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HMS Albion

There have been nine ships to bear the illustrious name of Albion from a Third-rate ship of the line to a commando carrier to today's 'Albion' Class LPD's (Landing Platform Dock Ships). The ships motto is "Boldly Faithfully Happily" and each and everyone of the Albion's that has graced the Royal Navy has certainly done that, throughout her successful history.

HMS Albion (1763-1797)

The first HMS Albion was built in 1763 at Deptford being adapted from a design of the old 90-gun warship Neptune which had been built in 1719. She was the name ship of a class of 74-gun Third-rates. She measured 168 feet in length overall, quite minuscule in comparison to today's warships. She saw her first action in the American War of Independence in July 1779 during an indecisive battle of Grenada, when the British Fleet under the command of Vice Admiral Byron managed to avoid defeat from superior French forces. The Albion's next action was a year later on the 15th May when the British and French Fleets met once again off Martinique. After a few days of manoeuvring the head of the British Line confronted the rearmost French warships. The Albion, leading the vanguard of the British Fleet was involved, obviously, in the heaviest of the engagements between the Fleets, suffering heavy casualties, but with little to show for it. Just four days later the two Fleets clashed once again, but for the third time it was indecisive with Albion heavily engaged as before, suffering numerous casualties in the process.

In 1794 the Albion was consigned to the role of a 60-gun floating battery moored on the Thames Estuary, but in April 1797 while heading to a new position in the Swin Channel, ran aground and two days later, during salvage efforts, broke her back and was completely wrecked.

HMS Albion (18??)

The second HMS Albion was a ship-rigged sloop of just 336 tons, and was an ex-merchant vessel bought by the Royal Navy, though she was privately owned in her previous role as a hired armed ship, she was manned by a Royal Navy crew. She had a powerful armament of 22 carronades, and was a competent convoy escort, but was eventually sold in 1803.

HMS Albion (1802-1836)

The third HMS Albion was launched at Perry's Yard at Blackwall on the Thames in June 1802. She was a Third-rate, of 1729 tons with quite a large crew of 590 men. In May the following year she joined Admiral Cornwallis' Fleet, which was blockading the vital French naval port of Brest, but was soon detached from the Fleet to deploy to the Indian Ocean where she was to remain for quite a few years. In 1814 the year that Napoleon was finally toppled, after a long period under extensive repair, once completed, she became flagship of Rear Admiral George Cockburn taking part in a war (war of 1812) against America a duty that the first Albion had once undertook. In the summer of 1814, she was involved in the force that harried the coastline of Chesapeake Bay, where she operated all the way up to the Potomac and Patuxent Rivers, destroying large amounts of American shipping, as well as American government property. The operations ended once peace was declared in 1815. Just a year later, Albion was part of a combined Anglo-Dutch Fleet taking part in that Fleet's bombardment of Algiers, then in 1827 was again part of a combined fleet this time a Anglo-French-Russian Fleet under the command of Admiral Codrington at the Battle of Navarino where a Turkish-Egyptian Fleet was obliterated securing Greek independence. She was hulked as a lazaretto or quarantine ship in 1831 and was finally broken up in 1836.

HMS Albion (1803) and HMS Albion (1808)

Both the fourth and fifth Albions were in service, while the third was still in commission. They were both cutters, being hired between 1803 and 1808, with the second from 1808 to 1812. They were quite tiny with a displacement of 80 tons and armed with six 4-pounder guns, with a small complement of 25 sailors.

