RFA Fort Beaunarnois


Lower image © Imperial War Museum (FL 13178)


Previous name:                       Fort Grand Rapids, Cornish Park

Official Number:                       175606     

Class:                                      CANADIAN FORT CLASS Stores Ship

Pennant No:                             B586 / A285

Laid down:
Builder:                                     West Coast Ship Builders, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Launched:                                31 August 1944

Into Service:                             22 September 1948
Out of service:                          23 April 1962 laid up at Malta

Fate:                                         Broken up at Italy


Items of historic interest involving this ship: -


Background Data:  After the outbreak of WW2, the first cargo vessels built in Canada for the War Effort were the “North Sands” type, the hulls of which conformed to original British working drawings supplied by the North Sands Shipyard of J.L.Thompson & Sons at Sunderland. Following experience gained from these ships, improved versions with a more economic operation were introduced. These were the ”Victory” and “Canadian” types. The “Victory” type was an oil burner and two water tube boilers were substituted for the original 3 Scotch boilers. Because of the then concerns about oil fuel supplies, the “Canadian” type had coal bunkers and alternate oil fuel capacity installed, but with a reversion to the original 3 Scotch boilers of the “North Sands” type. In 1943, when the shipping situation in the Pacific was becoming acute, the British Government ordered that a number of the ships of the Canadian building programme  be completed as Stores Issuing Ships whose intended task would be to follow and victual naval units as part of the British Pacific Fleet Train. In all, sixteen ships were completed as Stores Issuing Ships as follows: three as Ammunition Carriers, two as Air Stores Issuing Ships, two as Naval Stores Issuing Ships and nine as refrigerated Victualling Stores Issuing Ships. All were managed by commercial companies with vast experience of Far Eastern Waters as Mercantile Fleet Auxiliaries with Merchant Navy Crews and a detachment of Stores Staff from the Victualling Division of the Admiralty under a Commander. On the refrigerated ships, the refrigerated space was in the tween decks and amounted to 111,480 cubic feet in 25 chambers. The lower holds were used for non-perishable items of stores, clothing, etc. After WW2, eight of these ships became RFA’s. They were only armed during WW2.


31 August 1944 launched as a “Victory” type by West Coast Shipbuilders Ltd, Vancouver as Yard Nr 146 named FORT GRAND RAPIDS for the Canadian Government (Park Steamship Co, Montreal, Managers)

29 October 1944 completed as a refrigerated VSIS named CORNISH PARK

8 November 1944 as Cornish Park sailed from Vancouver to Victoria, British Columbia

12 November 1944 sailed Victoria, British Columbia arriving Los Angeles on 17 November 1944

17 November 1944 sailed Los Angeles independently to Balboa arriving on 29 November 1944

29 November 1944 sailed Cristobal independently to New York

9 December 1944 sailed in convoy HX325 from New York to Southend loaded with lead and lumber arriving 23 December 1944

31 January 1945 as Cornish Park sailed Southend joining convoy ON282 from Liverpool to New York and then independently to Cristobal arriving 23 February 1945

24 February 1945 sailed Balboa independently to Antofagasta, Chile arriving 5 March 1945

9 March 1945 sailed Antofagasta, Chile independently to San Antonio arriving on 12 March 1945

23 March 1945 sailed Valpariso independently to Chanaral arriving 27 March 1945

2 April 1945 sailed Chanral to Antofagasta, Chile arriving on 3 April 1945

4 April 1945 sailed Antofagasta, Chile to Los Angeles arriving 24 April 1945

25 April 1945 sailed Los Angeles independently arriving Port Townsend, Washington State, USA on 1 May 1945

1945 sold to the Ministry of War Transport and managed by A Holt & Co, Liverpool and renamed FORT BEAUHARNOIS

