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NavSource Online: Escort Carrier Photo Archive

USS CROATAN   (ACV-14)  /  HMS FENCER   (D64)
(later CVE-14)


Contributed by Tommy Trampp



Battle Honours

Atlantic 1943-1944 — Norway 1944 — Arctic 1944 — Pacific 1945

Attacker (US Bogue) Class Escort Carrier
Ordered Laid down Launched Commissioned Returned to US Stricken
- 5 Sep 1941 4 Apr 1942 20 Feb 1943 11 Dec 1946 28 Jan 1947
Builder: Western Pipe & Steel Corporation, San Francisco, Calif.

Specifications
(As converted, 1943)
Displacement: 7,800 tons standard; 14,170 tons full load
Dimensions (wl): 465' x 69.5' x 24' 8"  /  141.7 x 21.2 x 7.5 meters
Dimensions (max.): 495' 8" x 111.5'  /  151.1 x 34 meters
Armor: None
Power plant: 2 boilers (285 psi); 1 steam turbine; 1 shaft; 8,500 shp
Speed: 18+ knots
Endurance: 27,300 nautical miles @ 11 knots
Armament: 2 single 4"/50 gun mounts; 4 twin 40-mm/56-cal gun mounts; 8 twin and 10 single 20-mm/70-cal gun mounts
Aircraft: 15+
Aviation facilities: 2 elevators; 1 hydraulic catapult (H 2); 9 arresting wires and 3 barriers
Crew: 646

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Name
Croatan Sound
NS0301425
92k

In the US Navy, AVG-14 was named Croatan, for a sound of the North Carolina coast.

Transferred to the United Kingdom under Lend-Lease, 27 February 1943, she served as HMS Fencer. (The name Croatan was subsequently assigned to AVG-25.)

(Map courtesy of Google Maps.)

NavSource
USS Croatan (ACV-14)
USS Croatan
NS0301426
81k

"NAVAL AUXILIARY LAUNCHED—The naval auxiliary, U.S.S. Croatan, hits the water as the craft was launched April 4 at the Western Pipe & Steel Company in San Francisco. The Croatan, named after Croatan Sound on the North Carolina coastline, will go into service with the fleet." Associated Press Photo, 1942.

Ron Reeves
Tommy Trampp
HMS Fencer (D64 / R308)
Croatan (CVE-14) / HMS Fencer
NS0301402
85k Undated, bows on view from the water line. IWM
Croatan (CVE-14) / HMS Fencer
NS0301413
53k

HMS Fencer (D64), ex-USS Croatan (ACV-14), date and location unknown.

Gerhard Mueller‑Debus
Croatan (CVE-14) / HMS Fencer
NS0301417
85k

Undated photo of three Fairey Swordfish Mk IIs of No. 842 Squadron on the flight-deck of the escort carrier HMS Fencer, well chocked and with their vitals covered against the Atlantic weather. 842 Squadron, was one of the hard-worked composite units engaged principally on convoy escort work, spending virtually all of its time afloat embarked in Fencer. Photo Courtesy Bill Penlington/Bruce Vibert.

Photo and text from Swordfish: From The Cockpit, by Donald Payne.

Robert Hurst
Croatan (CVE-14) / HMS Fencer
NS0301420
129k

Another undated view from the flight deck of the escort carrier HMS Fencer with 842's Swordfish Mk IIs in the background. Photo Courtesy Bill Penlington/Bruce Vibert.

Photo and text from Swordfish: From The Cockpit, by Donald Payne.

Robert Hurst
Croatan (CVE-14) / HMS Fencer
NS0301422
191k

HMS Fencer (D64), ex-USS Croatan (ACV-14), crash on deck. Date and location unknown.

Courtesy of Tony Drury, Royal Navy Escort Carriers
Croatan (CVE-14) / HMS Fencer
NS0301415
61k

HMS Fencer (D64) at anchor, circa 1943–1946. Photo taken by an unknown Royal Navy official photographer. Photo id: FL 13104 from the photographic collections of the Imperial War Museum.

