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Port Vindex

Port Vindex

Built 1943-44.
10,489grt. L. 524ft. b. 68.5ft
Speed 16 knots.
Broken up 1968.
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A ship with a history. She was a WW2 escort carrier. At one time the crews were especially trained to operating at night, on Russian convoys. Twin screw and was sent around the long way during the Cuban crisis. She also carried the two Aust America yatchs, Gretel and Vim back to Aust. She had the odd engine problems on her so we crossed the pacific before she did. She did look as a nice ship.
Jim B
 

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"Port Vindex"

This ship was the second in the "Port Napier" series to become an aircraft carrier. Laid down by Swan Hunter & Wigham Richardson in 1941 at Wallsend, she was launched in May 1943. The vessel was taken over while fitting out and completed in November 1943 as H.M. Aircraft Carrier Vindex. She displaced 13,455 tons.
The ship saw much strenuous and dangerous service mainly on the Russian convoy service to Murmansk. She served as flagship for the escort of these convoys in October and November 1944 and in April and May 1945 did similar service as the flagship of the Rear-Admiral commanding the Squadron.
HMAS Vindex then went out to join the British Naval Forces in the Far East and at one time was the flagship of Rear-Admiral Cunninghame Graham. Later in 1945 she sailed for Sydney NSW where she dis-embarked her aircraft and became the first aircraft carrier to be used for repatriating released British prisoners-of-war from Tokyo. She made five similar trips between July 1945 and July 1945.
HMS Vindex then returned to the United Kingdom and for some months was in reserve in the Firth of Forth. During this time she was purchased by Port Line in August 1947 and towed to the Tyne to be converted into a merchant ship by Swan Hunter & Wigham Richardson's yard. The removal of her flight deck and hanger deck involved cutting away many hundreds of tons of steel and the discharge of some 22,000 buoyancy drums and over 2,000 tons of pig-iron ballast and it was not until June 1949 that this work was completed and she sailed on her first maiden voyage as a merchant ship to Australia.
After finishing her first voyage she returned to the builders who completed the insulation of the holds for carrying all types of refrigerated cargoes. It was not until August 1950 that she paid her first visit to New Zealand.
The name "Port Vindex" is a departure from her owners usual practice of calling their vessels after ports in Australia, New Zealand or east coast ports of Canada. But it was felt that her special war service warranted this variation. The ships bell, engraved HMS Vindex was purchased from the Admiralty and in addition the Vindex crest is also on board. Her crews recreation-room was panelled with solid oak, taken from the saloon and master's accommodation of the old "Port Melbourne" which was being broken up at Blyth in 1948 at the time the "Port Vindex was under reconstruction.

Quite a ship with fine war record, during her time on the Murmansk run her aircraft were credited with the sinking of at least 4 German U-Boats and in co-operation with other carriers shared another 7 U-Boats.
 

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I was aboard her in Kingston, Jamacia swopping paperbacks in 1971. (Didnt realise then she was so near scrapping). Some of the framed drawings in the alleyways still showed her as carrier if I remember correctly. It was like stepping back in time aboard her. What an engineroom..twin centre scavenge LB Doxfords. D.C. Electrics. Just like my first ships in Ellermans !!!
Tim
 

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I went to New Zealand on her in '67. The engine used to break down every day around midday in the Pacific big cloud of steam & black smoke out of the stack. Happy days, if I remember we all got the sack most off the line at the end I went on to The Port Wellington to work by for 2 weeks after.
 

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I was 2nd Mate on this ship for her final voyage. All three mates were on loan from Ellerman;s Wilson Line for some reason. We joined her on 14th July 1971 in London's Royal Docks where she was discharging New Zealand lamb. We sailed from London bound for Durban for bunkering and then across the Indian Ocean to the Sunda Strait and onwards to Taiwan. We arrived at Kaohsiung on 23rd August 1971and left the ship the following day to fly home.
 

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