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HMS Bulwark 

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HMS Bulwark RO8 Commando Carrier. Completed in November 1948 Harland and Wolff Belfast. She served in the Royal Navy from 1948 until 1981. Originally built as a light fleet carrier, HMS Bulwark had an amazing record in action and in peace time exercises, a brief history of which is shown below.

HMS Bulwark, March 1968.

A large image size 10" x 7" approx, is available.  Reproduced from the original negative / photo under license from MPL, the copyright holder.  A signed numbered certificate is supplied. Price 25.   Order photograph here   Order Code  XMP836

Original republished MPL Photograph (Postcard Size).  Price 5 Click here to order.  Order Code  MP836

HMS Bulwark, April 1969.

A large image size 10" x 7" approx, is available.  Reproduced from the original negative / photo under license from MPL, the copyright holder.  A signed numbered certificate is supplied. Price 25.   Order photograph here   Order Code  XMP837

Original republished MPL Photograph (Postcard Size).  Price 5 Click here to order.  Order Code  MP837


HMS Bulwark.

Original Gale & Polden Ltd Postcard.  Price 12.  Click here to order.    Order Code PHA068


HMS Bulwark

Original  Postcard. Publisher Details Unknown. Price 12.  Click here to order.    Order Code PHA074

HMS Bulwark at Mayport, Florida, 1972.

Contributed by Gerald Goodwin Ex Electrical Mechanic R.N.

HMS Bulwark at Malta, March 1973.

Contributed by Gerald Goodwin Ex Electrical Mechanic R.N.

HMS Bulwark, Caribbean, 1972.

Contributed by Gerald Goodwin Ex Electrical Mechanic R.N.

Harrier trials on HMS Bulwark, North Atlantic, 1972.

Contributed by Gerald Goodwin Ex Electrical Mechanic R.N.

HMS Bulwark in Aden

The following history is courtesy of Robert Ford who served on board the Bulwark from 29th October 1967 until 17th September 1969.

We spent weeks at sea off Aden.  Loaded down with Royal Marine Commando`s,  Royal Artillery and Wessex helicopter squadron (s).  But there is no mention of this in her history. I do recall,  as the boy I was then,  asking my superior officer "Will we get a medal for this ?"  his reply "No, we are not supposed to be here."   How very strange.

At the time I was a very junior member of the operations room (radar) team and I did compile a detailed chart of the ships movements during this period.   Dates,  times,  rendezvous with other RN vessels etc.   However when my superior officer became aware of this it was confiscated,  the reason ?   "We are not supposed to be here."

I recall that this gap in her history was from October 1967 to April 1968,  7 months ?   Not a long time you may think,  but we were based in Singapore and Aden was a long way to travel by ship for nothing,  especially when we were loaded to the gunwhales with fighting troops!


