At the beginning of 1943 the Admiralty decided that it needed more tankers to support the Royal Navy, so a decision was made to acquire two 15 knot tankers that were being built by Harland and Wolff, these tankers were of the Standard Design and the keel of the first had just been laid, both of these ships would be taken over on completion.

 

The Admiralty was aware that the main function of these ships, which were to be manned and operated by the RFA, was to be refuelling at sea.

 

 

At the beginning of 1943 the Admiralty decided that it needed more tankers to support the Royal Navy, so a decision was made to acquire two 15 knot tankers that were being built by Harland and Wolff, these tankers were of the Standard Design and the keel of the first had just been laid, both of these ships would be taken over on completion.

 

The Admiralty was aware that the main function of these ships, which were to be manned and operated by the RFA, was to be refuelling at sea.

 

In consequence special consideration was given to the arrangement and type of fittings that would be needed on these ships.  Unfortunately as time was short and these ships were badly needed, only some limited alteration was made to the design and fitting out of these two ships.

 

The first of these ships was laid down as “Empire Sheba” and launched on the 6 April 1944 when she was re-named “Wave King”; she was quickly followed by “Wave Monarch” which had originally been laid down as “Empire Venus” and which was launched on the 6 July 1944.

 

 

RFA Wave King

 

RFA Wave King

 

 

These two ships were to be the first of what became a class of twenty tankers. Some of the class were equipped with either one or two RAS derricks for alongside replenishment at sea and the others were fitted out as freighting tankers but all of the class had the ability to replenish astern.

 

What is not generally known is that there was a twenty first “Wave” class tanker, though this ship was never commissioned into RFA service and instead spent her life in commercial work under various flags for nearly thirty years. This vessel was the ss Beechwood and her details appear below;

 

SS Beechwood

Builder: Sir James Laing and Sons Ltd, Deptford Yard, Sunderland.

 

Launched: 14 March 1945                    Completed: August 1945

 

Official Number: 180616                        Yard Number: 759

 

Tonnage: 8,199 grt, 4,644 nett

 

Length: 473 feet                   Beam: 64.1 feet                 Draught: 35.6 feet

 

Propulsion: 2x steam turbines, double reduction gearbox, single screw.

 

Speed: 15 knots

Beechwood

 

ss Beechwood

 

 

On completion the ship was under the management of J. I. Jacobs and Co Ltd of London, for Oil and Molasses Tankers Ltd, also of London.  In 1955 the ship was sold to Magliveras and as well as being renamed “City of Athens”, she was also converted to a dry cargo vessel. In 1957 the ship changed names again, this time to “Marianne”, though under the same owner until 1964, when she was sold to Patt Manfield and Co and renamed “Constellation”.

 

The ship was sold for the final time in 1969 to C.T. Chu and renamed “Golden Moon”, where she remained until the 17th February 1972, when she was laid up in the Kaohsiung River until November 1973, when she was finally broken up.

 

 

Copyright © 2008 – 2017 Christopher J White

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