The History of the PUNCHER

Begun as MV Willapa, she was commissioned HMS Puncher at Tacoma, Wash., on February 5, 1944, and arrived at Vancouver on March 15 for modification to RN standards. She left Esquimalt in June for Norfolk, Va., en route ferrying motor launches from New Orleans to New York. In July she left Norfolk for Casablanca with a cargo of 40 USAAF aircraft, returning to Norfolk to load the Corsairs of 845 (RN) Squadron and a deckload of U.S. aircraft for the U.K. On February 1, 1945, she joined the Home Fleet, and following VE-Day was used for several months for deck landing training. In September she was partially converted to serve as a troop carrier and employed the rest of the year repatriating Canadian troops from Britain. In 1946 she left Halifax for Norfolk and was paid off there January 16 for return to the USN. Converted for merchant service, she became the British Muncaster Castle in 1949, later to be renamed Bardic in 1954 and Bennevis in 1959. She was broken up in Taiwan in 1973.

PUNCHER Statistical Data

  • Pendant: D79
  • Type: Escort Aircraft Carrier
  • Class:
  • Displacement: 14170 tonnes
  • Length: 492 ft
  • Width: 69.5 ft
  • Draught: 24.8 ft
  • Speed: 18 kts
  • Compliment: 1000 Officers and Crew
  • Arms: 2-5", 16-40mm (8 x II), 20-20mm.
  • Builder: Seattle-Tacoma Shipbuilding Corp., Tacoma. Wash.
  • Keel Laid: 21-May-43
  • Date Launched: 08-Nov-43
  • Date Commissioned: 05-Feb-44
  • Paid off: 16-Jan-46


Canadian manned but commissioned as RN ship.

Keywords: HMCS PUNCHER, Royal Canadian Navy Ship, Escort Aircraft Carrier, Class