Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Final Fate of the HMS Vengeance / Minas Gerais

Laid down on November 16, 1942, at Swan Hunter, this vessel was commissioned as the HMS Vengeance on January 11, 1945. She served with the Royal Navy in the Pacific, and the Japanese surrender of Hong Kong was signed on her deck.

The ship was loaned to Australia from 1953 to late 1955, serving first as a training carrier and then as a fleet carrier in the Korean conflict as the HMAS Vengeance. Returned to the Royal Navy, she was sold to Brazil in late 1956. Named Minas Gerais, she was rebuilt at Rotterdam and served with the Brazilian Navy until October, 2001.

Several groups expressed interest in purchasing the ship and towing her to the UK as a museum, based on her historical significance as the last of the Colossus Class fleet carriers, and being the last surviving British WWII capital ship.

Supporters failed to raise enough money, and the ship was offered for sale. A scrap company from China bought her, but failed to follow through on their bid, so a private British citizen, shipping tycoon Philip Bush, purchased the vessel to buy the preservation groups more time. The ship sat rusting in Rio, costing thousands of dollars a month in mooring fees, while plans fell through to set the ship up as a museum due to lack of financial support. Time ran out, and Mr. Bush cut his losses and sold the vessel to a scrap merchant from Alang, India. A final auction in Rio afforded a final chance for a preservation group to purchase her, but all were well short of the $6.5 million dollar price tag.

The carrier was towed from Rio in February, 2004, and arrived at Alang in April. She was dragged up on the beach at high tide, and was being slowly cut up. By September the job was well advanced, and by February, 2005, no trace of her remained.

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