RFA DarkdaleIn the 1930’s the then Director of Stores William Gick CBE [later to become Sir William Gick CB, CBE] was becoming concerned about the age of the RFA Fleet, especially those ships which were nearing the end of their useful service life, and it was decided that the RFA needed a fleet of modern tankers to service the needs of the Royal Navy.

In the 1930’s the then Director of Stores William Gick CBE [later to become Sir William Gick CB, CBE] was becoming concerned about the age of the RFA Fleet, especially those ships which were nearing the end of their useful service life, and it was decided that the RFA needed a fleet of modern tankers to service the needs of the Royal Navy.

 

A group of six ships that were being built for the British Tanker Company (BP) to their “Three Twelve’s” design (12,000 tons deadweight, with a speed of twelve knots and a fuel consumption of 12 tons per day), were purchased whilst still on the stocks and completed for the Admiralty, these ships were “Abbeydale” (1936) and “Arndale” (1937) Swan Hunter and Wigham Richardson, “Aldersdale” (1937) Cammell Laird, “Bishopdale” (1937) Lithgows, “Boardale” (1937) and “Broomdale” (1937) Harland and Wolff.

 

During 1937 it was decided by the Admiralty that all RFA’s over 1,000 tons needed to be fitted with a standardised W/T transmitter and receiver suite, hired from and maintained by Marconi International in order to comply with the International Radio Conference held in Madrid in 1932. The first ships to be fitted with this new equipment were the six Dale class tankers that had been purchased by the Admiralty.

 

In 1939 it was quickly realised that there were insufficient tankers in the RFA fleet to meet the wartime needs of the Royal Navy, so a decision was made to increase the size of the fleet by taking over two commercially designed tankers being built for the Shell Tanker Co so that a comparison could be made against their original six tankers purchased from the British Tanker Company, these ships which were to form the “Dale” class C group were “Cairndale” Harland and Wolff (1939) and “Cedardale” Blythswood Shipbuilding (1939), and were similar in design to the original ships, though they had slight differences in the size of the diesel engines fitted and also their dimensions were slightly different.

 

The final group of “Dale” class tankers were the “D” and “E” groups which were emergency war construction vessels being built for the Ministry of War Transport and similar in design to the other groups. The “D” group were originally intended for the Eagle Oil Company but were taken over by the Admiralty whilst building, rather than take up scarce shipbuilding space that was needed for the war effort.

 

The tankers in the D group were “Darkdale” (1940) and “Denbydale” (1941) Blythswood Shipbuilding Co Ltd, “Dewdale” (1941) Cammell Laird and “Dingledale” (1941), “Derwentdale” (1941) and “Dinsdale” (1942) Harland and Wolff. These ships were the last of the Dale class to be fitted with diesel engines as priority was been given to other ships in build, so three ships of the E group of the class were fitted with steam engines, the E group were “Ennerdale” (1941) Swan Hunter and Wigham Richardson, “, “Echodale” (1941) Hawthorn Leslie and “Eaglesdale” (1942) and “Easedale” (1942) Furness Shipbuilding.

 

A nineteenth member of the class “Eppingdale” initially had RFA Officers allocated during completion, but it was decided not to take up this tanker and she reverted to the Ministry of War Transport under the name of “Empire Gold”.

 

All of the ships in the class were fitted for the carrying of fuel oils and petrol, their cargo capacity was around 11,800 tons of fuel oil and petrol, they could pump the cargo at around 270 tons per hour for the fuel oil and 50 tons per hour for the petrol.

 

All of these tankers saw service in all theatres of the war, including on Convoys, the Mediterranean and the British Pacific Fleet, a number were lost to enemy action, however three of these ships were selected for conversion to carry Landing Craft, as there was a distinct shortage of ships able to carry sufficient landing craft into operational areas, so the Landing Ship Gantry (LSG),came in to being.

 

Each of the three ships had a special gantry system built in the well decks forward and aft of the bridge, these gantries were specially designed and built by Stothert and Pitt, the LCM’s (Landing Craft Mechanised) were stowed under the gantries, six in the forward well and nine in the after well in RFA’s Derwentdale and Dewdale, in RFA Ennerdale there was only sufficient room to carry 14 LCM’s as this ship also had her oiling at sea gear stowed in the after well.

 

The use of two gantries shortened the time needed to get the LCM’s into the water and therefore shortened the time that the ships were directly off the beachhead. The Landing Craft were stowed on rollers on the deck and were hauled fore and aft by means of winches; this meant that some of the pipe work on the upper decks had to be modified, though the ships still maintained their primary function of tankers.

