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M.V. Pretoria Castle (I)

M.V. Pretoria Castle (I)

As a Armed Merchant Cruiser 1940' but experience soon showed that the employment of large liners as Armed Merchant Cruisers was both unsatisfactory and also uneconomical' the size of these ships made too bigger target' the Pretoria Castle was purchased by the Admiralty and after spending months in the ship yards she emerged in July 1943 unrecognisable, as a Aircraft carrier, my father sailed on this ship.

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From a photo I saw in S/N, she looks too much altered! I wonder how much time it took to convert her back to passenger carrier!!

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She was sold to the Admiralty on 16 July 1942 for conversion into an Aircraft Carrier by Swan Hunter. As such she was:-
19,950 tons displacement (standard) 23,450 tons (full load). Flight deck 550 feet with one catapult capable of launching 14,000 pounds at 66 knots. One lift 45 feet x 34 feet capable of taking 15,000 pounds. Aircraft complement varied, but nominaly 15 aircraft. Stowage for 74,000 gallons of aviation spirit. Defensive armament 4 x 4 inch Mark XVI high angle guns plus 14 twin Oerlikon 20 mm AA guns.
The conversion to HMS Pretoria Castle was completed on 18 March 1943 and she was commisioned on 9 April 1943. As she was still capable of 18 knots she was two or three kots faster than any of the other Escort Carriers. As a result she was a slightly safer vessel for air operations and spent the entire war as a training ship for Fleet Air Arm pilots.
At the end of the war, most of the other surviving Union Castle passenger liners were still engaged in troop movements. Pretoria Castle was immediately returned to Union Castle, being handed over to Harland & Woolf in January 1946 for conversion to her original specification. She was renamed Warwick Castle and began operations on the Mail Service on 13 March 1947. It was 1950 before there were sufficient larger liners available to allow Warwick Castle to resume employment on the Round Africa Service. She was scrapped in Spain in 1962.


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Hi all,
I sailed on her last passenger voyage round Africa as one of her Assistant 'Chippy's'. She had a remarkable life and many years later I found that my Brother, also a M.N Ships Carpenter had sailed on her about 11 years before.
We were both named R. Neale, so we had a family conection with her !

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