Robert Hurst
Croatan (CVE-14) / HMS Fencer
NS0301407
113k

Stern view of HMS Fencer, ex-USS Croatan (ACV-14), in San Francisco Bay on 26 March 1943. US Navy photo #2051-43.

Darryl Baker
Croatan (CVE-14) / HMS Fencer
NS0301408
106k

Broadside view of HMS Fencer, ex-USS Croatan (ACV-14), in San Francisco Bay on 26 March 1943. US Navy photo #2052-43.

Darryl Baker
Croatan (CVE-14) / HMS Fencer
NS0301406
39k March 26, 1943, as completed (thanks to Robert Hurst). Haze Gray & Underway
Croatan (CVE-14) / HMS Fencer
NS0301410
59k

HMS Fencer (D64), ex-USS Croatan (CVE-14), as seen from a sister ship, plows through rough seas during Arctic convoy operations. Photo Crown copyright.

Robert Hurst
Croatan (CVE-14) / HMS Fencer
NS0301411
65k

Undated wartime photo of the escort carrier HMS Fencer's flight deck being cleared of snow and ice in order to permit flying, while escorting an Arctic convoy to Russia. Note the two Wildcats with wings folded, and the two Sworfdish Mk II TSRs (Torpedo Spotter Reconnaissance) aircraft parked aft, ready for the next sortie. Photo taken by an unknown Royal Navy/Official photographer. Photo No. A. 23575 from the collections of the Imperial War Museums.

Robert Hurst
Croatan (CVE-14) / HMS Fencer
NS0301414
68k

An errant deck landing involving a Swordfish of No. 842 Squadron, rather too far starboard and clipping Fencer's island. The aircraft slewed before coming to a halt and, happily, the crew were unhurt. Despite the camera-shake in pic 1—for which the photographer can be entirely forgiven considering the circumstances—the censor has assidiously erased the still hush-hush strutted mounted ASV array. Photo courtesy Bill Penlington/Bruce Vibert.

Photo and text from Swordfish: From The Cockpit, by Donald Payne.

Robert Hurst
Croatan (CVE-14) / HMS Fencer
NS0301414a
103k
Croatan (CVE-14) / HMS Fencer
NS0301416
70k

An 842 Squadron Swordfish Mk II making, at first glance, a clean landing on board HMS Fencer. Not so: the main wheels have displaced one of the arrester wires, which has thus been missed by the hook. The result is shown in pic [NS0301416a]. Photo courtesy Bill Penlington/Bruce Vibert.

Photo and text from Swordfish: From The Cockpit, by Donald Payne.

Robert Hurst
Croatan (CVE-14) / HMS Fencer
NS0301416a
82k

The same 842 Squadron Swordfish Mk II after crash-landing on board HMS Fencer in December 1943 [(see NS0301416)]. The pilot, sub-Lieutenant Bruce Vibert, and his observer, seen here about to disembark, were unhurt. Photo courtesy Bill Penlington/Bruce Vibert.

Photo and text from Swordfish: From The Cockpit, by Donald Payne.

Croatan (CVE-14) / HMS Fencer
NS0301404
74k

HMS Fencer at sea, in 1944.

Robert Hurst
Croatan (CVE-14) / HMS Fencer
NS0301423
2.49M

HMS Fencer (D64), ex-USS Croatan (ACV-14), seen from the flight deck of HMS Striker (D12) during operations in the Atlantic, February 1944. A Sea Hurricane of 824 Squadron is parked on the aft end of Striker's flight deck. Photo: Richard Webb.

Courtesy of Tony Drury, Royal Navy Escort Carriers
Croatan (CVE-14) / HMS Fencer
NS0301401
45k

HMS Fencer (D64) moored at Greenock, Scotland, 6 March 1944, with Swordfish torpedo-bombers on deck.