29th October 1954, Commissioned at Belfast,   
7th of February 1955, First arrested landing by an Avenger of 703 squadron NAS from RNAS Ford.   
1st of June 1955, visited Oslo with 800 squadron, 811 squadron flying Sea Hawks, and Avenger from 751 squadron.   
6th of August 1956 joined the Mediterranean fleet with 804, 897, and 810 squadrons flying Sea Hawks. 
1st November 1956, took part in Operation Musketeer (The Suez Landings,) flying nearly 600 sorties. against Egyptian targets.   
18th December 1956, returned to Portsmouth for refit.  
May 1957 returned to the Home Fleet, carrying Gannet AS aircraft of 820 squadron, Sea Venoms, of 891 squadron, Skyraider from 849D squadron, and sea Hawks of 801, 898 squadron.  
September 1957 while on Nato exercise, Bulwark was the first carrier to use magnetic loop communication systems. 
17th January 1958 Bulwark sailed with Home Fleet for the Spring Cruise to the West Indies. Squadrons embarked: 801 Sea Hawks, 891 Sea Venoms, 845 Whirlwind HAS Mk7 and 849D Skyraiders.*
April 1958 left Gibraltar after dry docking for the Suez Canal and Far East. *
July  1958,  During the Middle East Crisis, ferried Infantry and Vehicles from Kenya to Aden.
August 1958 ferried Infantry from Aden to Aqaba at the north east end of the Red Sea. 
13th September 1958, Bulwark aircraft assisted to tankers after a collision in the Persian Gulf, HMS Bulwark took one of the tankers The Melika in Tow to Muscat and won the Boyd trophy in her part of this salvage. (At the time this operation resulted in the largest ever award of salvage money to the ships involved.*)
4th November 1958 Bulwark arrived at Portsmouth to pay off an convert to commando carrier.
January 1959 conversion to Commando Carrier starts in earnest. 23rd January 1960  recommissioned at Portsmouth , with 42 Royal marine Commando and 848 Squadron (Whirlwind helicopters)   
1st July 1961, Operation Vantage, Landed 42 Commando during the Kuwait crisis  (Iraqi threat to invade Kuwait) 
1st October 1961, first Carrier to be commissioned away from the UK since World war two, at Singapore. 
May 1962 Exercise common Assault 3 training The Hong Kong Garrison in landing techniques. (SEE THE PAINTING BY IVAN BERRYMAN BELOW)  
APRIL 1964 to part in the Borneo Operations against the Indonesians. 845 squadron awarded the Boyd trophy for 1964.  
March 1965, took part in exercise FOTEX 65, along with HMAS Melbourne, HMS Victorious and HMS Eagle. 
18th June 1966 carried out sea trial with the Kestrel which was the forerunner of the Sea Harrier  
June 1966, embarked Wessex 5 helicopters of 845 Squadron and 42 Royal marine Commando 
June 1967 landed 3 commando Brigade at Kuantan in eastern Malaysia  
August 1968 Major refit at Portsmouth.  
17th April 1969, Sailed to Plymouth to embark 41 Royal Marine Commando group then sailed to Mediterranean with 845 squadron.  April -  took part in Exercise Grecian Vase, in Cyprus and Exercise Olympic Express off Salonika.  
June 1970 took part in Exercise Bersatu Padu which involved ships from The UK, Australia , New Zealand, Malaysia, and Singapore, over 200 aircraft 50 Ships and 20,000 men. HMS Bulwark landed 40 Royal Marine Commando. 
13th January 1972, Sailed for Malta to act as HQ ship for the Operation Exit, planned withdrawal of British Forces form Malta, HMS Bulwark was at Valetta Harbour for 11 weeks 845 squadron carried out over 1,000 landings. 
March 1972 took part in exercise Rum Punch of Puerto Rico.  
17th July 1972 took part in Exercise West Hoe.
February 1973 visited Charleston, South Carolina, HMS Bulwark was the largest ship to sail under Cooper bridge. took part in Exercise Rum Punch 73.  
25th April 1973, went to Mediterranean to embark 41 commando from Malta for exercises of Cyprus, then sailed for North Atlantic to take part in Anglo-US exercise in the arctic Circle. 
4th September 1973 took part in exercise Deep Furrow 73, major NATO exercise with over 50,000 men and 54 ships from USA, UK, Greece, Turkey and Italy.  
16th January 1974 damaged by storms north east of the Azores. 
8th March 1974 Devonport for refit, completed on 7th February 1975 refit . 
June 1975  exercise Dawn patrol.   
1st September took part in Exercise deep Express 75. 
January 1976, Sailed for Caribbean with 848 Squadron and 40 Royal marines, plus Band of the Royal green jackets for exercises of Puerto Rico. 
May 1976 placed in reserve fleet  
20th March 1978 refitted at Portsmouth. 
23rd February 1979 recommissioned in Portsmouth 
28th June 1979 took part in exercise Whiskey Venture with 820 squadron flying Sea Kings and 45 Royal Marine Commando
22nd February took part in exercise Safe Pass of US East Coast. 
15th march 1980 A1 Boiler room destroyed by fire and was not repaired. 
2nd April 1980 returned to Portsmouth. 
April 1980 embarked 45 commando for Exercise Dawn patrol in the Mediterranean off Sardinia.  
August 1980 took part in exercise Teamwork 80 off Norway.  
9th November 1980 major fire damaged forward hanger and many mess decks.  
27th March 1981 entered Portsmouth for last time.  
April 1981 made ready for disposal. 
10th April taken in tow from Portsmouth to breakers yard. 
17th April arrived at Cairn Ryan for scrapping.

