HMS Ausonia left the East Indies fleet on the 14th June 1946 and returned to the UK where her crew were paid off. Shortly afterwards she was moved to Greenock, where she became part of the reserve fleet. During the period July 1947 to June 1949 she was based at Chatham, where she served as flagship to the Officer Commanding the reserve fleet there. The next few years were spent either in Chatham or in Scotland.
A major refit on the ship began in 1951 which was not completed until 1954. The work was extensive and it included the fitting of new boilers which had been taken from an old destroyer. She then moved to shipyards in Millwall, where she remained inactive and in preservation until June 1957. Her future looked very uncertain, but a reprieve came with the decision to use her as a replacement for HMS Ranpura, which was at this time, the heavy repair ship in Malta.
HMS Ausonia was towed to Devonport and had a further refit. She re-commissioned on the 16th September 1958 and after undergoing trials she sailed for Malta, arriving alongside the Ranpura in Grand Harbour, in October. There then followed 2 weeks of hard work as all the stores and equipment were transferred from the Ranpura to the Ausonia, the former vessel rising higher out of the water and the latter sank lower as the heavy equipment was moved from one ship to the other. Once this had been completed, the Ranpura’s crew themselves transferred to the Ausonia and the latter’s steaming crew, who had brought her to Malta, took Ranpura back to Devonport.
In June 1958, Captain Kerby asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty what the estimated cost of the refits for HMS Ausonia had been during the financial years 1953 to 1958. Mr Allan informed him that the estimated cost of refits for HMS Ausonia during those finial years was approximately £1.4 million.
HMS Ausonia featured in an article in the December 1959 edition of the Navy News. The article states that just a month after arriving in Malta, Ausonia had completed 500 jobs in the month of November 1958, which had taken 3500 man hours. The article also lists Ausonia’s ports of call in her summer 1959 trip, Naples and Salerno in March, Ajaccio (Corsica) in June and Genoa, in September.
In June 1962, HMS Ausonia became the flagship of the Flag Officer Mediterranean Flotillas. Whilst in Malta she also acted as the accommodation and repair ship for the 5th Submarine Division.
In 1962, Chief Petty Officer James Wilson from HMS Ausonia, was featured in several articles in the Maltese newspapers. As a Royal Navy physical instructor, he had been invited to train the Floriana football team and through his efforts, they went on to win the Maltese championship.
For the first time ever, Malta entered the European cup championship and on the 18th September 1962, Floriana played Ipswich Town in the first round of the European cup championship at the Empire Stadium in Gzira. The final score was 4-1 to Ipswich Town.
The second round match against Ipswich Town was at the Portman Road football ground in Ipswich on the 25th September and the final score this time, was 10-0 to Ipswich Town and as a result, Floriana were knocked out of the championship.
The US Navy Balao Class submarine, USS Piper seen here reversing out of her moorings in the Grand Harbour, Malta sometime in 1963. In the background is HMS Ausonia with HMS Agincourt alongside on the left and the US Navy Trench Class submarine, USS Sirago on the right.
In 1964 during a “Families Day” show off the coast of Malta, HMS Ausonia was attacked with dummy Mk 9 torpedoes on her port side, fired from either HMS Turpin or HMS Thermopylae both T Class submarines, based at Malta. HMS Ausonia was used for target practise because she was one of the few warships left in the Royal Navy that had a strong enough steel hull to withstand the blows. After the display, HMS Ausonia dropped the families off back in Malta and immediately set sail for Greece but unfortunately had a luboil failure to one of the engine bearings and the ship was towed back into Grand Harbour for repairs.
HMS Ausonia in the early 1960’s on one of her last summer sea trials while based at Malta.
On completion of the repairs to the engine bearing, HMS Ausonia left Malta for the last time arriving in Portsmouth on the 7th August 1964 to pay off for disposal. Her retirement from Malta was due to the gradual reduction of British forces in Malta, which had seen the disbandment of the 5th Submarine Division.
HMS Ausonia seen here leaving Malta for the last time on the 7th August 1964.
Finally, in August 1965 the decision was made to retire Ausonia and in September 1965, she was sold to a Spanish ship breaker in Castellon for £300,000. On the 13th November 1965, she left Portsmouth for the last time, under tow for Castellon and the cutting torches of the scrap yard.
The following sequence of photographs was taken by Graham Stevens on the 13thNovember 1965 and show HMS Ausonia leaving Portsmouth under tow on her way to the breakers. They are almost certainly the last photographs ever taken of the ship.
The Ausonia had served 18 years as a Cunard White Star passenger liner, 3 years as an Armed Merchant Cruiser and finally, 23 years as the fleet repair ship HMS Ausonia.
She had given a total of 44 years’ service and so past the last of the Cunard White Star, A Class liners.