H M S Cavalier
14th June 2014
Where did the time go ? It didn’t seem that many months ago that I was thinking about organising a holiday to Vilnius with my parents and suddenly here I am in England to collect them.
Jason came over with me and to give us something to do I suggested that we went down to the Historic Dockyard at Chatham. We had been talking about the submarine visit I had done last year and he said that he would be interested in going aboard.
We only had a few hours to spare in the afternoon but that was sufficient for us to be able to visit HMS Cavalier before joining the group on board the Ocelot.
HMS Cavalier was the Royal Navy’s last operational Second World War destroyer and is now preserved at Chatham as a memorial to the 142 British destroyers and over 11,000 men lost at sea during the war.
Built in 1944 at Samuel White’s Isle of Wight yard, she was one of the first ships to be built with the forward and aft portions of her hull welded, with only the midsection riveted to ensure strength. This new process gave the ship additional speed.
HMS Cavalier served during the war in the Arctic and the Western Approaches before joining the British Pacific Fleet as the war came to a close. When you finally get up onto the bridge there is a notice that points out that the canvas cover that you are standing under was put there for the convenience of visitors. During the runs up into the Arctic all of this was just open to the elements.
Refitted and modernized in 1957 she continued to play an active role as part of the Royal Navy’s Far East and Home fleets.
One of those modernisations was the replacement of the torpedo tubes by Squid Launchers — when I tried looking up one of those on the Net I was informed that this was a remarkable weapon used in Despicable Me !
After decommissioning at Chatham Dockyard in 1972, HMS Cavalier was laid up in Portsmouth and eventually a trust was set up to save the ship. A special warrant was issued that allows her to retain the prefix HMS and fly the White Ensign, a privilege normally only enjoyed by commissioned ships of the Royal Navy (HMS Belfast in London also has the same privilege).
After a few unsuccessful attempts to commercialise the ship at a variety of locations she was finally returned to Chatham as an historic ship on 23 May 1998.
HMS Cavalier now resides in No. 2 dry-dock where HMS Victory was built.
It turned a bit wet whilst we were wandering about the destroyer and sod’s law said that the only time that the sun really came out was whilst we were down in the submarine. No matter there was sunshine to come later and we had the chance to bake in the garden watching Marlow the beagle do daft things — which at one point included chewing my slippers to pieces.
Next stop — back to Lithuania