RFA Echodale



Previous name:                         Empire Granite

Subsequent name:

Official Number:                        168069

Class:                                        1st DALE CLASS Freighting Tanker

Pennant No:                              X 70 / B 530 / A170

Laid down:                                 4 January 1940
Builder:                                      Hawthorne Leslie, Hebburn on Tyne

Launched:                                  29 November 1940

Into Service:                              4 March 1941

Out of service:                          12 April 1959

Fate:                                          Broken up 1961


Items of historic interest involving this ship: -


Background Data:  Originally there were to have been nineteen ships in this Class. The first six were purchased off the stocks from the British Tanker Co Ltd whilst building at the instigation of the then Director of Stores, Sir William Gick, who was concerned at the age of the RFA Fleet and ships that were approaching the end of their economic lives. A further two ships were purchased from Anglo Saxon Petroleum Co Ltd for evaluation purposes. At the outbreak of WW2, a further eleven ships were acquired from the MoWT war programme although one of these, to have been named EPPINGDALE, which had been registered in London as EMPIRE GOLD on 21/02/43 and intended for transfer to the Admiralty for manning and management as an RFA and despite five Officers being appointed to her, the intended transfer was cancelled the following day and she thus never entered RFA service. Three of this Class were converted into LSG’s and were then reconverted back into tankers at the end of the War.


29 November 1940 launched by Hawthorn Leslie & Co Ltd, Hebburn as Yard Nr: 628 named ECHODALE for the Ministry of Shipping

9 December 1940 Mr Harold M Pearson RFA appointed as Chief Engineer Officer

20 February 1941 Captain Bertram Tunnard RFA appointed as Master



Captain Bertram Tunnard RFA


4 March 1941 completed and acquired by the Admiralty

15 March 1941 saild the Tyne to Methil arriving 17 March 1941

18 March 1941 sailed Methil in convoy EN881/1 to Loch Ewe

24 March 1941 sailed Liverpool in Convoy OB302 arriving at Aruba on 17 April 1941 to load

18 April 1941 sailed Aruba independently to Halifax arriving 26 April 1941

30 April 1941 sailed Halifax in convoy HX124 to Liverpool arriving 21 May 1941

30 June 1941 sailed Liverpool in convoy OB341 to Curacao arriving on 18 July 1941

23 July 1941 sailed Curacao independently to Freetown arriving on 9 August 1941

29 August 1941 at Freetown, Sierra Leone HMS DUNEDIN alongside to be refuelled



5 September 1941 attempted to refuel HMS EAGLE (Force F) at sea and alongside - six hawsers snapped during the attempts to secure to the tanker.

6 September 1941 further attempts to secure ahead of HMS EAGLE at sea resulted in fourteen hawsers parting due to the strain of the tanker towing the aircraft carrier. At 1300 HMS Eagle was then successful with a further stern RAS (again with the tanker towing the aircraft carrier) with an estimated time to transfer the FFO and aviation fuel being 20 hours.

7 September 1941 the hawsers parted yet again. One wire whipped as parted hitting two ratings on HMS EAGLE - one received facial injuries and the other had arm, leg and abdominal injuries. The replenishment was stopped.

8 September 1941 HMS EAGLE was successfully replenished (all bar 500 tons of FFO). HMS DORSETSHIRE was then RASed. Some officers and crew of HMS EAGLE were transferred to RFA ECHODALE for passage to Freetown

HMS Dorsetshire


9 December 1941 Mr A Ballentyne OBE RFA appointed as Chief Engineer Officer

17 February 1942 sailed Freetown independently to New Orleans arriving 15 March 1942

15 March 1942 until 13 April 1942 undergoing repairs at New Orleans, USA

13 April 1942 sailed New Orleans independently to Key West arriving on 20 April 1942

23 April 1942 sailed Key West independently to Cape Town arriving 22 May 1942

29 May 1942 sailed Cape Town independently joining on 4 June 1942 convoy CM28 to Mombasa. The convoy was being escorted by the cruiser HMS FROBISHER