Laid down in 1945, and built by Harland and Wolf, Belfast. Launched on the 22nd June 1948, but completed six years later on the 4th November 1954.

Speed, 28 knots,  Endurance, 6,000 miles at 20 knots.

Full compliment was 1800 which included Royal Marines.

As a Aircraft Carrier it had 42 aircraft , as a Commando Carrier it carried 30 Helicopters.

Items marked * were contributed by Chris Howat.


Our message board system has now been upgraded to a discussion forum at  Any messages on this page are now archive messages kept here to service those who left the messages originally.   Click Here to go to the new Forum

Naval Historians, Crew & Family Noticeboard


PETER MILLS..  Does anyone remember my father Peter Mills (Fleet Air Arm)onboard HMS Bulwark during the Borneo conflict. I Would like to put him in touch with his old pals.  Contact Here

STEVE DANAHAR..  848 Squadron (May 73 - Dec 74).  Would love to hear from any air wing shipmates or ships company who served during this period and didn't spill their tea during the big storm.  Contact Here 

DAVE RIVE PTI..  I am trying to locate Dave Rive PTI who was on the Bulwark with me and the rest of the 2A1B mess.  Contact Here 

DAVID DYER..  Served on the rusty B for a short time between 1980 - 1981, up until her decommission, would like to hear from Scouse Jefferson, (Alan (Jono) Johnson, or any other stokers who might know me..  Contact Here 

JAMES (JIM) ARTHUR FISHER..  My father James (Jim) Arthur Fisher has just died.  He served on the HMS Bulwark 1954 - 1957 in the Fleet Air Arm.  I am looking for a photograph of the HMS Bulwark for my grandson to keep.  Can anyone help me.  Contact here 

DENIS WHELAN (SAMMY)..  I served on the Bulwark from 1958 - 1959. I was on board. This was while we towed the Melika to Muscat and transported troops from Monbassa to Akaba in the Persian Gulf. If anyone knows me or has nay photographs of this time I would like to hear from them at 

EDWARD 'TED' HOUCHEN.. My grandfather served on Hms Bulwark i dont really know when but would love to find out if anyone had any stories about him as he died when i was still quite young it must of been in the 50's i would imagine his name was Edward (Ted) Houchen? any stories would be great to hear. He was a member of the royal marines and thats the only ship i know he was on HMS BULWARK..e-mail me if you have any stories on  

Hi,  I was aboard when the Bulwark was commissioned in 1954 in Belfast N.I. Exact dates elude me!  Petty Officer,  A. Parkes is the name, and as I had only just been up rated  from a Killick, I started off as Captain of the Side which was quite a lonley job, 'cos nobody looks over the ships  side unless they are sick.  As an R.P.2 my sea duty was in the Aircraft Direction Room ( ADR ) which was quite exciting, especially when working with the new jets which were still pretty new, and learning the new landing skills, that would be Sea Hawks and Venoms etc.    Of course the comic "Eagle"  (Dan Dare) had a full centre spread of all these  "secrets" at this time.  We also had " over the horizon " R.A.D.A.R. mounted in and Avenger that could see the Channel Islands from Portsmouth, easy stuff  today, but amazing in those days.  I am now retired and living in Weymouth, and hope to sling my hook without leaving port, sad a'int it!!  This is a very brief account, but  to me a high time in my Naval career.Other exciting moments will remain pretty private! A.E.Parkes ( larry )  