 

A problem arose soon after these ships were commissioned in their new role as only a small additional complement had been catered for and its quickly became apparent that extra space would be needed for the LCM crew and their maintenance crews, this was built into one of the cargo tanks.

 

After the war all three of these ships were converted back into tankers, though it was recommended at the time that if in future the need arose for converting ships to carry Landing Craft, then the design should be so that the Landing Craft could be carried in the holds as well as on deck to maximise the effectiveness of the ship.

 

 

Abbeydale

 

RFA Abbeydale

 

 

Builder: Swan Hunter & Wigham Richardson, Newcastle. Launched: 28.12.1936. Completed: 5.3.1937. Official No: 165409. Yard No: 1506. Tonnage: 8,299 grt, 4,936 nett.

Length: 466.3 feet. Beam: 61.9 feet. Draught: 33.9 feet. Pennant No: X 32 (WWII) A109 (Post 1947)

Propulsion: 1 x 4 cylinder oil engine by Wm Doxford and Sons Ltd, Sunderland, single shaft. Speed: 11.5 knots

Arrived Barrow for breaking up 4th September 1960

BATTLE HONOURS: NORTH AFRICA 1942

 

Arndale

 

 

RFA Arndale

 

 

Builder: Swan Hunter & Wigham Richardson, Newcastle. Launched: 5.8.1937. Complete:17.9.1937

Official No: 165578. Yard No: 1516. Tonnage: 8,296 grt, 4,936 nett

Length: 466.3 feet, Beam: 61.9 feet, Draught: 33.9 feet, Pennant No: X 33 (WWII), B507 (BPF), A133 (Post 1947). Propulsion; 1 x 4 cylinder oil engine by Wm Doxford and Sons Ltd, Sunderland, single shaft.

Speed: 11.5 knots

Arrived Antwerp for breaking up 12th April 1960

BATTLE HONOURS: No battle honours recorded for this vessel.

 

Aldersdale

 

 

 

Builder: Cammell Laird, Birkenhead. Launched: 7.7.1937. Completed: 19.9.1937 Official No: 165572. Yard No: 1025. Tonnage; 8,402 grt, 5,009 nett, Pennant No; X 34

Length; 466.9 feet. Beam; 62 feet. Draught; 34 feet.

Propulsion: 1 x 4cylinder oil engine by Wm Doxford and Sons Ltd, Sunderland, single shaft.

Speed: 11.5 knots

Bombed and damaged by German aircraft 4.7.1942, sunk by torpedo 7.7.1942.

BATTLE HONOURS: No battle honours recorded for this vessel.

 

 

Bishopdale

 

 

Bishopdale

 

 

 

Builder: Lithgows Ltd, Port Glasgow. Launched: 31.3.1937, Completed: 6.6.1937, Official No: 165488, Yard No: 887. Pennant No; X 66 (WWll) , A 128 (post 1947)

Length: 467.6 feet, Beam: 61.7 feet, Draught: 33.9 feet. Tonnage: 8,406 grt, 5,007 nett

Propulsion: 1 x 6cylinder oil engine by J. G. Kincaid and Co Ltd, Port Glasgow, single shaft.

Speed; 11.5 knots

Arrived for breaking up at Bilbao 1970.

BATTLE HONOURS: No battle honours recorded for this vessel.

 

 

Boardale

 

 

 

RFA Boardale

 

 

 

Builder: Harland and Wolff, Govan, Launched; 22.4 1937, Completed: 7.6.1937.

Official No: 165489, Yard No: 971g, Tonnage: 8,334 grt, 4,978 nett, Pennant No: X 67

Length: 467.8 feet, Beam: 61.7 feet, Draught: 33.8 feet.

Propulsion: 1 x 6cylinder oil engine by Harland and Wolff, single shaft.

Speed: 11.5 knots

The ship ran aground and was wrecked in Aasenfjord, Norway 30.4 1940.

BATTLE HONOURS: No battle honours are recorded for this vessel.

 

 

Broomdale

 

 

RFA Broomdale

 

 

 

 

Builder: Harland and Wolff, Govan. Launched; 2.9.1937, Completed; 3.11.1937, Official No; 165594

Yard No: 973g, Tonnage; 8,334 grt, 4,967 nett Pennant No; X 68 (WWII), B508 (BPF), A168 (Post 1947)

Length; 467.8 feet, Beam; 61.7 feet, Draught; 33.8 feet

Propulsion: 1 x 6 cylinder oil engine by builder, single shaft.

