RFA Elmleaf


Previous name:                     OLIVET
Subsequent name:                MELONA,   ATHELCREST,  VLISMAR II 

Official Number:                    140252                                                           

Class:                                    Emergency Wartime Construction LEAF Group Freighting Tanker

Pennant No:                          Y7.157

Laid down:
Builder:                                  Earle’s Shipbuilding Co Ltd, Hull
Launched:                             1916
Into Service:                           14 March 1917
Out of service:                       1920

Fate:                                       1983 Broken Up 


Items of historic interest involving this ship: - 


Background Data:   During WW1, 18 vessels of varying types were acquired second hand and converted or purchased and converted while on the stocks, or in a few cases building as tankers. Some were converted after serving with the Dummy Battleship Squadron by the insertion of cylindrical tanks in their holds. All were originally intended to operate as RFA’s however, owing to reasons of international law and the operation of the US Neutrality Act, these oilers became Mercantile Fleet Auxiliaries, being renamed with the LEAF nomenclature and placed under civilian management although operationally they remained under Admiralty control


1916 launched by  Earle’s Shipbuilding Co Ltd, Hull as Yard Nr 614 named RFA OLIVET

14 March 1917 completed and placed under management of Lane & MacAndrew Ltd, London as an oiler transport and renamed  ELMLEAF. Base port Devonport

31 May 1917 an Admiralty report on this ship showed she had completed only one round trip from the UK. On her return she grounded having run ashore on "North About" passage from Hull. This required her to be dry docked on the River Clyde for 9 days - source MT23/808 at the TNA

7 December 1917 sailed New York in convoy escorted by HMS CARNARVON

24 December 1917 whilst on passage from Port Arthur,Texas to the U.K. she was torpedoed and damaged by a German submarine U91 with a cargo of oil and in a position 27  miles WSW of Cape Wrath. No fatalities. Towed to port. Her lost cargo was valued at £24,549. Captain Frederick H Gething RFA was Master


Captain Frederick H Gething DSC RFA

20 April 1918 Captain Frederick H Gething RFA was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his action on 27 December 1917 - the award published in the London Gazette of this day. He was also awarded the Lloyds Medal for Meritorious Service in Silver 

21 December 1918 arrived at Portland from Port Arthur, Texas

15 January 1919 berthed at Trinidad from Portland

3 March 1919 at Havana, Cuba alongside HMS DAUNTLESS and supplied her with 298 tons of FFO

15 May 1919 berthed at Devonport from Galveston, Texas

1919 sold to Anglo-Saxon Petroleum Co., London

3 July 1919 passed the Lloyds Signal Station on the Lizard sailing west bound

February 1920 Captain Frederick H Gething DSC appointed as Master

8 February 1920 sailed Avonmouth for Key West

7 March 1920 sailed Tampico, Texas for Gibraltar

6 May 1920 arrived at New Orleans from Genoa

23 May 1920 arrived at Tampico from New Orleans

3 June 1920 sailed Tampico for St Catherines Point

19 July 1920 arrived at New York having sailed from Rotterdam on 3 July 1920

15 September 1920 sailed Colon for Tampico, Texas

3 October 1920 Captain H E Hill was Master

2 November 1920 while at Good Hope 15 miles up river from New Orleans twenty four members of the Chinese crew rioted when told that the US authorities had stopped shore leave. The crew members armed themselves with knives, pieces of wood and iron and rushed US guards. The guards opened fire with pistols and eleven of the crew were wounded. Two of the injured were not expected to live. Some reached shore and hid. Others surrendered

3 November 1920 the New York Herald newspaper reported the above incident thus -

Press Cutting New York Herald 3 11 1920

21 November 1920 sailed from Port Eads to Tampico

13 December 1920 cleared to sail from New Orleans

20 December 1920 sailed Tampico for St Catherines Point

11 January 1921 reported as off Dover - later the same day berthed at Rotterdam

14 April 1921 Captain J Hill was Master

18 April 1921 passed the Lloyds Signal Station on the Lizard sailing west bound

7 May 1921 berthed at Houston 

11 May 1921 sailed Houston

30 May 1921 arrived Colon 

24 June 1921 at Panama City

30 June 1921 sailed Curacao for LEFO

14 August 1921 reported at Tampa

22 August 1921 sailed Bermuda for LEFO

7 September 1921 Captain Gordon H C White was Master


Captain Gordon H C White

10 September 1921 reported off the Isle of Wight

11 September 1921 berthed in the Port of London

23 September 1921 renamed Melona.

1 October 1921 berthed at Tampa 

2 October 1921 sailed Tampico for LEFO

22 October 1921 arrived Liverpool from Tampico

9 November 1921 sailed Liverpool for Key West for orders

10 March 1922 sailed Pierre Point for Lisbon

November 1924 sold to British Molasses Co., London and renamed Athelcrest. In 1926 Company became United Molasses Company

1 September 1926 grounded at Movile - making water - to be dry docked

24 February 1927 berthed at Colombo while on passage from Java to Avonmouth sailing the same day

5 March 1927 sailed Aden

11 March 1927 sailed Suez

19 March 1927 passed Gibraltar sailing westbound

24 March 1927 berthed at Avonmouth

28 March 1927 sailed Avonmouth

12 June 1928 berthed at Manchester from Havana with 2 passengers

19 June 1928 sailed Liverpool for Avonmouth

21 June 1928 berthed at Avonmouth from Liverpool

23 June 1928 sailed Avonmouth

16 August 1928 off Marcus Hook refinery, Pensylvania Captain G T Williams discharged dead

24 December 1928 sailed Trinidad

15 January 1929 under going repairs at Ponta Delgada

22 February 1929 berthed at Avonmouth

4 November 1929 involved in a collision with ss John Cadwalader in the River Delaware off Deepwater Point, USA - reported in the New York Times

17 February 1930 berthed in London from Trinidad via New York with 1 passenger

1930's laid up in Lamlash Bay during the Shipping Depression

1935 sold to N. V. Vlissingsche Mineraalolie en Asphalt Raffinaderij, Vlissingen, Holland and renamed Vlismar II. Converted to a storage hulk.


Vlismar II as a hulk at Flushing


7 February 1983 towed from Flushing to Burcht, Belgium for breaking up. 

Additional information

Copyright © 2008 – 2018 Christopher J White

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