriving home to Devonport, HMS Triumph
executed the last axial-deck landing in the RN.
was then converted, between 1956 and 1965, into a Heavy Repair Ship, emerging from the work with the pendant number A108
was based in Singapore
Singapore , officially the Republic of Singapore, is a Southeast Asian city-state off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, north of the equator. An island country made up of 63 islands, it is separated from Malaysia by the Straits of Johor to its north and from Indonesia's Riau Islands by the...
after her conversion, being involved in a major exercise in 1968 in the Far East, with numerous capital ships from the United Kingdom and other nations taking part, as well as dozens of destroyers and frigates. Triumph
was used as a heavy repair and transport ship for troops. In 1975 Triumph
was paid off and held in reserve at Chatham Dockyard
Chatham Dockyard, located on the River Medway and of which two-thirds is in Gillingham and one third in Chatham, Kent, England, came into existence at the time when, following the Reformation, relations with the Catholic countries of Europe had worsened, leading to a requirement for additional...
where she was used as a backdrop for the annual Navy Days, and in 1981 she was struck and subsequently scrapped in Spain.