HMS Frobisher


10 June 1942 sailed Mombassa independently to Aden arriving on 18 June 1942

22 June 1942 sailed Aden independently to Mombasa arriving 4 July 1942

1 October 1942 sailed Mombassa independently to Durban arriving 9 October 1942

23 November 1942 sailed Durban independently to Cape Town arriving 27 November 1942

28 November 1942 sailed Cape Town independently to Freetown arriving 10 December 1942

15 April 1943 damaged while berthing alongside the liner QUEEN MARY

RMS Queen Mary Wartime

QUEEN MARY in wartime grey paint

29 July 1943 reported she had engine defects with a reduced speed of 4kts and not possible to reach a normal speed until at least 12 August 1943

13 October 1943 sailed Freetown in convoy SL138 with later joined convoy MKS28 to the Clyde arriving on 5 November 1943

18 November 1943 sailed the Clyde independently to Loch Ewe arriving the next day

20 November 1943 sailed Loch Ewe in convoy WN508 to Methil arriving 22 November 1943

23 November 1943 sailed Methil in convoy FS1280 to the Tyne arriving the next day

24 November 1943 arrived on the Tyne - at Wallsend for degaussing and refitting of OAS and defensive armament equipment

25 November 1943 Mr D S Wood RFA appointed as Chief Engineer Officer

26 November 1943 Captain Cecil R Rosen RFA appointed Master

14 January 1944 under going repairs on the Tyne completed 20 January 1944

30 January 1944 sailed the Tyne and joined convoy FN1251 to Methil

31 January 1944 sailed Methil in convoy EN340 to Oban arriving on 2 February 1944  - RFA BLUE RANGER was also part of this convoy

13 February 1944 sailed Oban in Convoy OS68/KMS42 to Gibraltar arriving 25 February 1944 - RFA DEWDALE and RFA ENNERDALE were also part of this convoy and (later) HMS SALVAGE DUKE

25 February 1944 sailed Gibraltar in convoy KMS42 to Port Said arriving 6 March 1944

8 March 1944 sailed Suez independently to Aden arriving 14 March 1944

16 March 1944 sailed Aden independently to Abadan to load arriving 23 March 1944

25 March 1944 sailed Abadan independently to Bandar Abbas 

28 March 1944 sailed Bandar Abbas in convoy PB73 to Bombay  arriving on 3 April 1944

14 April 1944 sailed Bombay in convoy BM93 to Colombo arriving 19 April 1944

26 April 1944 sailed Colombo in convoy JC46 along with RFA’s APPLELEAF (1) and  EAGLESDALE to Trincomalee arriving on 28 April 1944

17 May 1944 orders were issued from the C in C Eastern Fleet for Operation Transom - an attack on Soerabaja) detailing Force 67 (the Tanker Force) would consist of RFA EAGLESDALE (as Force Commodore) together with RFA's ECHODALE, EASEDALE, ARNDALE, APPLELEAF (1) and PEARLEAF and distilling and NSI ship RFA BACCHUS (2)

7 June 1944 at Trincomalee

15 July 1944 was the first ship to use the new AFD 23 at Trincomalee. This floating dock collapsed some days later with the battleship HMS VALIANT aboard

HMS Valiant 1914


16 November 1944 conducted successful OAS trials off Trincomalee with the battleship HMS HOWE using two 5-inch buoyant rubber hoses

HMS Howe


13 January 1945 RFA ECHODALE sailed Trincomalee, Ceylon with  RFA's WAVE KING and EMPIRE SALVAGE together with  HMS's CEYLON and  URCHIN as Force 69 to take part in Operation Meridan - an air attack on the oil refineries at Palembang to put them out of action. They were joined in the fuelling area south of Sumatra by RFA ARNDALE which was despatched from Freemantle 2 days later

27 January 1945 refuelled HMS VICTORIOUS

22 February 1945 sailed Trincomalee under the escort of HMS TRENT for replenishment duty during Operation Stacey in Force 62 - Operation Stacey was a series of photographic reconnaissance missions covering Sumatra and Kra Isthmus

