HMS Hermes (95)

Hermes on the China Station, in 1931. The massive superstructure was her most distinguishing feature. Photo in the collection of the U.S. Navy National Museum of Naval Aviation.

Ship Class
Ship Type
Laid Down

HMS Hermes (95) was the world's first ship designed from the beginning as an aircraft carrier, though she was not the first such ship completed. Laid down 15 January, 1918, her builders, Armstrong-Whitworth, closed the shipyard, ensuring that the Japanese Hosho would become the worlds first keel-up carrier to be commissioned. Towed to Devonport for completion, Hermes was finally commissioned in 1924, and saw most of her service in the Mediterranean and Far East. In September, 1927, she teamed up with HMS Argus to attack a fleet of Chinese pirates junks and sampans in Bias Bay, in southeastern China. She was placed in reserve in 1937, as assigned to training duties in 1938, but events in Europe brought her back into service the next year. Hermes operated out of Dakar until France capitulated, patrolling the Atlantic for German shipping. After ramming an armed merchant cruiser, Hermes underwent refit from November, 1941, until February, 1942, and transferred to Ceylon. In April, Hermes departed to avoid being caught by Nagumo's carriers when they conducted their raid there, but this was done without any of her aircraft aboard. A scout from the battleship Haruna found Hermes on the 9th, and she was attacked by eighty-five dive bombers. Hermes went down with 307 of her crew.