This film is part of Free

M.A.C. Ship

The story of an oil tanker, rebuilt to fight back during WWII.

1944 13 mins


This fascinating wartime tale follows one of nine oil tankers owned by the Anglo Saxon Petroleum Company Ltd. (Shell) redesigned by the company's own marine technical division and rebuilt into Merchant Aircraft Carriers, known as the Rapana class. MAC ships, having no aircraft hangars, carried their fighter aircraft on the flight deck and continued to carry normal cargoes below. They operated under Royal Navy control.

Intended to provide air support against U-boat attacks on Atlantic convoys, the proposed MAC ships were originally met with forceful opposition from the various military and naval authorities. However, after suffering significant losses in the Atlantic, the authorities relented and US shipbuilders were contracted to convert the ships for the UK. Because of the experimental nature of the design the US shipyards ultimately turned down the contract and the ships were converted on home soil. After the war the Rapana class were converted back to merchant vessels and continued to serve the oil industry for many years, the last of the class being broken up in 1963.