3 December 1945 arrived at Sydney, Australia.

18 December 1945 sailed from Sydney, NSW, Australia to Newcastle, NSW and Manus arrived 26 December 1945

2 May 1946 arrived Sydney, NSW, Australia from Hong Kong

3 June 1946 sailed Sydney, NSW, Australia for Hong Kong

6 June 1946 in touch by radio with Rockhampton

12 July 1946 arrived at Yokohama

1947 placed under the management of Lyle Shipping Company, London

31 March 1947 Captain W D Wilson was the ship's Master

3 May 1947 sailed Hong Kong to Kure arriving 9 May 1947

9 May 1947 arrived at Kure, Japan and berthed alongside HMAS HOBART to supply general cargo to the warship

13 May 1947 at Kure, Japan 2nd Engineer Robert Muirhead Thompson discharged dead having suffered a heart attack. Buried in Yokohama War Cemetery - British section R D 4 

13 May 1947 sailed Kure to Hong Kong arriving 22 May 1947

5 July 1947 sailed Hong Kong to Kure arriving 11 July 1947

16 July 1947 sailed Kure to Yokohama arriving 18 July 1947

2 August 1947 sailed from Yokohama to Kure arriving 5 August 1947

9 August 1947 sailed Kure to Hong Kong arriving 15 August 1947

30 August 1947 on passage from Hong Kong to exercise area as detailed below

2 September 1947 and 3 September 1947 together with FORT SANDUSKY, RN and RAN ships together with US Navy Aircraft from Okinawa took part in Exercises Adgate Two and Three within an area 31 43N 127.34E and 29.26N 128.40E

5 September 1947 after exercise Adgate Three berthed at Kagoshima to replenish various ships which had taken part in the exercise

13 September 1947 sailed Kure to Sasebo arriving 15 September 1947

20 September 1947 sailed Sasebo to Kure arriving 25 September 1947

4 October 1947 sailed Kure to Hong Kong arriving 9 October 1947

24 December 1947 sailed Hong Kong to Sydney, NSW arriving 15 January 1948

13 February 1948 sailed Sydney, NSW to Melbourne arriving 15 February 1948

25 February 1948 sailed Melbourne to Fremantle arriving 4 March 1948 to load 2,131 gallon jars of rum

4 March 1948 berthed at Fremantle

5 March 1948 sailed Freemantle to Singapore arriving 15 March 1948

8 March 1948 the Kalgoorlie Miner newspaper reported that -

Press Report Kalgoolie Miner 8 3 1948

19 March 1948 sailed Singapore to Colombo arriving 25 March 1948

1 April 1948 sailed Colombo to Aden arriving 9 April 1948

10 April 1948 sailed Aden to Suez arriving 15 April 1948

16 April 1948 arrived at Port Said sailing the same day to London

30 April 1948 berthed at Tilbury, London with 6 passengers with Captain C(?) D Wilson as ship's Master

14 May 1948 sailed London to Portsmouth arriving the next day

1948 taken over by the Admiralty as an RFA and converted into a Store ship

1 June 1948 berthed at Portsmouth Harbour

FBEAU at Portsmouth 24 1 48

RFA FORT BEAUHARNOIS in Portsmouth Harbour during 1948

24 July 1948 announced that the Home Fleet's Autumn Cruise to the West Indies and to South Africa. Among the ships taking part were to be HMS's DUKE OF YORK (Flagship of Vice Admiral Sir Rhoderick R McGrigor KCB), THESEUS, VENGEANCE, DIADEM, SOLEBAY, BULAWAYO and RFA FORT BEAUHARNOIS

1 September 1948 Captain Thomas H Card RFA appointed as Master

22 September 1948 became an RFA and sailed from Portsmouth Harbour to San Fernando, Trinidad arriving 9 October 1948

18 October 1948 sailed San Fernando, Trinidad to Plymouth, Tobago arriving the same day

24 October 1948 sailed Plymouth, Tobago to Bridgetown, Barbados arriving 25 October 1948

2 November 1948 sailed Bridgetown, Barbados to Castries, St. Lucia arriving the next day

3 November 1948 sailed Castries, St Lucia to a port in Dominica arriving the next day

8 November 1948 sailed Dominica to Nassau, Bahamas arriving 13 November 1948

17 November 1948 sailed Nassau, Bahamas to Bermuda arriving 21 November 1948

26 November 1948 at Bermuda Police Court Refrigeration Greaser Ernest Edward Henry Hicks from the ship appeared charged with larceny of magazines from another member of the crew - he was convicted and fined 5/-

