RFA Aquarius



Previous name:                     Hampstead

Subsequent name:                HMS Aquarius,  Santi  

Official Number:                   112768                                                   

Class:                                  Stores and Distilling Ship

Pennant No:                         N 13 / N06

Laid down:
Builder:                                Austin & Son, Wear Dock, Sunderland
Launched:                            25 September 1900
Into Service:                         1905
Out of service:                      1920 Sold out of service
Fate:                                   Wrecked


Items of historic interest involving this ship: -


Background Data:  Soon after the turn of the 20th Century, the Admiralty acquired a number of small tankers and store-ships and from the experiments conducted with these tankers was obtained the experience which resulted in the building of a large number of tankers of various sizes which were especially designed for their task of refuelling warships. None of these early ships were sister ships, and they became the first Admiralty vessels to fall into the new RFA category on its inception in 1905


25 September 1900 launched by S.P. Austin & Son Ltd, Wear Dock, Sunderland as Yard Nr 211 named HAMPSTEAD for Wm Cory & Son Ltd, London

October 1900 completed

23 January 1901 sailed Bueno Ayres

26 March 1901 arrived at Rosario

1901 purchased by the Admiralty

January 1902 was renamed AQUARIUS and was used as a stores and distilling ship

27 February 1903 the Portsmouth Evening News of this day reported on the refit of AQUARIUS -

Aquarius Portsmouth News

24 April 1903 the Portsmouth Evening News reported on AQUARIUS again -

Aquarius Portsmouth News 2


3 June 1903 arrived  at Portsmouth

22 July 1903 sailed Devonport for exercises and then passage to Malta

25 July 1903 arrived at Gibraltar

7 August 1903 arrived at Gibraltar

11 August 1903 sailed Gibraltar

23 September 1903 arrived at Portsmouth for maintenance 

7 October 1903 sailed Portsmouth for Portland to await orders

4 February 1904 at Arosa Bay sailing for Vigo

25 February 1904 at Weymouth Police Court eighteen stokers from the ship were charged under the Merchant Shipping Act with refusing to do their work. Mr Howard Bown, Admiralty Solicitor prosecuted. Evidence was given that on 20 February 1904 at Portland the men had requested to go ashore but the machinery being dirty - the ship had just returned in rough seas from Vigo - they were told to continue to do their work. They refused and the matter was reported to the Flag Captain who directed they be prosecuted. The men were civil and not disorderly and some had since expressed regret. The defendants pleaded in extenuation that the ship had been at sea four days since leaving Vigo and some had not been ashore for a month. The Bench considered the evidence and ordered the men to pay a fine of 5/- each. Reported in the Times of the 26 February 1904

27 May 1904 off Cape de Gatt Stoker Dan Gear discharged dead - tumor on the brain. Stoker Gear died on board HMHS MAINE (1)

3 June 1904 sailed Gibraltar for Portsmouth

15 June 1904 berthed on No: 14 Buoy at Portsmouth

29 July 1904 in Parliament the Government advised the new Ships Bill then passing through the chamber was needed due to fleet auxiliaries such a the Hospital Ship MAINE and the distilling ship Aquarius were not part of the Royal Navy (The Times of 30 July 1904)

30 July 1904 anchored at Spithead

9 August 1904 together with five colliers arrived at Torbay before the flag ship HMS EXMOUTH flying the flag of Vice Admiral Sir Arthur K Wilson VC and the rest of the Channel Fleet

HMS Exmouth 1906


16 September 1904 at Portsmouth Harbour berthed on South Slip Jetty

7 February 1905 berthed at Vigo from Villagarcia

22 February 1905 sailed Berehaven

22 March 1905 arrived Portland from Berehaven

1905 grounded on Kimmeridge Ledge, 2 miles West of St Alban’s Head, in thick fog while proceeding at 9 knots

1 June 1905 berthed at Portsmouth

9 August 1905 in No: 11 dry dock at Portsmouth Harbour

19 February 1906 sailed Portland to Portsmouth arriving the next day

6 March 1906 sailed Portsmouth to Portland arriving the same day

18 April 1906 sailed Portland to Portsmouth arriving the same day

9 May 1906 sailed sailed Portsmouth to Milford Haven arriving the next day

17 May 1906 sailed Milford Haven to Portland arriving the next day. The Master was Captain John E Edwards (Lieutenant Commander RNR) RFA

15 June 1906 at Dover to be part of Naval Exercises. Was part of Blue Side which consisted of 57 ships sailing for Portland at the end of the exercise

17 June 1906 sailed Portland to Milford Haven arriving the next day

23 June 1906 sailed Milford Haven to Lundy Island arriving the same day and anchored close to HMS MONTAGU which was aground. A wire hawser was made fast from the port quarter to the bow of HMS MONTAGU so that a hose could be run between the two ships. Over some five weeks some 1,600 tons of fresh water was supplied to HMS MONTAGU chiefly to the salvage plant on the battleship. The Aquarius was also used as stores ship for the salvage operation which was taking place on HMS MONTAGU

8 August 1906 sailed Lundy Island to Pembroke Dock arrived the next day

12 August 1906 Able Seaman Robert Smith discharged dead. He died in the Royal Naval Hospital at Pembroke Dock from natural causes

