Back in February 1917, One of the recommendations of the Grand Fleet Aircraft Committee was that fighter aeroplanes fitted with airbags instead of seaplanes should be carried for defence against Zeppelins. Ostensibly this was for two reasons:
- regular aircraft had much better speed and climbing ability and might actually be able to reach the Zeppelins
- the seaplanes were laborious to unload and could only take off in relatively calm conditions
Enabling regular aircraft to take off from the deck would provide a significant improvement.
Various attempts had been made to fit launching platforms to ships, particularly the light cruisers attached to the Fleet.
In early 1917, the Admiralty agreed to experiment with HMS Yarmouth and the ship was fitted with a launch deck mounted above the conning tower and the forecastle gun to give a run of twenty feet.
Today, Flight Commander Frederick Joseph Rutland took off in a Sopwith Pup from the platform, the first successful launch of its type.
The approach was subsequently adopted and the Yarmouth began patrols with the Pup at the ready.