Arromanches R95 – The Pride of the French navy, the backbone during the war period

Arromanches (R95) was an aircraft carrier of the French Navy, which served from 1946 to 1974. She was previously HMS Colossus (15) of the Royal Navy. She was the name-ship of the Colossus class of light carriers. She was commissioned in 1944, but did not see any action in World War II. She served with the British Pacific Fleet in 1945–46, as an aircraft transport and repatriation ship.

In 1946, she was loaned to the French Navy, and renamed Arromanches; she was bought by the French in 1951.

Arromanches participated in the First Indochina War in three campaigns from 1948 to 1954, and the Suez Crisis of 1956. In 1968 she was converted to an anti-submarine warfare (ASW) carrier. She was decommissioned in 1974, and broken up in 1978.

The Colossus class was designed to meet the Royal Navy’s wartime need for more carriers as cheaply as possible. They were built to mercantile standards, with no armour, no heavy AA guns, and only 25 kn (46 km/h) speed. Colossus was ordered on 14 March 1942 under Admiralty Job Number J 4576, one of three Colossus-class carriers ordered that day. The ship was laid down at Vickers-Armstrongs’ High Walker shipyard on 1 June 1942 with the Yard number 55 and was launched on 30 September 1943. Colossus was formally commissioned on 1 December 1944, being completed and handed over to the Royal Navy on 16 December 1944

In August 1946 Colossus was loaned to France and renamed Arromanches, after the French commune of the same name, which was the site of the British D-Day landings. In 1948, Arromanches participated in the First Indochina War for three months. She returned to France in 1949. In 1951, France purchased the ship. She was again deployed to Indochina in 1951–52, in 1952-53 and 1953–54.

In 1956, Arromanches was deployed to the eastern Mediterranean Sea during the Suez Crisis. On 3 November, 18 F4U Corsairs from Arromanches and La Fayette bombed Egyptian airfields around Cairo.

In 1957–58 Arromanches was reconstructed with a four-degree angled flight deck, a mirror landing sight and with other modifications for anti-submarine warfare, including operation of Breguet Alizé ASW aircraft. She was also equipped for training operations. In 1959 she returned once again to the Indian Ocean.

In 1968 Arromanches was converted to a helicopter carrier for the French Marines, with up to 24 helicopters on board. This ended her role as a training carrier.

Arromanches was decommissioned on 22 January 1974, and in 1978 broken up at Toulon, a place of importance for both the first Colossus in 1793, and the last in 1978

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