Speed: 11.5 knots

Arrived for breaking up at Bruges 2.1.1960.

BATTLE HONOURS: No battle honours are recorded for this vessel.

 

 

Cairndale

cairndale_1939

 

 

 

 

Builder: Harland and Wolff, Belfast, Launched: 25.10.1938, Completed: 26.1.1939

Official No: 167165, Yard No: 1014, Tonnage: 8,129 grt, 4,826 nett, Pennant No; X 36

Length: 465.6 feet, Beam: 59.5 feet, Draught: 33.9 feet

Propulsion: 1 x 4cylinder oil engine by Harland and Wolff, single shaft.

Speed: 11.5 knots

This ship was launched as “Erato”. Torpedoed and sunk on the 30.5.1941

BATTLE HONOURS: No battle honours are recorded for this vessel.

 

 

Cedardale

 

 

RFA Cedardale

 

 

 

 

Builder: Blythswood Shipbuilding Co Ltd, Glasgow. Launched: 25.3.1939, Completed; 25.5.1939

Official No: 167260, Yard No; 54, Pennant No; X 80 (WWII), B510 (BPF), A380 (Post 1947)

Length: 464.9 feet, Beam: 59.5 feet, Draught: 33.9 feet. Tonnage: 8,132 grt, 4,780 nett

Propulsion: 1 x 8cylinder oil engine by J. G. Kincaid and Co Ltd, Greenock.

Speed: 11.5 knots

Arrived for breaking up at Hong Kong 15.11.1959

BATTLE HONOURS: SICILY 1943.

 

 

Darkdale

 

 

RFA_Darkdale_Ship

 

 

Builder: Blythswood Shipbuilding Co Ltd, Glasgow. Launched: 23.7.1940, Completed: 15.11.1940

Official No: 165991, Yard No: 61, Pennant No; ?

Length: 463.2 feet, Beam: 61.2 feet, Draught: 33.1 feet, Tonnage: 8,145 grt, 4,742 nett

Propulsion: 1 x 6cylinder oil engine by J. G. Kincaid and Co Ltd, Greenock.

Speed: 11.5 knots

Launched as “Empire Oil”. Torpedoed and sunk at Jamestown, St Helena on the 22.10.1941 with the loss of 41 crew members.

BATTLE HONOURS; No battle honours are recorded for this vessel.

 

 

Denbydale

 

 

 

 

 

Builder: Blythswood Shipbuilding Co Ltd, Glasgow, Launched: 19.10.1940, Completed: 30.1.1941

Official No: 168051, Yard No: 62, Pennant No; X 05

Length: 163.2 feet, Beam; 61.2 feet, Draught: 33.1 feet. Tonnage: 8,145 grt, 4,743 nett

Propulsion: 1 x 6cylinder oil engine by J. G. Kincaid and Co Ltd, Greenock.

Speed: 11.5 knots

Launched as “Empire Silver”. Mined and damaged in Gibraltar 19.9.1941. Arrived for Breaking up at Blyth 22.7.1955.

BATTLE HONOURS: No battle honours are recorded for this vessel.

 

Dewdale

 

 

 

 

 

Builder: Cammell Laird, Birkenhead, Launched; 17.2.1941, Completed: 14.6.1941.

Official No: 168186, Yard No: 1054, Pennant No: X 51 (WWII), A151 (Post 1947)

Length: 465.3 feet, Beam: 59.3 feet, Draught: 33.8 feet. Tonnage: 8,265 grt, 4,860 nett

Propulsion: 1 x 8 cylinder oil engine by Harland and Wolff, Belfast. Single shaft.

Speed: 11.5 knots

Arrived for breaking up at Antwerp 23.12.1959

BATTLE HONOURS: NORTH AFRICA 1942.

 

 

Dingledale

 

 

Dingdale

 

 

 

Builder: Harland and Wolff, Govan, Launched: 27.3 1941, Completed: 10.9.1941

Official No: 168204, Yard No: 1044g. Pennant No: X 44 (WWII),B 511 (BPF), A144 (Post 1947)

Length: 463.2 feet, Beam; 61.2 feet, Draught: 33.1 feet. Tonnage: 8,145 grt, 4,755 nett

Propulsion: 1 x 8 cylinder oil engine by Harland and Wolff, single shaft.

