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Please note - Although we have included photographs and some information in this page to honour those who went before us we do not hold any historical details of crew or deployments of any ships that preceded the nuclear submarine, the crew of which this web site is meant for.


The first ship to bear the name Courageous (at the time, spelt Courageux) was a French ship of 74 guns taken in battle by H.M.S. Bellona off of Vigo on 14th of August 1761, having been built at Brest in 1753. She was placed into service with the Royal Navy as a third rate ship with a displacement of 1721 tons and a complement of 650 men. The ship was lost in a gale whilst anchored off Gibraltar on 10th December 1796. She was driven from her anchors and grounded on rocks below Ape’s Hill. Of the 503 persons that were aboard only 129 survived.

The second ship, also spelt Courageux, was built at Deptford in 1800 and launched on the 26th of March that year. Another 3rd rate ship her statistics were as follows: Length at the keel 150 feet 9 inches, length at the gundeck, 181 feet 1 inch, beam, 47 feet 1 inch, depth of hold, 19 feet 10 inches, displacement, 1772 tons, guns, 74 and a complement of 590 men. She was broken up at Chatham in 1832.


A 32 gun French ship, named Courageuse, was taken in the ,Mediterranean on the 18th of June 1799 and employed as a store ship on the Mediterranean station.​


The battlecruiser HMS Courgeous before conversion to an aircraft carrier

The battle cruiser H.M.S. Courageous, built by Armstrong Whitworth, was laid down in May 1915 and she was launched on the 5th of February 1916. She was 786 feet length overall, 81 feet in the beam and she displaced 22,960 tons when fully loaded. She was armed witrh four 15 inch guns, eighteen 4 inch guns and two 3 inch guns. She also carried two 21 inch torpedo tube arrays with a further 4 twin arrays fitted later. At the hull, the armoured belt was 3 inches thick and around the armoured citadel, up to 13 inches thick. She was powered by 18 Yarrow small tube boilers driving Parsons all geared turbines which fed four propellors. These gave her a speed of 32 knots at 340 revolutions and she produced in total, 90,000 shaft horse power. Her crew was 842.

In June 1924, Courageous was taken in hand by Devonport Dockyard and she was converted to the role of aircraft carrier. The conversion was completed on the 5th of May 1928 having cost £2,025,800. The first ship to be fitted with arrester gear, she was commissioned into service on the 21st of February 1928 and first sailed as a complete carrier on the 6th of June that year. Following the conversion her statistics had altered to the following: Length overall 786 feet, beam at the flight deck, 100 feet. Her draught was 28 feet 4 inches and her displacement was 26,500 tons fully loaded. Her flight deck was 550 feet in length and was 75 feet above the waterline. She was crewed by a complement of 748 naval ratings and officers and 468 RAF personnel. She was armed with sixteen 4.7 inch guns, four 3 pounder guns and 17 smaller anti-aircraft mounts on the forward flight deck. Her flight complement consisted of 48 Swordfish Torpedo Bomber / Reconnaissance aircraft.

We have put many of the historical photographs of our predecessor, the cruiser and later aircraft carrier, into the gallery below. Of the photographs in the album below those depicting RAF personnel and flight deck operations have been very kindly supplied by Mrs V Gascoyne, daughter of FA Gascoyne RAF who served in Courageous in the early 1930s. All of these photographs, and more, are available for viewing in the final album within our Picture Gallery, available through the Galleries Page.

Courageous was lost following a torpedo attack upon her by the German U Boat, U-29, commanded by Otto Schuhardt. She was the first allied warship lost in the Second World War and her loss stopped the Admiralty from sending carriers on anti submarine patrols for the remainder of the conflict. The attack took place south west of Ireland at 1950 hours on Sunday the 17th of September 1939. Of the 1260 officers and men onboard, 519 men were lost. The ship sank and U-29, despite an extensive search, was able to return safely to her home port.

      To view a Youtube video about the conversion  of HMS Courageous                                       To view a Youtube video about the sinking of HMS                                     to an aircraft carrier please click on the image below.                                                        ourageous  , please click on the image below.

If you would like to see the list of those who lost their lives in the sinking of HMS Courageous on this date please CLICK HERE. 


The next Courageous was our submarine and you can see her details and statistics on THE BOAT page of this web site.

A view of HMS Courageous from the starboard quarter
HMS Glorious and HMS Courageous together at sea.
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