RFA Black Ranger 2At the beginning of World War 2 the Admiralty owned a number of tankers, unfortunately most of these were either small or old, the modern tankers that the Admiralty had started to acquire, the “Dale” class were slow in comparison with those used by the US Navy.  One other drawback attributed to British tankers, was their lack of refuelling capacity, in short for much of the war they could only refuel by the astern method, abeam refuelling was still largely in the experimental stage and not anything like as developed as that used by our American allies, as became quickly apparent when RFA Tankers were first used in the Pacific Fleet Train.

 

The Ranger class were designed by Rowland Baker and were intended to replace the “Belgol” class of 2,000 ton tankers, however as their was a distinct lack of tanker capacity during the war, the “Belgol” class remained in service throughout the war.

 

 

At the beginning of World War 2 the Admiralty owned a number of tankers, unfortunately most of these were either small or old, the modern tankers that the Admiralty had started to acquire, the “Dale” class were slow in comparison with those used by the US Navy.  One other drawback attributed to British tankers, was their lack of refuelling capacity, in short for much of the war they could only refuel by the astern method, abeam refuelling was still largely in the experimental stage and not anything like as developed as that used by our American allies, as became quickly apparent when RFA Tankers were first used in the Pacific Fleet Train.

 

The Ranger class were designed by Rowland Baker and were intended to replace the “Belgol” class of 2,000 ton tankers, however as their was a distinct lack of tanker capacity during the war, the “Belgol” class remained in service throughout the war.

The class were designed with the foremast fitted on the starboard bow, the bridge and funnel was offset to port, with a dummy funnel forward of the real one and with an additional canvas deckhouse, all of this was intended to present a silhouette to an attacking U Boat that did not look like a tanker.

 

The Ranger’s were a single deck design with poop and forecastle, with all accommodation and machinery aft.  They were built in two groups; the “Gold” Ranger group were built by the Caledon Shipbuilding Company of Dundee and included “Gold Ranger”, “Gray Ranger” and “Green Ranger”, whilst the “Black” Ranger group were all built by Harland and Wolff at Govan and included “Black Ranger”, “Blue Ranger” and “Brown Ranger”.

 

The Black Ranger group were all fitted with a single 6 Cylinder Burmeister and Wain diesel engine, built by Harland and Wolff with a single screw.  The Gold Ranger group were all fitted with a single 4 Cylinder Doxford Diesel engine with a single screw; all of the class were fitted with two multi tube auxiliary boilers.

 

The class also carried a distilling plant that was capable of producing up to 10 tons of water per day.

 

Cargo capacity in these ships was 2,600 tons of fuel oil, 550 tons of diesel oil and 90 tons of petrol, they had two pump rooms for discharging the cargo, the main pump room had two pumps capable of pumping the oil fuel at 350 tons per hour and the second pump room had a 20 ton per hour pump for discharge of the petrol.  The petrol pump room had a pyrene fire fighting system fitted and the petrol tanks were surrounded by water ballast tanks, in addition to this the deck over the petrol tanks were armoured with 100 lb steel plating.

 

The bridge was also armoured with 4 inch thick plastic plating placed on the front sides and ends of the bridge and 2.5 inch plating on the top.

 

The class were originally fitted for the stirrup method of refuelling over the stern; the stirrup rail ran across the well deck and along the boat deck and could carry around 250 feet of flexible bronze hose.  When they were first launched, non of the class were capable of refuelling by the  abeam method, however later in the war two forty foot derricks were fitted in the forward well, one port and one starboard, with enough 5 inch hose to enable them to undertake this method.

 

During our research into the design of this class it was discovered that the original design included the fitting of a stowage for a small petrol carrying boat, which was intended to be kept in a special stowage on the starboard side of the bow, under the forecastle.  They were also designed to have a wooden spar platform fitted to the after end of the forecastle deck, which was to carry a cased aircraft, though we did not find any record of either of these being used.

 

The armament in the class was a single 4 inch LA gun, one 12 pdr HA/LA gun and two Lewis machine guns as originally built, but this evolved from ship to ship throughout the war and a typical armament fit toward the end of the war would have probably been one 4 inch LA gun, one single 40mm Bofors and four single 20mm Oerlikons.

 

Black Ranger

 

Builder: Harland and Wolff, Govan

Launched: 28th August 1940                             Completed: 28th January 1941

Yard No: 1046g                                                 Official No: 168058

Tonnage: 3,417 grt, 1,631 nett

Length: 349.4 feet                          Beam: 47 feet                      Draught: 22.6 feet

Machinery: 1 x 6 Cylinder Burmeister and Wain oil engine by Harland and Wolff, single screw.

Speed: 14.5 knots

Pennant Numbers: X 48 (World War 2), A 163 (Post 1947)

Call Sign: GWKT

 

BATTLE HONOURS for this vessel: No battle honours recorded

 

The ship was based at Scapa Flow for the duration of the war, taking part in a number of Convoys to Russia, as well as the raids on the Norwegian coast.  After the war the ship was based at Portland as part of the training squadron, with occasional cruises to the Baltic as well as a couple of deployments with the Royal Yacht.

 

In 1961 the ship was accidentally rammed from underneath by the submarine HMS Thule, whilst on a training exercise, there was reputedly a famous signal sent from the submarine to the tanker, which read: “Thule’s rush in, where Rangers fear to tread”.

 

Sold to J. S. Latsis in 1973 and renamed “Petrola XIV”, the ships name was changed again in 1976 to “Petrola 14” with the same company.  The ship was broken up in Greece in February 1983.