7 March 1945 on completion of Operation Stacey the RN ships refuelled and all returned to Trincomalee

2 May 1945 took part in Operation Dracula- the seizing of the port of Rangoon - along with  RFA GOLD RANGER

10 May 1945 escorted by HMS PALADIN in Force 70 for replenishment of ships of Force 61 during interception of Japanese warships reported on passage in Malacca Straits (Operation DUKEDOM)

14 May 1945 refuelled the Battleship HMS Queen Elizabeth

12 June 1945 sailed Trincomalee independently to Bombay arriving 18 June 1945

5 August 1945 sailed Bombay independently to Abadan arriving 10 August 1945

12 August 1945 sailed Abadan independently to Trincomalee arriving 22 August 1945

27 September 1945 Mr Henry S Edwards RFA appointed as Chief Engineer Officer


Chief Engineer Officer Henry S Edwards RFA

10 October 1945 at sea off Singapore Deck Bhandary Cajee Ismail Cajee Yusoofdischarged dead after suffering from heart failure

8 November 1945 sailed Bangkok to Saigon arriving 11 November 1945

17 November 1945 sailed Saigon independently to Singapore arriving 1 December 1945

25 April 1946 arrived at Singapore from Hong Kong

1 May 1946 sailed Singapore to Kure arriving 12 May 1946

17 May 1946 sailed Kure to Singapore arriving 26 May 1946

3 June 1946 sailed Singapore to Hong Kong then to Colombo

4 July 1946 arrived  Colombo from Hong Kong. Sailed 8 July 1946 to Bombay

16 July 1946 sailed Bombay to Abadan arriving 23 July 1946

25 July 1946 sailed Abadan passing Aden on 4 August arriving at Port Said on 12 August 1946

21 August 1946 sailed Malta

12 August 1946 sailed Port Said to Malta arriving 16 August 1946 then to Taranto

21 August 1946 sailed Taranto passing Gibraltar on 26 august 1946 and the Needles on 30 August 1946 berthing at Portsmouth Harbour on the next day

23 October 1946 Captain John M Humphrey OBE DSC RFA appointed Master

Captain J M Humphrey OBE

Captain John M Humphrey OBE DSC RFA
taken early in his career at sea

21 December 1946 sailed from Portsmouth Harbour

26 December 1946 passed Gibraltar from Portsmouth Harbour to Port Said arriving on 2 January 1947

3 January 1947 sailed Port Said to Aden arriving on 9 January 1947 and then to Abadan

18 January 1947 sailed Abadan to Colombo arriving 27 January 1947

27 January 1947 sailed Colombo to Singapore arriving 3 February 1947

16 February 1947 sailed Hong Kong for Colombo

10 August 1947 sailed Port Said for Aden and Abadan

19 September 1947 sailed Abadan for the UK

15 March 1948 passed Gibraltar sailing east bound

27 August 1948 sailed Malta for Port Said

13 September 1948 arrived at Abadan from Malta

24 November 1948 Mr David L S Hood DSC RFA appointed as Chief Engineer Officer

2 April 1949 arrived Port Said from Devonport

21 May 1949 Captain George S Perry RFA appointed as Master

 G S Perry

Captain George S Perry RFA

18 August 1949 arrived at Suez from Abadan

6 October 1949 Mr Harold M Pearson RFA appointed as Chief Engineer Officer

26 October 1949 arrived at Fremantle, Western Australia to discharge from Abadan

4 November 1949 berthed at  Fremantle, Western Australia (North Wharf No 1 Berth) for  engine repairs

7 November 1949 sailed from Fremantle, Western Australia  to Abadan

3 January 1950 arrived Palmers Yard, River Tyne from Stanlow

6 January 1950 Captain Emil E Sigwart RFA (Temporary Lieutenant Commander RNR) appointed as Master

Captain E Sigwart

Captain Emil E Sigwart RFA

25 June 1950 to 27 July 1953 part of the Fleet Train during the Korean War - as a freighting tanker only

11 August 1950 arrived at Glasgow from Abadan and Mr Alexander B McIntyre RD RFA (Commander (E) RNR (ret)) appointed as Chief Engineer Officer