29 November 1948 sailed Bermuda to Antigua arriving 3 December 1948

5 December 1948 sailed Antigua to Fayal, Azores arriving 13 December 1948

14 December 1948 sailed Fayal, Azores to Spithead arriving 19 December 1948 

20 December 1948 berthed at Portsmouth Harbour

14 January 1949 sailed from Portsmouth Harbour

15 February 1949 passed Lloyds Signal Station on the Lizard sailing westwards

30 March 1949 Mr Arthur L Barr RFA appointed as Chief Engineer Officer



Chief Engineer Officer Arthur L Barr RFA

23 April 1949 berthed at Portmouth Harbour

16 May 1949 sailed from Portsmouth Harbour 

22 June 1949 Captain William B Browne OBE RFA appointed as Master

29 June 1949 passed Lloyds Signal Station on the Lizard sailing westwards

4 July 1949 passed Lloyds Signal Station on the Lizard sailing eastwards

6 July 1949 together with units of the Home Fleet and RFA BLACK RANGER commenced Exercise Verity in the Western Approaches

30 November 1949 Mr G A Calvert RFA appointed as Chief Engineer Officer

8 December 1949 berthed at Portsmouth Harbour

9 January 1950 sailed from Portsmouth Harbour. Shortly before she sailed the Portsmouth Evening News published an image of her alongside on South Railway Jetty

FBEAU 9 1 50 at Portsmouth

10 January 1950 berthed at Portsmouth Harbour.

20 March 1950 sailed from Portsmouth Harbour

23 May 1950 arrived at Malta from Devonport

26 May 1950 sailed Malta for Devonport

4 June 1950 berthed at Devonport from Malta

5 June 1950 the Yorkshire Post & Leeds Mercury reported -

Press Report Yorkshire Post 5 Jun 1950

14 November 1950 berthed at Malta from Gibraltar with Prince Phillip's polo pony 'Ballarin', his car and 40 cases of personal effects as cargo. The Prince had been appointed to a shore position in the Royal Navy at Malta with his wife the then Princess Elizabeth

15 December 1950 passed the Lloyds Signal Station on the Lizard sailing east

2 February 1951 Mr Wilfred C Shortland RFA appointed as Chief Engineer Officer

11 May 1951 Mr George McBain RFA appointed as Chief Engineer Officer until 13 May 1951 when the ship was at Newport, Monmouthshire

July 1951 sailed from Bermuda returning Naval Stores to the UK upon the closure of the Royal Naval Dockyard - this was the first of four such voyages

27 July 1951 sailed Malta to Rosyth

26 February 1952 Mr Lionel W Pool RFA appointed as Chief Engineer Officer

4 March 1952 at Plymouth (see Note (2) below)

23 April 1952 at Chatham (see Note (2) below)

2 May 1952 sailed Chatham

14 May 1952 berthed at Malta

3 October 1952 in support of Operation Hurricane 1- the first British test atomic bomb explosion at Monte Bello Islands off NW Australia - along with RFA’s FORT CONSTANTINE,  FORT ROSALIE (1), GOLD RANGER, WAVE KING, WAVE PRINCE, WAVE RULER (1) and  WAVE SOVEREIGN.

22 December 1952 berthed at Malta having arrived from Gibraltar

15 January 1953 Mr Allan D Harris RFA appointed as Chief Engineer Officer

4 February 1953 berthed at Chatham Dockyard

11 March 1953 sailed Malta for Gibraltar

27 July 1953 Mr Oscar Goodwin RFA appointed as Chief Engineer Officer

10 January 1954 a De Haviland Comet aircraft call sign YOKE PETER crashed into the Tyrhennian Sea to the south of Elba with the loss of 35 lives. Between February and May that year, RFA SEA SALVOR recovered parts of the wreckage.

