RFA Melita



Previous name:                        HMS Ringdove
Subsequent name:                   Telima

Official Number:                        132764

Class:                                      REDBREAST CLASS Gunboat (originally)

Pennant No:                             X37 /  X40

Laid down:                               1 June 1888

Builder:                                     HM Dockyard, Devonport
Launched:                                 30 April 1889
Into Service:                              7 December 1915
Out of service:                           22 January 1920
Fate:                                        Sold out of service commerically


Items of historic interest involving this ship: -


Background Data:  She was one of a Class of 9 gunboats  2 of which were converted into Salvage Ships, designed by Sir William Henry White, the Royal Navy Director of  Naval Construction in 1888, which were the last of the composite-hulled gunboats built for the Royal Navy. The Class consisted of HM ships GOLDFINCH, LAPWING, MAGPIE, REDBREAST, REDPOLE, RINGDOVE, SPARROW, THRUSH and WIDGEON


30 April 1889 launched by HM Dockyard, Devonport as the composite gunboat HMS RINGDOVE

November 1889 conducted trils off Malta - reached 11 knots in a 'choppy sea'

16 September 1890 commissioned for service in Australian waters with Lieutenant Commander E Bain, Royal Navy in command

4 October 1890 underwent a three hour full power trial off Plymouth developing 709 horse power and speeds of upwards of 13 knots

13 October 1890 underwent further trials over ten days in the Channel 

12 November 1890 delayed at Plymouth pending the Admiralty's decision as to whether the 1st Lieutenant - Lieutenant Philip J Hodges Royal Navy - should be Court Martialed over a personal matter

24 November 1890 arrived at Gibraltar to bunker - sailed 26 November 1890 for Malta

2 December 1890 arrived at Malta

19 December 1890 arrived at Port Said

30 December 1890 arrived at Aden and sailed 2 January 1891

20 January 1891 sailed Colombo, Ceylon for Australia

2 February 1891 arrived at Batavia and sailed the same day

17 February 1891 arrived at Thursday Island

22 February 1891 sailed Thursday Island

21 July 1891 arrived at Brisbane from the Solomon Islands

24 August 1891 arrived at Cooktown from New Guinea

23 April 1897 arrived at Tandjong Priok and sailed 26 April 1897 for the Seychelles

15 May 1897 arrived at the Seychelles

21 May 1897 sailed the Seychelles for Aden

28 May 1897 arrived at Aden

31 May 1897 sailed Aden for England

8 June 1897 arrived at Port Said, sailing the next day for Malta

15 June 1897 arrived at Malta and sailed 21 June 1897 for Plymouth

28 June 1897 arrived at Gibraltar from Malta, sailing the same day for Plymouth

4 July 1897 returned to Devonport

17 July 1897 paid off into the fleet reserve at Devonport

15 October 1897 underwent a two hour trial in the Channel off Plymouth

9 November 1897 recommissioned at Devonport for a further 4 years service - Commander Ralph P Ayscough Royal Navy in command

18 November 1897 sailed Devonport

3 December 1897 arrived at Malta from Gibraltar

13 December 1897 sailed Malta for Port Said

17 December 1897 arrived at Port Said

27 December 1897 arrived at Aden

30 December 1897 sailed Aden for Colombo

13 January 1898 arrived at Colombo

17 January 1898 sailed Colombo for Sydney, NSW

18 February 1898 sailed Thursday Island for Sydney, NSW

28 February 1898 arrived at Townsville and sailed the next day for Sydney, NSW 

17 March 1898 arrived at Sydney NSW

20 May 1907 Lieutenant W W Wilson Royal Navy appointed in command

18 December 1912 Lieutenant L M Darbyshire Royal Navy in command

1914 to 1915 on the Examination Service at Queenstown, Ireland

November 1915 taken in hand for conversion into a Salvage Vessel

7 December 1915 Was renamed MELITA

 3 January 1916 Engineer Lieutenant Walter M Murdoch RNR appointed as Chief Engineer Officer. He signed off on 1 October 1917