Speed; 11.5 knots

In 1959 she was sold to Armement Maritime and re-named “Royaumont”. Arrived for breaking up at Santander 23.1.1967

BATTLE HONOURS: NORTH AFRICA 1942-43

 

 

Derwentdale

 

 

Derwentdale

 

 

 

Builder: Harland and Wolff, Belfast. Launched: 12.2.1941, Completed: 30.8.1941

Official No: 168212, Yard No; 1052, Pennant No: X 14 (WWII), A114 (Post 1947)

Length: 465.6 feet, Beam: 59.5 feet, Draught: 34 feet, Tonnage: 8,398 grt, 4,910 nett,

Propulsion: 1 x 8 cylinder oil engine by Harland and Wolf, single shaft.

Speed; 11.5 knots

Sold to commercial interests in 1960 and re-named Irvingdale 1, arrived El Ferrol for breaking up 23.7.1966.

BATTLE HONOURS: NORTH AFRICA 1942, SICILY 1943, SALERNO 1943

 

 

Dinsdale

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Builder: Harland and Wolff, Belfast. Launched: 21.20.1941. Completed: 11.4.1942

Official No: 168276. Yard No: 1078, Pennant No: X 106

Length: 465.5 feet, Beam: 59.5 feet, Draught: 33.8 feet, Tonnage: 8,214 grt, 4,781 nett

Propulsion: 1 x 4 cylinder oil engine by Harland and Wolff, single shaft.

Speed: 11.5 knots

Launched as “Empire Norseman”. Torpedoed and sunk 31.5.1942 on maiden voyage.

BATTLE HONOURS: No battle honours are recorded for this vessel.

 

 

 

Ennerdale

Ennerdale

 

 

 

Builder: Swan Hunter and Wigham Richardson, Newcastle, Launched: 21.7.1941. Completed: 11.7.1941

Official No: 168196, Yard No: 1656, Pennant No: X 73 (WWII), A173 (Post 1947)

Length: 468.4 feet, Beam: 59.4 feet, Draught: 33.8 feet, Tonnage: 8,219 grt, 4,719 nett

Propulsion: 1 x 3 cylinder triple expansion engine by Swan Hunter, single shaft.

Speed: 11.5 knots

Arrived Faslane for breaking up 14.4.1959

BATTLE HONOURS: ENGLISH CHANNEL 1942, NORTH AFRICA 1942, SICILY 1943

 

 

 

Echodale

 

 

Echodale

 

 

 

Builder: Hawthorne Leslie Ltd, Hebburn on Tyne. Launched: 29.11.1940, Completed: 4.3.1941

Official No: 168069, Yard No: 628, Pennant No: X 70 (WWII), B530 (BPF), A170 (Post 1947)

Length: 465.3 feet, Beam: 59.3 feet. Draught: 33.8 feet. Tonnage: 8,150 grt, 4,785 nett.

Propulsion: 1 x 8 cylinder oil engine by Hawthorne Leslie, single shaft.

Speed: 11.5 knots

Laid down as “Empire Granite”. Arrived La Spezia for breaking up 20.9.1961

BATTLE HONOURS: No battle honours recorded for this vessel.

 

 

 

Eaglesdale

 

 

 

Eaglesdale

 

 

 

Builder: Furness Shipbuilding Co Ltd, Middlesborough. Launched: 18.11.1941. Completed: 10.1.1942

Official No: 168248. Yard No: 339. Pennant No: X 104 (WWII). B512 (BPF), A104 (Post 1947)

Length: 463.5 feet. Beam: 61.2 feet. Draught: 33 feet. Tonnage: 8,032 grt, 4,667 nett

Propulsion: 1 x 3 cylinder triple expansion engine by Richardsons, Westgarth, single shaft.

Speed: 11.5 knots

Launched as “ Empire Metal. Arrived for breaking up at Hamburg 29.11.1959.

BATTLE HONOURS: No battle honours recorded for this vessel.

 

 

 

Easedale

 

 

Easedale

 

 

Builder: Furness Shipbuilding Co Ltd, Middlesborough. Launched: 18.12.1941. Completed: 12.2.1942

Official No: 168256. Yard No: 340. Pennant No: X 105 (WWII), A105 (Post 1947).

Length: 463.5 feet. Beam: 61.2 feet. Draught: 33 feet. Tonnage: 8,032 grt, 4,667 nett

Propulsion: 1 x 3 cylinder triple expansion engine by Richardsons, Westgarth.

Speed: 11.5 knots

Arrived Belgium for breaking up 18.2.1960.

BATTLE HONOURS: No battle honours recorded for this vessel.

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