Alex Bain McIntyre photo

Chief Engineer Officer Alexander B McIntyre RD RFA

16 August 1950 sailed for Abadan

8 January 1951 at the Royal Naval Hospital, Portland Lascar 1st Class Fackeer Bassa discharged dead from pneumonia. On the same day the ship berthed at Palmers Yard on the River Tyne

13 May 1951 Mr William John Brown OBE DSC RFA appointed as Chief Engineer Officer

18 June 1951 Captain Archibald Hobson DSC RFA appointed as Master

  Capt Archibald Hobson Photo

Captain Archibald Hobson DSC RFA

19 March 1952 at Devonport moved from the Sound to her berth by RFA CAREFULL

21 March 1952 Mr Henry E Thirkell RFA appointed as Chief Engineer Officer

23 March 1952 at Devonport moved from her berth to the Sound by RFA CAREFULL

14 October 1952 Mr George Bray RFA appointed as Chief Engineer Officer

CEO George Bray in 1918

Chief Engineer Officer George Bray RFA ( image taken 1918)

8 November 1952 arrived Suez

20 January 1953 arrived at Bombay

1 March 1953 sailed Hong Kong

21 April 1953 arrived at Bahrein

20 July 1953 arrived Bombay from Mena Al Ahmadi

19 February 1953 arrived at Singapore Roads

3 September 1953 arrived Suez

25 September 1953 Mr R C Veitch RFA appointed as Chief Engineer Officer

4 October 1953 Captain Thomas Elder DSC RFA appointed as Master

26 May 1954 Mr Henry E Thirkell RFA appointed as Chief Engineer Officer

1 June 1954 arrived at Palmers, River Tyne from Swansea

1 July 1954 at Hebburn on Tyne Secunny Eusoof  Abdooraman discharged dead having suffered from a stroke

7 July 1954 sailed the River Tyne on trials

21 July 1954 sailed the River Tyne for Gibraltar

26 September 1954 passed the Lloyds Signal Station at Dover sailing westbound

19 May 1955 in refit at Wallsend Slipway, River Tyne and Mr J B D Payne RFA appointed as Chief Engineer Officer

6 May 1956 Captain C N Rennels RFA appointed as Master

18 May 1956 Mr T H Purvis RFA appointed as Chief Engineer Officer

2 August 1956 directed to Gibraltar to fully load a cargo of FFO for Malta (from a Top Secret signal from the C in C Mediterranean to Flag Officer Gibraltar and the ship)

23 September 1956 while in the Mediterranean the 2nd Officer was taken seriously ill. Surgeon Lieutenant D. J. Cripps, Royal Navy was taken by helicopter, at night, from HMS ALBION to Echodale when he was lowered onto the ship and attended to the patient. This was believed to be the first night flight off a carrier by a helicopter - reported in The Times of the 25 September 1956

31 October 1956 in Operation Musketeer- the Suez Crisis - along with 34 other RFA’s

30 August 1957 passed Thursday, Island, Australia

15 January 1958 Mr A M Evans RFA appointed as Chief Engineer Officer

9 May 1958 Captain Douglas N J Williams RD RFA (Commander RNR (Rtd)) appointed as Master

12 April 1959 laid up at Devonport for disposal

28 June 1960 advertised for sale in the Times of this day 'as lying' at Devonport 

5 July 1960 advertisment for sale withdrawn in the Times of this day.

23 March 1961 re-advertised for sale in the Times of this day 'as lying' at Devonport

30 August 1961 sailed Devonport in tow for Italian breakers

20 September 1961 arrived La Spezia to be broken up.




Was part of the British Pacific Fleet Train - hence the B-pennant number

Additional information

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