HMS HERMES ASSOCIATION HISTORY
HMS HERMES 9
HMS HERMES 10 R12
The first reunion was held at UJC London with 53 people attending.
The majority of the shipmates present were to meet for the first time since the 9th April 1942, forty five years after Hermes 9 was sunk by Japanese dive bombers off the coast of Trincomalee Ceylon.
The second reunion was planned and held in October 1988 in Liverpool this time 64 people were to attend and again proved very successful.
The third reunion was again held in Liverpool in April 1989 at which Hermes 10 shipmates were invited to attend – this proved beyond doubt the real beginning of the need for a yearly reunion.
Going from strength to strength an association committee was formed and elected from the floor by those members present.
Many years later we are utmost proud and honoured to still have Hermes 9 survivors among our members and Hermes 10 shipmates of all commissions up to and including the Falklands war.
The Hermes Association meets each year in April on the nearest weekend to the date of the anniversary of when Hermes 9 was sunk in respect of those that were lost in 1942.
Our dedicated committee members ensure that a very memorable weekend is had by all.
HMS Hermes 9 – was the first purpose built aircraft carrier in the world. The design was based on that of a cruiser and the ship was intended for a similar scouting role. She was built by Armstrong Whitworth, laid down 15 January 1918 and launched 11 September 1919. She was then towed to Devonport for completion. She was subsequently commissioned in July 1923. After a distinguished wartime career she was lost 9 April 1942. HMS Hermes had a small aircraft complement, light protection and anti-aircraft armament. She had a limited high-speed endurance and stability problems caused by the large starboard island, with fuel having to be carefully distributed to balance the ship.
HMS Hermes was deemed unsuitable for operations in European waters, and was consequently employed in trade protection in the South Atlantic and Indian Oceans until March 1942.
Her only fleet operation was on 8 July 1940, when her Swordfish aircraft attacked the Vichy French battleship Richelieu at Dakar and scored one torpedo hit.
HMS Hermes was attacked by Japanese aircraft on 9 April 1942 off Trincomalee, Ceylon and was lost with many of the ship’s company.
HMS Hermes 10 – was built by Vickers-Armstrong, Barrow in Furness, and laid down 21 June 1944 as one of the “Centaur” class light fleet carriers. She was not launched until 16 February 1953, being laid up a further four years awaiting completion. She was finally completed on 18 November 1959.
In 1971, HMS Hermes was re-commissioned as a commando carrier, and then in the late 1970′s as an interim V/STOL carrier. After serving as the flagship of the Royal Navy’s task force during the Falklands war of 1982, she was ‘paid off’ on 12 April 1984.
HMS Hermes was sold to India on 19 April 1986 after a major re-fit at Devonport before transfer. The carrier, was renamed INS Viraat (R22), and commissioned into the Indian Navy on 12 May 1987. She was formally commissioned 15 February 1989.
The air group included 12 to 18 Sea Harriers V/STOL fighters and 7 / 8 Sea King or Kamov ‘Hormone’ ASW helicopters. In emergencies, the Viraat could operate up to 30 Harriers.
An extensive modernisation programme for the ship began in 1999 costing Rs3 billion (US$71.4million). She underwent sea trials in December 2000 and completed the refit during 2001.INS Viraat was decommissioned in March 2017, and holds the record of longest serving aircraft carrier in the world.