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NavSource Online: Escort Carrier Photo Archive


Contributed by Tommy Trampp

Battle Honours

Atlantic 1944
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: 1948: Converted to a cargo ship, renamed Artillero (Argentinian flag). 1965: Presidente García (Philippine flag). July 1967: Aground near Guernsey, Channel Islands. Heavily damaged. Refloated and towed to Rotterdam. December 1967: Scrapped at Hamburg, Germany.

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ACV-52 (later CVE-52) was named Vermillion, for a bay (frequently spelled Vermilion, with only one "L") located in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana, southeast of Vermilion Parish and southwest of Iberia Parish (NS0310821, courtesy of Google Maps).

Assigned to Great Britain, 23 June 1943, was accepted on 20 January 1944 and commissioned in the Royal Navy as HMS Smiter. A Smiter is one who strikes with a heavy blow or blows. The official ship's badge (NS0305210, courtesy of Tommy Trampp) has a sword, the weapon of a warrior, that symbolizes protection, strength, and courage; and a club, a crude weapon delivering stunning blows.

HMS Smiter (D55)
Vermillion (CVE-52)/HMS Smiter

Bow view of HMS Smiter (D55) as seen from a Fairey Swordfish torpedo bomber, immediately after it took off on a training mission, 1944.

Imperial War Museums, Admiralty Official Collection, photo # ©IWM (A 27594).

Mike Green
Vermillion (CVE-52)/HMS Smiter

HMS Smiter—ex-Vermillion (CVE-52)—underway circa 1944, location unknown. She is wearing what can only be described as a "reversed" colour scheme where the lighter tones were applied low down near the waterline and the darker tones higher up. Imperial War Museum photo # A27601.

Photo from Naval Camouflage 1914–1945, A Complete Visual Reference, by David Williams.

Robert Hurst
Vermillion (CVE-52)/HMS Smiter

A Royal Navy Supermarine Seafire F.Mk.III with its nose resting on the flight deck of HMS Smiter (D55) after a heavy landing during exercises in 1944. Photo taken by an unidentified Royal Navy Official photographer.

Photo No. A27603 from the collections of the Imperial War Museums.

Robert Hurst
Vermillion (CVE-52)/HMS Smiter

Port side view of HMS Smiter (D55) moored at Greenock, Scotland, on 29 July 1944.

Imperial War Museums Admiralty Official Collection, by Coote, R.G.G. (Lt.), photo # ©IWM (A 25023).

Mike Green
Vermillion (CVE-52)/HMS Smiter

Port side view of HMS Smiter (D55) anchored at Gareloch, Scotland, on 17 August 1944.

Imperial War Museums Admiralty Official Collection, photo # ©IWM (A 25294).

Mike Green
Vermillion (CVE-52)/HMS Smiter

HMS Smiter, ex-Vermillion (CVE-52) anchored at Gareloch, Scotland, 17 August 1944. (Thanks to Mike Green for the date/location information.)

Imperial War Museums Admiralty Official Collection, photo # ©IWM (A 25295).

Robert Hurst
Vermillion (CVE-52)/HMS Smiter

A Fleet Air Arm Corsair after flipping over on landing. The original description is as follows: "The pilot of this Vought Corsair fighter which crashed through the barrier of HMS Smiter when landing on and ended upside down resting at around forty five degrees, escaped with only a bruised thumb. This took place during operations against Sakishima in support of the American landing on Okinawa." Image taken by unknown Royal Navy official photographer.

Photo No. A29168 from the collections of the Imperial War Museums.

Robert Hurst
Vermillion (CVE-52)/HMS Smiter

Crew of HMS Smiter (D55), date and location unknown.

Elaine Fairhurst, daughter of CPO C.D. Appleton, explains: "My dad was part of the crew which went to Seattle to collect the Aircraft Carrier and was also docked when the Japanese signed the treaty to surrender (VJ-day). They ferried POWs from Japan to Cyprus, giving up their bunks while the crew slept on the deck. They were in the Middle East on their way to Australia and were turned back when the war ended and went back to Hong Kong. Dad served in the RN Fleet Air Arm 1940–1945 and 1947–1952."

"He also served on HMS Victoria Castle (Iceland), HMS Pretoria Castle, HMS Daedalus, HMS Ocean and (I think!) HMS Fencer)."

Elaine Fairhurst,
daughter of C D Appleton (CPO) (known as Doug or Douggie)
Vermillion (CVE-52)/HMS Smiter

Petty Officer James Elliott, from Belfast, served aboard HMS Smiter (D55) during World War II. This photo was taken in New York soon after the end of the war.

Clive Elliott, son of James Elliott
Commercial Service
Vermillion (CVE-52)/HMS Smiter

Ex-Vermillion, ex-HMS Smiter, as the Argentinean-flagged Artillero. Location is annotated to be Searsport, Maine. Date unknown.

Gerhard Mueller‑Debus
Vermillion (CVE-52)/HMS Smiter

Ex-Vermillion, ex-HMS Smiter, as the Argentinean-flagged Artillero, in the background. Bremen, Germany, October 1960. (Newspaper clipping.)

Gerhard Mueller‑Debus
Vermillion (CVE-52)/HMS Smiter

The Argentinian-flagged C-3 freighter Artillero—ex-Vermillion (CVE-52), ex-HMS Smiter—leaving Rotterdam, The Netherlands, around 1960–61. Photo copyrighted originally by F. Sherlock.

Gerhard Mueller‑Debus
Vermillion (CVE-52)/HMS Smiter

Ex-Vermillion, ex-HMS Smiter, as the Argentinean freighter Artillero, working cargo in the port of Bremen, Germany, July 1961. (Newspaper clipping.)

In July 1967 the vesel (by then the Philippine-flagged Presidente García) ran aground in the English Channel on her way from Cebu to Rotterdam. She was refloated shortly afterwards, but repairs were deemed uneconomical. Therefore, after discharge of her cargo at Rotterdam, the vessel was sold and scrapped at Hamburg, Germany.

Gerhard Mueller‑Debus

For more information and photos of this ship, see:

View This Vessels DANFS History Entry
(Located On The Hazegray & Underway Web Site, This Is The Main Archive For The DANFS Online Project.)

Crew Contact And Reunion Information

Not Applicable To This Ship
Additional Resources
Hazegray & Underway World Aircraft Carrier Pages by Andrew Toppan
HMS Smiter, Royal Navy Escort Carriers, by Tony Drury

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Last update: 15 December 2018