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HMS Ark Royal - 1587

HMS Ark Royal was an English galleon, originally ordered for Sir Walter Raleigh and later purchased by the crown for service in the Royal Navy. She was used as the English flagship in a number of engagements, including the battles that resulted in the defeat of the Spanish Armada, and had a long career spanning over 50 years. Her fame would subsequently lead to a number of warships of the Royal Navy being named Ark Royal in her honor, including a number of flagships of the fleet.
Her first action came during the Spanish Armada, when Ark Royal, as one of the largest vessels in the English fleet, was the flagship of Charles Howard, 1st Earl of Nottingham, the Lord High Admiral of England. After the initial defeat of the Armada, Ark Royal led the chase of the fleeing ships into the North Sea and beyond the Firth of Forth. She was also used as Howard's flagship during the 1596 raid on Cádiz, which resulted in the destruction of much of the Spanish fleet at harbor. Ark Royal was again the flagship during 1599 when a Spanish invasion again threatened.

HMS Ark Royal - 1914

HMS Ark Royal was a Royal Navy ship originally laid down as a merchant vessel but completed in the builder's shipyard as an aircraft carrier, entering service a few months after the outbreak of the First World War.
The Royal Navy had been using a converted cruiser, HMS Hermes, as a seaplane carrier, to conduct trials in 1913. However, another ship was needed, and in 1913 a tramp steamer was purchased whilst under construction at the Blyth Shipbuilding Company in Blyth, Northumberland. This 7,000-ton vessel was converted on the slipway whilst still under construction, to become the first Royal Navy ship to be originally completed as an aircraft carrying vessel. Seaplane tenders which entered service before Ark Royal, such as HMS Engadine and HMS Hermes had been used for some other purpose before being converted. On the outbreak of the First World War a number of cross channel ferries were requisitioned and converted as well. The ship spent the war in the Eastern Mediterranean and took part in the Dardanelles campaign from February to May 1915. In January 1918 two of her Sopwith ABC planes attempted to bomb SMS Goeben.

HMS Ark Royal (91)

HMS Ark Royal (91), was the third ship of the Royal Navy to carry the name and the second to be an aircraft carrier. She was designed in 1934 to meet the limits of the Washington Naval Treaty, and was built by Cammell Laird and Company, Ltd. at Birkenhead, England. Construction was completed in November 1938. Her hull was the maximum length permitted at that time for drydocking. This was also the first time where the flight deck was an integral part of the ship as opposed to an add-on or superstructure deck as on earlier vessels. She had two levels of hangar decks.
During March 1941, Ark Royal pursued the German battlecruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau during the last phase of their Atlantic sortie. In late May, whilst serving in the Mediterranean as part of Force H along with HMS Renown and the cruiser HMS Sheffield, she was called upon to search for the Bismarck in the Atlantic. On 26 May, her scout planes found the battleship. Later that day, her torpedo planes made attacks on Bismarck. During the first attack, her planes mistakenly attacked Sheffield, as the pilots had not been informed that she had been sent ahead to shadow the Bismarck. Fortunately, the torpedoes had been fitted with the then new magnetic exploders (which, after this event, were subsequently deemed to be unreliable and withdrawn from use by the RN) and exploded upon hitting the water, and Sheffield managed to evade the rest; no major damage was incurred, and one of the pilots signaled 'Sorry for the kipper' to Sheffield. Torpedoes with the older contact exploders were then fitted to her Swordfish planes and another attack was made just before sunset. In the second attack, her torpedo planes hit Bismarck, damaging rudder machinery, making the enemy battleship virtually unmanoeuvrable, and allowing other British warships to close and sink her on the morning of 27 May. No planes were lost in either of these attacks.
While returning to Gibraltar on 13 November 1941, Ark Royal was hit by one torpedo from the German submarine U-81. Progressive flooding choked the boiler uptakes; since she had no diesel backups, all power was lost, including power to the pumps. HMS Legion was ordered to take aboard 1487 officers and crew to transport to Gibraltar. After several hours, already listing heavily while under tow towards Gibraltar, the carrier capsized to starboard and sank on 14 November 1941. Only one crewman was lost during the action, killed by the torpedo explosion.

