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NavSource Online: Escort Carrier Photo Archive

(later CVE-22)

Contributed by Tommy Trampp

Battle Honours

Atlantic 1943–1944 — Aegean 1944 — South France 1944 — Norway 1944–1945
Displacement 7,800 Tons, Dimensions, 495' 8" (oa) x 69' 6" x 26' (Max)
Armament 2 x 5"/51 4 x 40mm, 10 x 20mm, 28 Aircraft.
Machinery, 8,500 SHP; Allis-Chambers, Geared Turbines, 1 screw
Speed, 17.5 Knots, Crew 890.
Fate: Stricken, 7 February 1946 (Navy Dept. Bulletin, 46-316, p. 14). August 1952: Sold to Greece, converted to freighter by Savannah Machine & Foundry Co., Savannah, GA, and renamed Captain Theo (Liberian flag). November 1957: Lengthened by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd., Kobe. 1964: Sold to C. Y. Tung, Hong Kong, renamed Oriental Banker. July 1976: Scrapped at Kaohsiung, Taiwan.

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HMS Searcher (D40)
CVE-22 / HMS Searcher

Four photos taken aboard HMS Searcher during her first voyage from Portland, Oregon to Liverpool, April–August 1943. The "burning tanker" (NS0302203b) belonged to convoy HX246, from New York City to Liverpool. John hitched a ride home from Portland, where he had been living.

John Chalmers
CVE-22 / HMS Searcher
CVE-22 / HMS Searcher
CVE-22 / HMS Searcher
CVE-22 /HMS Searcher

Starboard view underway.

Courtesy of Tony Drury, Royal Navy Escort Carriers
CVE-22 / HMS Searcher

HMS Searcher with a convoy.

Robert Hurst
CVE-22 / HMS Searcher

HMS Searcher with Wildcats ranged forward.

Courtesy of Tony Drury, Royal Navy Escort Carriers
Larger copy submitted by Gerhard Mueller‑Debus
CVE-22 / HMS Searcher

HMS Searcher, date and location unknown.

Gerhard Mueller‑Debus
CVE-22 / HMS Searcher

Undated pic of the escort carrier HMS Searcher (D40) tied to a mooring buoy, location unknown. Photo taken by an unknown Royal Navy official photographer. Photo # FL 18881 from the collections of the Imperial War Museums.

Robert Hurst
CVE-22/HMS Searcher

HMS Searcher (D40) plowing through heavy seas off the Norwegian northern coast in April 1944.

Source: Imperial War Museums, Admiralty Official Collection by Davies, F.A (Lt), Photo No. © IWM(A 23065).

Mike Green
CVE-19 Prince William/HMS Striker

As seen from HMS Pursuer (D73), HMS Striker (D12), HMS Searcher (D40) in heavy seas off the Norwegian northern coast in April 1944.

Source: Imperial War Museums, Admiralty Official Collection by Davies, F.A (Lt), Photo No. © IWM(A 23066).

Mike Green
CVE-22 / HMS Searcher

"Wildcat VI of 882 Squadron on board HMS Searcher, 1945."

Sidney C. Hart, son of Hubert Raymond Hart
CVE-22 / HMS Searcher

Searcher, underway with a deck load of aircraft.

This picture was taken during Operation Tungsten, an attack by FAA Barracudas on the German battleship Tirpitz mounted simultaneously with the running of convoy JW58 to Murmansk. Her Wildcats, which can be seen here, joined FAA Corsairs and Hellcats in providing fighter cover for the attacking bombers. (Thanks to Robert Hurst).

Bastian CVE-37/HMS Trumpeter

Operation Judgement, May 4, 1945, an attack on the U-boat base at Kilbotn, near Harstad, Norway. This proved to be the last offensive operation by the Home Fleet, as the war in Europe ended just a few days later.

The main targets of the attack are, in fact, hidden behind water columns and smoke in the center of the photo. They were the depot ship Black Watch and the Type VIIC submarine U-711 — they were both sunk. The ship visible in the center of the pic is in all probability the motor vessel Senja, also sunk in this attack but raised and repaired after the war. U-711 was the last U-boat sunk by the Fleet Air Arm in WW2. Note, on the lower left corner, part of the wing of an attacking aircraft; the ship visible just above and forward of the wing tip is the old Norwegian coastal defense ship Harald Hårfrage (commissioned in 1897), then in German hands and converted into a floating anti-aircraft battery — she was not considered a worthy target.

Operation Judgement was a repetition of Operation Newmarket (April 1945), intended to destroy the depot and store ships used to support the U-boat attacks on the convoys to North Russia, but cancelled because weather prevented aircraft from taking off. In May, however, the weather was perfect (as can be deduced from the photo) and the attack was carried out by Avenger torpedo-bombers and Wildcat fighters from Squadrons 846 (HMS Trumpeter, Capt. K. S. Colquhoun), 853 (HMS Queen, Capt. K. J. D'Arcy), and 882 (HMS Searcher, Capt. J. W. Grant).

John Pine explains: "I discovered this picture amongst family papers. It was in a big brown envelope addressed to "C in C H F" (Admiral [Sir Henry R.] Moore). My father was in charge of his staff. On the back of the photograph is typed 'Photographic Section H.M.S. Trumpeter'."

John Pine
Commercial Service
CVE-22/HMS Searcher

Ex-HMS Searcher as Captain Theo in the port of Cape Town, South Africa. Exact date unknown, but taken before the vessel was lengthened in 1957. Compare to later photo as Oriental Banker, below.

(© Bill Schell. Used with permission.)

Photo by Alex Duncan.

Submitted by Gerhard Mueller-Debus
CVE-22/HMS Searcher

Undated photo of ex-HMS Searcher as Captain Theo, then owned by Theophilos J. Vatis of Greece. Location unknown.

Submitted by Gerhard Mueller-Debus
CVE-22/HMS Searcher

Undated photo of ex-HMS Searcher as Captain Theo, then owned by Theophilos J. Vatis of Greece. Location unknown.

Submitted by Gerhard Mueller-Debus
CVE-22/HMS Searcher

Captain Theo—ex-HMS Searcher (D40), ex-American CVE-22—after lengthening. Photo taken by Walter E. Frost, Vancouver, BC.

Submitted by Gerhard Mueller-Debus
CVE-22/HMS Searcher

Ex-HMS Searcher as Captain Theo (Liberian flag) in the port of Bremen, Germany, April 1964.

Photo by Gerhard Mueller‑Debus
CVE-22/HMS Searcher
92k Ex-HMS Searcher as Oriental Banker, date and place unknown. Compare to earlier photo as Captain Theo, above. Photo by Eric Johnson.
Submitted by Gerhard Mueller‑Debus

Read the CVE-22 / HMS SEARCHER (D40) History,
by Tony Drury, Royal Navy Escort Carriers

Crew Contact And Reunion Information

Not Applicable To This Ship
Additional Resources
Hazegray & Underway World Aircraft Carrier Pages By Andrew Toppan.
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Last update: 11 June 2021