Imperial War Museums Admiralty Official Collection, by Beadell, S.J. (Lt), Photo No. © IWM (# A 22177).

Mike Green
Croatan (CVE-14) / HMS Fencer
NS0301424
143k

Shown here is the Type VIIC boat U-674 as seen on 2 May 1944 from a Swordfish aircraft of No.842 Squadron operating from the escort carrier HMS Fencer. U-674 left Narvik on 17 April 1944 on its third war cruise, commanded by Oberleutnant zur See Harald Muhs. The operation took place about 360 miles west of the Lofoten Islands. U-674 was attacked in the early morning with rocket projectiles. All forty-nine crew members were lost. Ref: ADM 199/206.

Photo and text from Ultra Versus U-boats, by Roy Conyers Nesbit (Pen & Sword Books Ltd., 2008).

Robert Hurst
Croatan (CVE-14) / HMS Fencer
NS0301424a
153k

Shown here is the Type VIIC boat U-959 under attack in the early afternoon by a Swordfish aircraft of No. 842 Squadron operating from the escort carrier HMS Fencer. U-959 left Narvik on 22 April 1944, on its second war cruise commanded by Oberleutnant zur See [Friedrich Weitz]. The operation took place about 360 miles west of the Lofoten Islands. The photo shows U-959 being attacked with a stick of three depth charges. All fifty-three crew members were lost. Ref: ADM 199/206

Photo and text from Ultra Versus U-boats, by Roy Conyers Nesbit (Pen & Sword Books Ltd., 2008).

Robert Hurst
Croatan (CVE-14) / HMS Fencer
NS0301412
53k

Russian Admiral A. Levchenko and his son aboard the escort carrier HMS Fencer en route to join HMS Royal Sovereign at Rosyth, Scotland prior to her loan to the Soviet Navy in 1944. Photo Imperial War Museum, London.

Photo and text from Battleships at War: HMS Royal Sovereign and her Sister Ships, by Peter C. Smith.

Robert Hurst
Croatan (CVE-14) / HMS Fencer
NS0301418
80k

A Grumman Avenger of 852 Squadron Fleet Air Arm, landing on HMS Fencer (D64) (September–October 1944?).

Source: Imperial War Museums Admiralty Official Collection by Mason, H.A. (Lt), Photo No.© IWM(A 26133).

Mike Green
Croatan (CVE-14) / HMS Fencer
NS0301409
147k

HMS Fencer (ex-USS Croatan), left, is painted "as delivered," but HMS Striker (ex-Prince William) has the "false hull" scheme already applied. Both ships have arrived in Australia direct from the U.K. to join the British Pacific Fleet (BPF), early 1945.

Courtesy of Tony Drury, Royal Navy Escort Carriers
Croatan (CVE-14) / HMS Fencer
NS0301403
86k

Picture taken Dec. 20, 1945 in Grand Harbour, Malta, when she was trooping. I was aboard her as a passenger.

© Robert M. Morgan

© Robert M. Morgan
Croatan (CVE-14) / HMS Fencer
NS0301421
143k

Ship's crest.

Tommy Trampp
Commercial Service
CVE-14 Croatan/HMS Fencer
NS0301405
112k Ex-USS Croatan, ex-HMS Fencer, as the Italian Caribia 2. Genoa, Italy, April 1973. Photo by Gerhard Mueller-Debus

For more photos and information about this ship, see:

View the USS Croatan (ACV-14 / CVE-14)  /  HMS Fencer (D64)
DANFS History entry located on the Hazegray & Underway Web Site.

Crew Contact and Reunion Information
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Related Links
Hazegray & Underway World Aircraft Carrier Pages, by Andrew Toppan.
Official U.S. Navy Carrier Website
A History of HMS Fencer, by Tony Drury, Royal Navy Escort Carriers

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Last update: 21 July 2018