HMS Ark Royal (R09)

The Ark Royal was and Audacious-class carrier, the sister ship to HMS Eagle. She was initially named HMS Audacious, hence the name of the class. Both ships would be extensively upgraded throughout their lifetime. It was not until 7 years after she was laid down that she was launched, and 5 more years until completion. In this time, she underwent redesign, and when completed, she was markedly different from her sister ship. When commissioned, she had a 5.5° partially-angled flight deck, 2 steam catapults capable of launching aircraft weighing up to 30,000 pounds (14,000 kg), a deck-edge lift on the port side, modified armament, and the new mirror landing system. These innovations allowed aircraft to land and take off from the carrier at the same time.
The Ark Royal participated in many exercises as part of the British fleet and NATO squadrons, but saw no combat duty. During the Suez Crisis in 1956, about a year after commissioning, she was doing her post-refit trials, so she was not involved with this operation. In 1963, she carried out trials for a new type of Vertical/Short Take Off and Landing (V/STOL) aircraft, the Hawker P.1127, which developed into the Hawker-Siddeley Harrier.
She was involved in a notorious incident in 1970 when she collided with the Soviet destroyer Kotlin while it was shadowing Ark Royal (a common practice during the Cold War) which was in the Mediterranean to participate in a NATO exercise. Ark Royal was damaged only slightly while the Soviet destroyer sustained significant damage.
The scrapping of the Ark Royal in 1980, two years after the Eagle had been scrapped, marked the end of standard, fixed-wing naval operation aboard Royal Navy carriers until the launching of British supercarriers in the early 21st century. She had borne so many new inventions, and yet, was never replaced by a new carrier with them. There was some discussion about preserving her as a museum ship, and some private funds were raised; however, the Ministry of Defense would not sanction these efforts.

HMS Ark Royal (R07)

HMS Ark Royal (R07), the last Invincible-class light aircraft carrier to be completed, was the fifth ship of the Royal Navy named in honor of the flagship of the English fleet that defeated the Spanish Armada. Ark Royal was slightly larger than her sister ships and during construction she was fitted with a steeper ski-jump ramp, (twelve degrees, as opposed to seven degrees of the Invincible) to improve STOVL take-off performance for the Harrier aircraft. While in active service, the Ark Royal was most always the flagship of the Royal Navy.
Ark Royal, commanded by Captain Alan Massey, took part in the 2003 invasion of Iraq where her complement consisted of helicopters rather than her usual mix of helicopters and Harrier aircraft. During operations in the war two Westland Sea King helicopters, from 849 Naval Air Squadron, collided in mid-air with the loss of one American and six British lives.
Ark Royal remained in service until 2016, at which time she was replaced with the HMS Prince of Wales, the second of the Royal Navy's Queen Elizibeth-class carriers. These new vessel displaced three times that of the Invincible-class and offered a steep change in operational capability.

USS Ark Royal (NCC-1791)

USS Ark Royal (NCC-1791) was the first Starfleet ship to carry the name of the illustrious British vessel. A Constitution-class cruiser of the mk III subclass, she was ordered for construction in the late 23rd century. Ark Royal entered service on stardate 7404.1. She would later undergo the refit that the Enterprise first underwent, completing it in 2280.
She would see service until 2287, when she was destroyed by Gorn vessels. The Ark had responded to a distress call from Starbase 16 on Corinth IV claiming that they were under attack, and were destroyed by overwhelming Gorn forces. It was later discovered that the Gorn were attempting to thwart a Tholian encroachment on their space, and that Starbase 16 and Corinth IV were laid waste by a Tholian prototype weapon, The Ark Royal was simply caught in the middle between to conflicting governments. No members of the crew survived the attack.