29 November 1906 berthed at Hull

1906 transferred to the White Ensign as a Repair and Distilling Ship


Aquarius cap tally


3 July 1907 with other ships of the Fleet was inspected in the Solent by H M the King

6 August 1907 arrived at Portland from Portsmouth

1 September 1907 was transfered from the Home Fleet to the Channel Fleet

7 December 1907 at Lamlash involved in a collision with HMS EXPRESS

11 March 1908 sailed Portland for Bantry

29 March 1908 when at anchor in Oitir More Bay, near Oban, was struck by a heavy squall, dragged her anchor and ran ashore, remaining there for four hours and then coming off under her own steam. An examination of the vessel was made in dock and it was ascertained that it was necessary as the result of grounding to effect some repairs to outer bottom plates, frames and bilge keel. - Hansard 14 May 1908

25 January 1909 at Portland the steam pinnace of the battleship HMS SWIFTSURE carrying 30 men from HMS AQUARIUS ashore sank. All were saved except 2nd Class Armourer I Fall from the battleship who drowned

March 1909 was in the 2nd Destroyer Flotilla of the Home Fleet

14 September 1909 sailed Sheerness for Scapa Flow for manoeuvers

6 June 1910 passed St Catherines Point

12 September 1910 arrived at St Andrews Bay, Fife to set targets for gunnery practice

17 October 1910 together with HMS's TOPAZ and SKIRMSHER passed Prawle Point

28 July 1911 arrived at Grangemouth from Queensferry

30 January 1912 sailed Sheerness for Harwich

22 July 1912 sailed from Grangemouth

6 March 1913 Commander Cyril T Hewlett-Cooper Royal Navy appointed in Command

1 July 1913 commission as a Repair Ship at Sheerness

6 July 1913 at Harwich

14 July 1913 sailed from Harwich

1914 to 1915 served with the 8th Destroyer Flotilla, Forth

27 August 1914 at Queensferry with HMS TB36 berthed alongside

2 September 1914 entered the newly constructed docks at Rosyth and berthed alongside

25 December 1914 Officer's Steward 2nd Class Clarence Herbert Flatman discharged dead - drowned - he is buried in Queensferry Cemetery


Flatman C 2

Courtesy and © of The War Graves Photographic Project


1915 served Mediterranean submarines, then as a Water Carrier and Depot Ship

30 June 1915 at Rosyth

10 July 1915 off Immingham on passage to Sheerness

6 August 1915 at Mudros

29 August 1915 at Mudros - carpenters party onboard from HMS EUROPA

31 August 1915 ERA 4th Class Mark Aitchinson Tarn discharged dead at Mudros. He is buried in East Mudros Military Cemetery in Grave 11 K 186. He died of dysentery



Courtesy and © of The War Graves Photographic Project


15 November 1917 Lieutenant Charles W Bray RNR discharged dead at Mudros. He is buried in East Mudros Military Cemetery in Grave 111 H 219. The original headstone for Lieutenant Bray's grave was removed from East Mudros Military Cemetery and can now be found in Ipswich Old Cemetery, Suffolk on his father's grave.



Courtesy and © of The War Graves Photographic Project


14 March 1918 arrived at Port Mudros together with RFA KHARKI

16 March 1918 arrived at Port Mudros

26 March 1918 at Suda Bay, Crete together with RFA BACCHUS (1)

30 March 1918 Commander Robert L Way OBE Royal Navy appointed in Command

18 May 1918 at Suda Bay, Crete with a working party discharging cargo from No: 1 hold of RFA BACCHUS (1)

5 July 1918 at Subay Bay, Crete

11 July 1918 to 21 July 1918 at Suda Bay, Crete with ships carpenters on RFA BACCHUS (1) building three wooden deck houses for accommodation for ships officers on that ship

13 July 1918 at Suda Bay, Crete ships doctor attended RFA BACCHUS (1) to treat patient

22 July 1918 at Suda Bay received four ratings from RFA BACCHUS (1) for medical treatment

26 July 1918 at Suda Bay received four ratings from RFA BACCHUS (1) for medical treatment

6 August 1918 Officer's Steward 2nd class Ernest W Hoskin discharged dead at Corfu. He is buried in Corfu British Cemetery in Grave 27


Courtesy and © of The War Graves Photographic Project

23 October 1918 at sea to the east of the Corinth Canal

11 November 1918 in the Mudros area

16 November 1918 at Ismid

23 December 1918 Engineer Commander Harold B Sears DSO MID Royal Navy appointed Chief Engineer Officer

14 January 1919 at Constantinople

20 November 1919 berthed at Malta

8 December 1919 berthed at Devonport

9 December 1919 sailed Devonport to Sheerness

17 February 1920 paid off - source Navy List 1921

1920 placed on the Sales List by the Shipping Controller

14 May 1920 sold by the Ministry of Shipping (Directorate of Ship Purchase) and purchased for £60,000 by Cia Naviera Amaya (C de Zabala, Manager) Bilbao, Spain on the Spanish registry and was renamed SANTI

18 November 1922 stranded on rocks on Plana Island off  Cape Santa Pola while on passage from Huelva to Alicante and her holds became full of water

22 November 1922 she broke amidships, making salvage impossible, and became a total loss

Additional information

Copyright © 2008 – 2018 Christopher J White

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