Welcome to Historical RFA
For the Master of RFA Wave Governor, Captain Walter L. Holtam RFA, the voyage out to Brazil in November 1957 in ballast was reaching its end.
The ship was off Curacao when he received a report that six of the Lascar crew had thrown themselves over the side and were swimming ashore.
The ‘Fresh’ class of water tank vessels were launched during World War 2 and during their early years 12 of the 14 ships in the class were manned by the RFA. These vessels would have been a familiar sight around the naval dockyards and anchorages, taking fresh water and boiler feed water to warships and auxiliaries.
In January 1918 RFA Sprucol, one of the Admiralty designed 1,000 ton class of oilers, was completed at the shipyard of Short Brothers, Pallion, Sunderland. As a brand new coastal and harbour tanker, the ship was badly needed to service the vast Royal Navy fleet with much needed oil fuel, and as well as supplying this precious commodity, the fuel also had to be collected from Naval storage facilities.
During the Korean War, two RFA Wave “boats” took turns to replenish the UNITED NATIONS task force in the Yellow Sea on the west coast of Korea; one on duty and the other on stand-by in Sasebo or Kure, Japan. In 1952/3, the Wave Chief was one of them. (The US navy supply ships looked after the east coast.) This is the story of one of four teenage deck apprentices aboard WAVE CHIEF, an 18 year-old serving his second year at sea.
It was an exciting and educational time for us. En route to Sasebo, we enjoyed transiting the Panama Canal with a brief stopover at Pearl Harbour before proceeding to our home base - Sasebo, Japan. Captain Albert Edward Curtain, pictured at left, hailed from South African. He was a wonderful commander, affectionately known as “Jan.” Many afternoons we apprentices were ordered to the empty dining saloon to work on our compulsory correspondence courses. Jan sat at the front ready to help. But, I digress...
RFA Gold Rover arrived at Portsmouth Harbour on 22 February 2017 to pay off for the last time after over 43 years of service in the Royal Fleet Auxiliary
Requisitioned Auxiliaries of World War 1
Regular visitors to the site will have noticed that not only do the RFA Historical Society research and publish vast amounts of material concerning the ships and the people of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary in order to preserve the facts for posterity but also that there are regular updates to the Requisitioned Ships’ Section.
On the outbreak of WW1 thousands of commercial ships were requisitioned for tasks which were sometimes extraordinarily different to the tasks these same ships had performed in peacetime.
Very large numbers of ship were needed to not only transport vital supplies of food, coal, oil, ammunition and other goods but also to serve in other roles to protect, interrogate or investigate ships which may or may not have been what they appeared to be. Thus something in the region of 3,000 ships were requisitioned for service as Collier Transports alone, nearly 300 ships as Oiler Transports, then many others to serve in such diverse roles as Store Carriers, Armed Merchant Cruisers, Armed Boarding Steamers, Auxiliary Minesweepers and other lesser but still important roles, which resulted in thousands of tons of shipping being lost but more tragically, thousands of lives of Merchant Seafarers too.