 

 

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RFA Black Ranger in 1952

 

 

 

 

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RFA Black Ranger in 1971

 

 

 

 

Blue Ranger

 

Builder: Harland and Wolff, Govan

Launched: 29th January 1941                            Completed: 5th June 1941

Yard No: 1047g                                                  Official No: 168176

Tonnage: 3,417 grt, 1,631 nett

Length: 349.4 feet                           Beam: 47 feet                    Draught: 22.6 feet

Machinery: 1 x 6 Cylinder Burmeister and Wain oil engine by Harland and Wolff, single screw.

Speed: 14.5 knots

Pennant Numbers: X 57 (World War 2), A 157 (Post 1947)

 

BATTLE HONOURS for this vessel: No battle honours recorded

 

After the war the ship was based in the Mediterranean, mostly at Malta as part of the Mediterranean Squadron, when the base at Malta was run down, the ship was placed in reserve.

 

Sold to C. Diamantis in 1971 and renamed “Korytsa”.  Broken up at Aliaga in September 1987.

 

 

 

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RFA Blue Ranger

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brown Ranger

 

Builder: Harland and Wolff, Govan

Launched: 12th December 1940                        Completed: 10th April 1941

Yard No: 1048g                                                  Official No: 168022

Tonnage: 3,417 grt, 1,631 nett

Length: 349.4 feet                           Beam: 47 feet                     Draught: 22.6 feet

Machinery: 1 x 5 Cylinder Burmeister and Wain oil engine by Harland and Wolff, single screw.

Speed: 14.5 knots

Pennant Numbers: X 69 (World War 2), B 509 (BPF), A 169 (Post 1947)

Call Sign: GWKW

 

BATTLE HONOURS for this vessel: NORTH AFRICA 1942, KOREA 1950-52

 

At the beginning of the war the ship was based at Gibraltar and took part in some of the Malta Convoy’s as an escort oiler, she also supported the landings in North Africa.  The ship was used as a water tanker attached to the British Pacific Fleet Train and was present for the operations at Leyte, later taking part in the re-occupation of Hong Kong and Shanghai; she was then based in Japan for a short period.  After the war she was based in the UK and accompanied HMS Vanguard on the tour of South Africa with the Royal Family, after which she divided her career between the UK and the Mediterranean Station.

 

Arrived at Gijon, Spain on the 28th May 1975 for breaking up.

 

 

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RFA Brown Ranger in 1954

 

 

Gold Ranger

 

Builder: Caledon Shipbuilding and Engineering Company Limited, Dundee.

Launched: 12th March 1941                                  Completed: 4th July 1941

Yard No: 389                                                         Official No: 168175

Tonnage: 3,313 grt, 1,506 nett

Length: 339.7 feet                               Beam: 48.3 feet                   Draught: 22.6 feet

Machinery: 1 x 4 Cylinder oil engine by William Doxford and Sons Ltd, Sunderland.  Single screw.

Speed: 14.5 knots

Pennant Numbers: X 30 (World War 2), A 130 (Post 1947)

 

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

 

For the majority of her career the ship was based in the Indian Ocean and on the China Station, which includes service in the Korean War.  The ship also supported the Inshore Squadron during the Borneo Operations, whilst based at Singapore.  In 1949 the ship was based for a while at Bermuda, where she made frequent trips to the Falkland Islands to fill the tanks there, and on one occasion accompanied the Research ship “John Briscoe” to Deception Island with a cargo of diesel and petrol for the Air Base there.

 

Arrived at Hong Kong in March 1977 for breaking up.

 

 

 

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RFA Gold Ranger in 1951

 

 

 

 

 

Green Ranger

Builder: Caledon Shipbuilding and Engineering Company Limited, Dundee.

Launched: 21st August 1941                                  Completed: 4th December 1941

Yard No: 391                                                          Official No: 168231

Tonnage: 3,313 grt, 1,556 nett

Length: 339.7 feet                               Beam: 48.3 feet                  Draught: 22.6 feet

Machinery: 1 x 4 Cylinder oil engine by William Doxford and Sons Ltd, Sunderland.  Single screw.

Speed: 14.5 knots

Pennant Numbers: X 42 (World War 2), B 515 (BPF), A 152 (Post 1947)

 

BATTLE HONOURS for this vessel: KOREA 1951-52

 

The ship was at one time used as the Royal Navy’s first large spirit carrier, carrying a cargo of white oil, and served in the East, based first at Mombasa.

 

Whilst in reserve at Devonport the ship was being towed to Cardiff for a refit when she broke her tow and ran aground 5 miles South of Hartland Point on the 17th November 1962. The ship broke in two and became a total loss.

 

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RFA Green Ranger

 

 

 

 

Gray Ranger

 

Builder: Caledon Shipbuilding and Engineering Company Limited, Dundee

Launched: 27th May 1941                                        Completed: 25th September 1941

Yard No: 390                                                            Official No: 168210

Tonnage: 3,313 grt, 1,506 nett

Length: 339.7 feet                                Beam: 48.3 feet                    Draught: 22.6 feet

Machinery: 1 x 4 Cylinder oil engine by William Doxford and Sons Ltd, Sunderland.  Single screw.

Speed: 14.5 knots

 

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

 

Torpedoed by U 435 (Kapitanleutnant Siegfried Strelow) at 07:19 hrs on the 22nd September 1942, whilst part of convoy QP 14.  The ship was in ballast at the time of the attack, and whilst not sinking immediately, HM Ships sank her with gunfire owing to the presence of enemy vessels in the area, of the 39 crew members on board the ship, six perished and there were 33 survivors who were picked up by the rescue ship “Rathlin” and landed at Gourock on the 26th September 1942.

 

 

Copyright © 2008 – 2017 Christopher J White

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