JACK NEWMAN... I was in the 65/67 commission on Bulwark as an AA1 in AED. Would like to hear from Thommo, Bungy Williams, David Palin or CAA Sullivan  Jack Newman  at (probably )

ALBERT VICTOR SADLER....  My Grandfather Albert Victor Sadler served on HMS Bulwark as an Able Seaman from 25th April 1911 to 1 September 1911. If any one has any information about the ship during this period I would be pleased to get in touch.   Terry Wright 

BAZ CRAKER: I was a OEM, served onboard from Oct 1974 to Jan 1977, any other greenies out there contact me at 

JACK HOLT..  My Dad, Jack Holt, was a Chief Petty Officer on HMS Bulwark, I think during the 1950's and possibly the early 60's; he was an aircraft engineer with the Fleet Air Arm, and he may also have served on HMS Hermes and HMS Ark Royal. He died in 1984 after a long illness, when I was still a teenager, and I missed out on getting to know him properly. I would be delighted to hear any stories or comments about him from anyone he served with - email 

ALAN JONES.. I was a seamen onboard HMS  Bulwark during 1963 to 1965 with our little visit out to the far east. I am trying to find someone who has a commissioning book which everybody got on our return to the UK. I lent mine out and never got it back. I want to find someone who could get theirs copied in some way. if you can help contact me at 

BRIAN TURNBULL.. I am looking for anyone on board HMS Bulwark who knew Brian Turnbull. Please contact me at 

ROBERT (BOB) RITT.. Bob served on HMS Bulwark from 1951-58 and would love to hear from anyone who remembers him, especially Don Daniells or Pope. Contact him at 

RAY YOUNG..   I served on HMS Bulwark from 1961 to 1963. I was a A/L.R.E.M my email address is 

GERALD TOES. trying to trace Gerald Toes who served on HMS Bulwark. Contact Mason Failte at 

JOHN CHEETHAM... I served on HMS Bulwark from 1975 to her de-commissioning. I would love to hear from any ex "Bulwarkians"  email.

R. G  MERCER..  1958-59 Cruise.  Hi there I was a chef on that cruise and I would love to hear from anyone in the forward galley, Scouse Dunn, Jumo Prior, Wilf Preston or anyone. A great Cruise, great skipper Percy Gick. I would love to get hold of a copy of Bulwark brochure if you know of one available. hoping to hear some news soon cheers. 

LESTER MAY.. Served as a midshipman (S), Sub-Lieutenant (S) and Lieutenant (S) as Captains Assistant Secretary 1973 - 1975. Were you on board during those happy years.      Contact me on 

GRAHAM GLEDDEN..  I served on the Bulwark as a Marine Engineer from 24th April 1980 through to 12th May 1981 when she was finally de-commissioned 

IAN MUNT   I served on the Mighty B from Jan 1980 to April 81. I was involved with both fires and lost my beloved A1 boiler. I only handed her over at the end of the mid Watch and she caught fire three hours later. Love to hear from anyone who knew me.  at

MAURICE NEWMAN (ALFIE).. I served on the Bulwark from 1963 - 1965. If anyone knows me and would like to contact me at. 

RICHARD OSBOURNE.. I was an RO2 on Bulwark from 1963 - 1965 during the Borneo Confrontation. I spent alot of time in the Assault Ops room during the Landings. If anyone remembers me please email me. at 

PETER WILLIAMS. (Bungy or Taff )  I served as a Electrical mechanic on HMS Bulwark from 1963 to 1965. I would be glad to hear from any old shipmates that know me. contact me at 

DAVID (TAFF) JENKINS... I served on HMS Bulwark from 1974-78 and would like to hear from any of the stokers on board at this time. Contact me at 

KEN GEORDIE YOUNG.  I was on board HMS Bulwark 1955 - 1956. I was a member of 4H21 Mess. I would be pleased to hear from any old shipmates including Dutch Holland, Pedlar Palner, Al and Wal and anyone else who knew me. Also is there any photos when the Dutch Sq. leader ditched during NATO Exercises.  Contact me at