29 January 1916 Lieutenant  Horace A Gauld RNR appointed in command. He was transferred on 17 April 1917 to RFA Racer

26 June 1916 at Torr Point, Ireland salvaged the Ammunition Carrier No: 68

4 July 1916 Stoker Petty Officer Hugh Rooney discharged dead - drowned. He was cremated at Edinburgh (Seafield) Crematorium and remembered on the Screen Wall in the Cemetery


Rooney Ringdove

Courtesy and © of The War Graves Photographic Project

21 July 1916 salvaged ss Canada at the Maidens, near Larne

30 July 1916 salvaged the ss Arival on Islay

30 October 1916 at Montrose the lock gates became impossible to open and RFA MELITA attended and lifted the dock gates allowing the Transport Dawlois to proceed to sea

1917 re-entered service as a Salvage Vessel

17 April 1917 Lieutenant John W Miskin RNR appointed in command. Had previously been Chief Officer.

2 July 1917 Rigger Albert Seager logged as deserting. He had signed on on 27 May 1916

1 October 1917 Engineer Lieutenant William H Reynolds RNR appointed as Chief Engineer Officer

16 October 1917 Lieutenant William Pryce-Thomas RNR appointed in command. He previously served as the Chief Officer of RFA Racer

Capt W Pryce-Thomas

Lieutenant William Pryce-Thomas RNR

29 November 1917 Rigger John F Harwood discharged dead. He had signed on on the 26 May 1916. He drowned at Leith, Scotland and is buried in an unmarked grave in Edinburgh (Seafield) Cemetery.



Panel 6 remembers Rigger Harwood

12 January 1918 HMS Opal and HMS Narborough, both destroyers reported missing while enroute to Scapa Flow in heavy snow. RFA Melita advised not required for the search as the destroyers must be assumed to have foundered.

14 January 1918 wreckage of two destroyers found at Windwick Bay at 58 46N 2 0W RFA Melita directed to sail to Aberdeen. One survivor (AB William Sissons) from HMS Opal found. Court of Enquiry set up.

6 July 1918 Rigger George Metcalf logged as deserting. He had signed on 6 May 1918.

4 September 1918 Fireman John A Gordon logged as deserting. He had signed on on 5 September 1917

J A Gordon

Fireman John A Gordon

18 September 1918 Lieutenant James Elias RNR appointed in command

19 June 1919 safely salvaged HMS TRYPHON which was aground on the Island of Tenedos

Tryphon salvaged 19 6 19

© IWM Q7701


27 June 1919 offered for sale by the Admiralty - advertised in the Times

Press Report The Times 27 6 1919

22 January 1920 sold to Ship Salvage Corporation (J.R. Delanet, Manager) Plymouth and was renamed TELIMA

9 March 1920 arrived Albert Dock, Hull for bunkers from Bridlington

13 March 1920 involved with other ships in the salvage of a Norwegian ship Morgana which lost her propeller off the Yorkshire coast. Awarded £300 in a subsequernt claim in the Admiralty division of the High Court and reported in the Times on the 23 June 1920

21 December 1920 at Gravesend brought in by towing the steamer Limehouse to anchor after being salvaged

6 June 1921 at 54.52N 5.34W Labourer Albert Oldershaw discharged dead - missing at sea presumed drowned

13 February 1922 at Harwich alongside the Dutch steamer BW3. The ss BW3 while on passage from London to Newcastle suffered her pumps being chocked and had 4 feet of water in her engine room. The vessel had her engine room pumped dry

10 February 1924 stood by ss Brook after the ss Brook had been in collision with the ss Capulin. Brook's afterhold was full of water

1926 reported broken up during the 2nd quarter of this year


Ships of the same name


Melita. An Algerine class minesweeper built by Redfern, Toronto and launched on the 8 December 1942, she was reduced to a drill ship in April 1947 and renamed Satellite.  Arrived at Rees, Llanelli for breaking up on the 25 February 1959.

Battle Honours for this Vessel: NORMANDY 1944, ATLANTIC 1945, EAST INDIES 1945.

Additional information

Copyright © 2008 – 2017 Christopher J White

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