Official Number:                       104821

Class:                                     Salvage Ship

Pennant No:                           W82

Laid down:
Builder:                                   Messrs Robert Duncan & Co, Port Glasgow
Launched:                              29 October 1894
Into Service:                           14 June 1917
Out of service:                        26 April 1919
Fate:                                      Sunk


Items of historic interest involving this ship: -  


Background Data:  Some official lists, marked as  “Lists of RFA’s” show vessels which spent some time as RFA’s during the First World War. These records are extremely sketchy and some of these vessels were “Yard Craft”, partially or wholly Dockyard manned, partly by RNR or Reserve Fleet personnel. Some of the Depot Ships staffed by skilled civilian Dockyard workers were for a time White Ensign. The Director of Stores was understood to be concerned with their manning and operationally they remained under Admiralty control


29 October 1894 launched by  Messrs Robert Duncan & Co, Port Glasgow as Yard Nr 268 named  HUGHLI for James Nourse & Co, London and Calcutta. This was reported in the Greenock Telegraph newspaper the next day as -


Greenock Tele 29 10 1894 Hughli


7 December 1894 completed. Was built for towing Nourse Line sailing vessels on the River Hughli to and from Calcutta, India

22 January 1895 at Sauger

23  January 1895 arrived at Calcutta, India

8 February 1897 Lloyds List reported that -


Lloyds List 8 2 1897 Hughli


9 May 1897 purchased by C.A. Hampton & E. Bromehead, London name unchanged

19 September 1898 attended the German steam ship Drachenfels which had lost its rudder on 13 September 1898 off Calcutta and took the Drachenfels in tow.

Drachenfels2 1900

German steam ship Drachenfels

Problems with the tow resulted in Court action in the Calcuta High Court on 25 January 1900 before Mr Justice Ali Ameer. 

1903 owners became James Nourse Ltd, London

6 May 1907 arrived at Aden

1907 owner became Richard A. Grech, London name unchanged

1911 owner became Elizabeth C.V. Grech, St Leonard’s

22 February 1915 owner became Elizabeth C.V. Grech, St Leonard’s

7 November 1915 at Mudros Bay

16 December 1915 sailed Mudros Bay with two picket boats in tow and arrived at Kephalo

26 February 1916 at Alexandria hands from HMS HANNIBAL onboard working stores

1 March 1916 sailed Alexandria

12 August 1916 at Saltburn salvaged the tug Earl of Powis

18 August 1916 off Harwich lifted HM Submarines E4 and E41 both of which had collided while on the surface and sank on 15 August 1916. From this accident only 14 members of the crew of HM Submarine E41 survived

18 September 1916 Lieutenant Richard Going RNR appointed as Commanding Officer of HM Tug Hughli

15 November 1916 Lieutenant Going RNR injured while the ship was at Falmouth. Entered RN Hospital Haslar with fractured ribs. Lieutenant William D Brymer RNR took temporary command

20 November 1916 sailed Portsmouth to Dover towing the lighter 'Dromedary'

28 November 1916 Lieutenant Going RNR discharged from RN Hospital - remained sick for a further 3 weeks

21 April 1917 passed the Folkstone Gate with two barges in tow - reported by HMS LORD MINTO

24 April 1917 off Harwich together with the tug Vanquisher and joined on 29 April 1917 by RFA ANCHORITE salvaged HM Submarine C16 which had been rammed and sunk by HMS MELAMPUS when she was at periscope depth

HMS C16 IWM Q 022030

HM Submarine C16 (IWM Q022030)

12 June 1917 arrived at Chatham

14 June 1917 became RFA manned at Chatham - Lieutenant George J Wheeler RNR appointed as Commanding Officer and Engineer Lieutenant Richmond H Newsham RNR appointed as Chief Engineer Officer

28 September 1918 Engineer Lieutenant Richmond H Newsham RNR discharged dead having died from pneumonia. He died at the Royal Cornwall Hospital, Falmouth. He is buried in Hartlepool (Stranton) Cemetery and is remembered with pride on a Screen Wall.



26 April 1919 ship lost when she struck a mine off the Belgian Coast at Nieuport. Nineteen of the crew were lost and those whose bodies were recovered are buried in various military and civil cemetries in and around Dunkirk. Eight have no known grave but the sea and are variously remembered on the Chatham, Portsmouth and Plymouth Naval Memorials. See details in 'RFA Losses' section. Ten of the crew were rescued.



‘ Paymaster Lieutenant Andrew McQueen, RFA Hughli is buried in Oostende New Communal Cemetery, Belgium’

29 April 1919 The New York Times, in a report in their edition stated that the Hughli was carrying explosives for use in clearing obstructions in the Ostend Channel.

20 October 1919 raised but was lost again


Additional information

Copyright © 2008 – 2018 Christopher J White

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