6 March 1954 sailed Malta with parts of the Comet aircraft (see above) for examination at the Royal Aircraft Establishment, Farnborough

8 April 1954 berthed at Chatham Dockyard

6 May 1954 Mr George McBain RFA appointed as Chief Engineer Officer

1 June 1954 Commodore William B Browne OBE RFA appointed Master

12 August 1954 arrived Malta with Rear Admiral Brittain as a passenger

8 March 1955 Mr Charles M Morgan RFA (Commander (E) R.N.R. (ret)) appointed as Chief Engineer Officer

21 March 1955 sailed Chatham Dockyard

30 April 1955 passed the Lloyds Signal Station at Dover sailing east

16 October 1955 Captain Howard D Gausden DSO RFA appointed as Master


Captain Howard D Gausden

Captain Howard D Gausden DSO RFA
photo taken when as an Apprentice in 1919

19 October 1955 passed the Lloyds Signal Station at Dover sailing east

5 November 1955 passed the Lloyds Signal Station at Dover sailing west signalling she was bound for Malta

15 December 1955 passed the Lloyds Signal Station at Dover sailing east

14 April 1956 Mr J Wilson RFA appointed as Chief Engineer Officer

15 May 1956 at 35°20N 37°50W 2nd Engineer Douglas Hermann Buckley RFA discharged dead from 2nd and 3rd degree scalds


2nd Engineer Officer Douglas H Buckley RFA
early in his career at sea

23 June 1956 arrived at Port London, Christmas Island to support Operation Grapple- the British H-bomb test  in the Pacific Ocean - after a voyage via Panama and Honolulu. Served with 16 other RFA’s during the test period.




1 May 1957 sailed Melbourne, Australia having loaded provisions for Operation Grapple on Christmas Island

18 November 1957 Commodore Thomas Elder CBE DSC RFA appointed as Master

29 November 1957 Mr Allan D Harris RFA appointed as Chief Engineer Officer

22 January 1958 deployed for duties in support of Operation Grapple on Christmas Island with 933 tons 15cwts of cargo

22 July 1958 Captain William R Parker RFA appointed as Master

22 August 1958 present at Christmas Island during atomic bomb tests

22 January 1959 Arrived Leith for refit and while there suffered a fire aboard,

16 February 1959 Captain Rowland K Hill OBE RFA appointed as Master

Captain Rowland Kelsey Hill OBE

Captain Rowland K Hill OBE RFA

1 May 1959 deployed for the second time for duties in support of Operation Grapple on Christmas Island with 15 tons 2.75cwts of cargo

15 July 1959 together with USS Current (ARS 22) involved in the salvaging of MV Beaverbank stranded at the English Harbour entrance to Fanning Island at 3.51N 159.22W. Salvaged by 24 July 1959


USS Current (ARS 22)

20 December 1959 Mr Hugh C F Sweenie RFA appointed as Chief Engineer Officer

1960 was employed carrying stores and official passengers to the Mediterranean and Far East

8 July 1960 berthed at Malta from Chatham

6 August 1960 Captain Douglas G Cox OBE RFA appointed as Master

16 August 1960 sailed Chatham to Aden and Singapore with 8 passengers

2 November 1960 sailed Malta to Gibraltar

3 November 1960 challenged by HMS BERMUDA 'What ship where bound'

14 December 1960 sailed Chatham to Malta and Singapore with 6 passengers

23 December 1960 berthed at Malta from Chatham

15 March 1961 at 44.54N 8.32W Ships Writer Robert Colin Louis Hughes discharged dead with heart failure while being invalided home on HMT Nevasa

20 March 1961 Captain Alfred M Uglow RFA appointed as Master until 30 March 1961

12 December 1961 Captain Douglas S Norrington OBE RD RFA (Commander RNR) appointed as Master

13 December 1961 at sea at 37.35N 09.17E Seaman 1 Sk Fakir Abdulrehman discharged dead - natural causes - heart failure - buried at sea

19 December 1961 Mr N Bothwell RFA appointed as Chief Engineer Officer

17 February 1962 berthed Devonport from Gibraltar and Malta with an eight month old donkey as cargo. The animal had been presented by HMS PHOENICIA, Malta to HMS EXCELLENT, Whale Island as a mascot

23 April 1962 laid up at Malta transferred to the MoT for disposal

July 1962 placed on the Disposal List

23 July 1962 advertised for sale 'as lying' at Malta in The Times of this day


Times Fort Beau 23 7 1962


8 November 1962 arrived La Spezia for demolition by Cantieri Navali Santa Maria



  1. Prior to RFA service was a member of the British Pacific Fleet - hence the B pennant number
  2. From the Discharge Book of Fred W J Raddon


Additional information

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