HMS Albion (1842-1884)

The sixth HMS Albion was a Second-rate warship and was the name of the class of 90-gun that included two others - the Aboukir and Exmouth. She was ordered in 1839 and was launched at Plymouth in September 1842, and was 204 feet long, with a displacement of 3083 tons and quite a large crew complement of 830. Her first action was in the Crimean War during the infamous siege of Sevastopol on October 17th 1854. While Albion's commanding officer, Captain Stephen Lushington was commanding a Naval Brigade providing vital heavy artillery support for the Allied forces besieging Sevastopol, Albion under the command of Commander Henry Rogers joined over 50 British and French warships of various types into action. The Russians suffered heavy casualties but the Allies had failed to seriously damaged the batteries. Though the Anglo-French Fleet had received in comparison, lighter casualties, with about 500 killed or wounded in total. The Allies though had been battered by the Russian batteries, indeed Albion had been set on fire three times during the engagement, and without the assistance of the courageous tugs, would surely have succumbed to her damage and ran aground. In 1861 she was converted to a steam screw propulsion at Devonport but the modifications were never finished. She was kept in reserve in Devonport for more than twenty years, before the decision was made to scrap her, with her finally being broken up at Devonport in 1884.

HMS Albion (1898-1919)

The seventh HMS Albion was a 'Canopus' Class pre-dreadnought of approximately 14,000 tonnes, with a main armament of 4 x 12 inch guns and was built by Thames Iron Works, launched in 1898 and commissioned in 1901, serving on the China Station until 1905. She spent the next few years in home waters, until the outbreak of war in 1914, when she proceeded to join the Cape and East Africa Station. In 1915 she, along with others of the 'Canopus' Class were in the Mediterranean, bombarding strategic Turkish positions in the Dardanelles. While doing so, two of her sister ships, His Majesty's Ships Goliath and Ocean were sunk in the engagements and Albion herself, was badly damaged while supporting the Gallipoli landings. The Albion returned home after these damaging engagements in 1916 and was scrapped three years later.

HMS Albion (1947-1973)

The eighth HMS Albion was a 22,000 ton Centaur Class light fleet carrier built on the
Tyne by Swan Hunter & Wigham Richardson. Her keel was laid down in 1944, with her being launched in May 1947, but she was not fully completed until May 1954, and after an initial work up with her air group, joined the Mediterranean Fleet in September that same year, becoming flagship of Flag Officer Aircraft Carriers. Two years later, after refitting at Portsmouth, returned once again to the Mediterranean for operations relating to the Suez Crisis where her air group struck key Egyptian airfields, and covered the paratroopers landings.

In July 1958 the Albion had a sample of what she would one day become, when she embarked 42 Commando, Royal Marines, with all it's vehicles and additional equipment to the Middle East.

The next two years saw her visit the Far East, Australia, New Zealandand the South Atlantic and Indian Ocean, before she returned to Portsmouth to pay off. In January 1961 conversion begun for her to become a commando carrier. She re-commissioned in 1962, training with two helicopter squadrons as well as 40 Commando, Royal Marines before she joined the Far East Fleet. She was a vital asset in supporting operations ashore in Borneo during the Indonesian Confrontation. In 1967 she was part of the RN task force that covered the withdrawal from Aden, and in 1971 was part of another withdrawal of British forces, this time in Singapore and the disbandment of the Far East Fleet.

In 1973 she was sold for conversion to a heavy lift vessel for North Sea oil exploration, but the plan collapsed, and she was broken up for scrap at Faslane.

HMS Albion (2001-present day)

The ninth and current Albion is one of the newest additions to the
Royal Navy and is the nameship of a class of two, state of the art Landing Platform Dock Ships (LPD's) that will be a welcome addition to an already powerful amphibious assault capability. Her sister-ship, HMS Bulwark is expected to be commissioned sometime in 2004. She was launched in March 2001 and was commissioned on the 19th June 2003 by her sponsor HRH The Princess Royal. In 2003 she received the Freedom of the City of Chester and also had a prominent role in the Queen's Colour Parade for the Royal Navy in Plymouth Sound only the third time a Fleet Colour has been given in the Royal Navy's history.

Albion Class Statistics

Two-spot 64 metre flight deck able to take medium support helicopters and stow a third. The deck is also capable of carrying a Chinook. The Albion Class design does not have a hangar but has the necessary equipment that is required to support aircraft operations.

Battle Honours