USS Charger (CVE-30)
|Builder:||Sun Shipbuilding & Drydock Co., Chester, Pennsylvania|
|Laid down:||19 January 1940|
|Launched:||1 March 1941|
|Acquired:||4 October 1941|
|Commissioned:||3 March 1942|
|Decommissioned:||15 March 1946|
|Reclassified:||AVG-30, 24 January 1942
ACV-30, 20 August 1942
CVE-30, 15 July 1943
|Fate:||Sold into merchant service, 30 January 1947
Sold for scrap, 1969
|Class & type:||Charger-class escort carrier|
|Displacement:||8,000 long tons (8,128 t)|
|Length:||492 ft (150 m)|
|Beam:||69 ft 6 in (21.18 m)
111 ft 2 in (33.88 m) extreme width
|Draft:||26 ft 3 in (8.00 m)|
|Speed:||17 knots (31 km/h; 20 mph)|
|Complement:||856 officers and enlisted|
|Armament:||• 1 × 5 in (130 mm) gun
• 2 × 3"/50 caliber guns
• 10 × 20 mm guns
Planned as the third of a class of four C-P-3 cargo/passenger liners for the Moore-McCormack company, the ship was launched on 1 March 1941 by Sun Shipbuilding and Drydock Co., Chester, Pennsylvania; as Rio de la Plata, sponsored by Mrs. Felipe A. Espil (Courtney Letts de Espil). On 20 May 1941, the United States Maritime Commission requisitioned all four unfinished combiliners, for conversion to military use.
The vessel was prepared for naval duties by the Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Co., Newport News, Virginia. Intended for transfer to the Royal Navy under Lend-Lease, the former Rio de la Plata was commissioned on 2 October 1941 as HMS Charger (D27), Captain George Abel-Smith RN in command. However, the transfer was rescinded and the ship returned to United States control on 4 October 1941. The vessel was reclassified AVG-30 on 24 January 1942 and commissioned as USS Charger on 3 March 1942, Captain T. L. Sprague USN in command; and reported to the Atlantic Fleet.
Listed by the United States Navy as the sole ship of the "Charger Type of 1942 (Class)", it actually had several sister ships in HMS Avenger, HMS Biter, and HMS Dasher, all with similar construction histories and transferred to the Royal Navy under Lend-Lease.
Charger's area of operations throughout the war was Chesapeake Bay, and her duty the basic task of training pilots and ships' crews in carrier operations. Men trained on her decks played an important role in the successful contest for the Atlantic with hostile submarines carried out by the escort carrier groups. Reclassified ACV-30 on 20 August 1942, and CVE-30 on 15 July 1943, Charger left Chesapeake Bay for two ferry voyages, one to Bermuda in October 1942, and one to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in September 1945.
USS Charger was decommissioned at New York on 15 March 1946, and sold into merchant service on 30 January 1947 to the Vlasov group, as MV Fairsea. Successive accommodation upgrades secured the vessel's long-term employment, mainly as a migrant carrier from Europe to Australia. The ship was disabled by an engine-room fire between Tahiti and Panama on 29 January 1969, and primarily due to a lack of spare parts, was sold for scrap in Italy in 1969. Fairsea's last surviving former sister HMS Biter, (later the French Navy's Dixmude), had been returned to the United States and sunk as a target in 1966.
- Photo gallery of USS Charger at NavSource Naval History