Colossus was part of the Royal Navy plan to create the `British Light Fleet Carrier' in 1942 for combat in the Second World War. 16 of these light carriers were planned in total, with 8 becoming Colossus class carriers, 2 becoming maintenance carriers, 5 becoming Majestic class carriers and the final ship being cancelled. The light fleet carriers were to act as a gap between escort carriers and full-sized aircraft carriers, offering relatively strong firepower at a lower cost.
All of the light fleet carriers were intended to be completed withing 21 months of being laid down, however this was later increased to 27 months. Out of the 15 ships, only 2 actually met this target. As a result, none of the carriers saw activity during the Second World War.
In 1946, Colossus was loaned to the French Navy under the name of Arromanches.