My father, Louis Rydill, and the aircraft carrier that never was - article on the BBC

My Dad was a ship designer who worked on many projects. At the time he worked for the Admiralty, the civil service had an in-house design team, many of whom belong to the Royal Corps of Naval Constructors.

Nowadays, I believe the government retains a much smaller in-house team of designers and constructors.

The BBC's Nick Childs has written an article about CV0-1, the aircraft carrier design that Dad worked on in the 1960s until it was cancelled by the then (Labour) government. Nick Childs discusses the internal politics behind the decision, including a suggestion that it was due to in-fighting between the Navy and the Royal Air Force.

You can read the article, The aircraft carrier that never was, on the BBC web-site here.

The relevant piece about Dad is as follows:
I interviewed the last chief designer of CVA-01, Louis Rydill, just before he died, and he confirmed that he had said that the day the project was cancelled was the happiest of his life. However, that was not because he did not believe in the carrier case. It was because he felt that he had been forced to make so many compromises, and introduce so many risky design elements, because of size and budget restrictions, that the whole project had become a nightmare.
I'm so glad that this represents the subtlety of what Dad said about the cancellation of the project. I believe that the team had a tie designed to 'celebrate' the cancellation; there was an image of an aircraft carrier with an axe through it.

Of course the argument about defence spending in this country is a much broader and more significant one. But it was interesting to see a piece about the historical situation in relation to the current aircraft carrier project.


  1. I knew Louis briefly, having been introduced at the time of Jessica's marriage. He seemed to me to be a gentle soul and very easy to talk to. I can imagine his being upset at cuts and compromises very well. A really interesting post.

    1. I'm glad you enjoyed the post, David. I was very interested to read the article by Nick Childs. It was nice to see Dad's part in the history acknowledged.


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