RFA Mercedes
Mercedes 02

 


Subsequent name:                Juan Olavarriaga,  Iberia,  Virgen de Begona,, Euzkera,  Elanchove

Official Number:                     114846

Class:                                    Collier 

Pennant No:                          P92 / X28 / Y3.1928

Laid down:                            1900

Builder:                                 Northumberland Shipbuilding Co Ltd, Howden-on-Tyne

Launched:                             27 November 1901
Into Service:                         1908
Out of service:                      1920

Fate:                                     Sold commercially

 

Items of historic interest involving this ship: -

 

Background Data:  Soon after the turn of the 20th Century, the Admiralty acquired a number of small tankers and store ships and from the experiments conducted with these tankers was obtained  the experience which resulted in the building of a large number of tankers of various sizes which were especially designed for their task of refuelling warships. None of these early ships were sister ships, and they became the first Admiralty vessels to fall into the new RFA category on its inception in 1905

 

27 November 1901 launched by Northumberland Shipbuilding Co Ltd, Howden-on-Tyne as Yard Nr: 97 named MERCEDES for Christie & Co Ltd, Cardiff

14 December 1901 the Shields Daily Gazette reported ...

Shields Daily Gazette 14 Dec 1901

11 February 1902 ran trials on completion. She was designed for the carriage of coal and other goods from Australia and New Zealand to the West Coast of North America, Hong Kong and Japan then back to New Zealand

22 February 1902 sailed the River Tyne

13 July 1902 berthed at Westport, New Zealand to load coal for Hong Kong

19 July 1902 Wah Chin, a native of Canton was found smothered and dead in the stoke hold, discharged dead. He was buried at sea while the ship was on passage to Hong Kong from Westport, New Zealand

31 July 1902 the Master reported to the authorities at Wellington, New Zealand he had been diverted to Wei-Hai-Wei to refuel 11 British warships. He also reported that plague was prevelant in Hong Kong and those who had succumbed could be seen floating in the harbour - he estimated that 30 - 40 deaths a day were occuring in the Colony

27 August 1902 arrived at Hong Kong

13 September 1902 passed Thursday Island while on passage from Hong Kong to Westport, New Zealand

30 September 1902 a member of the public in Westport, New Zealand was found in possession of uncustomed tobacco which he had obtained from a member of the crew. The member of the public was charged £6.00 triple the customs duty evaded in the local Magistrates' Court

11 October 1902 Captain Richard J Carter, the Master, appeared before Wellington Magistrates' Court, New Zealand charged with four breaches of the Shipping and Seaman's Act in that he left four member of the crew at Hong Kong with discharge certificates. He was fined £25 and costs of £3.17sh

20 December 1902 sailed Westport, New Zealand for Homg Kong

14 February 1903 berthed at Brisbane, Australia to replenish bunkers while on passage from Hong Kong to New Zealand to load cargo

5 March 1903 sailed Westport, New Zealand to Hong Kong with 3,000 tons of coal

4 May 1903 at the Magistrates' Court at Westport two Chinese crew members were fined £25 and £3 15sh respectively in default 6 months imprisonment for being in possession and attempting to sell uncustomed tobacco, cigars and cigarettes

4 June 1903 the Commodore and Superintending Transport Officer at Hong Kong certified that the ship with her Master - Captain John S McGregor - at this date in His Majesty's service were fit in all respects for the service on which she was employed and complete, according to her Charter party and the Transport Regulationsin hull, spars, stores, machinery, boilers and crew and that the Master has, since the date of the last certificate, conducted himself properly, been obedient to command, and complied with the Regulations and Instructions furnished for his guidance, with the exception that the ship was delayed 1½ days at Hong Kong after sailing orders had been given for her to proceed to Wei-Hai-Wei owing to the ship being under arrest. This 1½ days arrest was due to the process of law over a debt owed to a private firm for repairs to the ship. The Admiralty advised the owners that they would deduct one days hire - £81-11-6d in the sum they paid the owners for the hire of the vessel 

10 June 1903 arrived at Hong Kong

28 July 1903 berthed at Westport, New Zealand from Hong Kong

9 August 1903 sailed Wellington, New Zealand

26 October 1903 while on passage from Hong Kong to Westport, New Zealand passed Goode Island this day

January 1904 vessel detained at Westport by the authorites for over one month - reason not known

31 January 1904 sailed Westport, New Zealand for Hong Kong

19 May 1904 passed Thursday Island while on passage to Hong Kong from New Zealand

31 May 1904 berthed at Hong Kong from New Zealand laden with 7,000 tons of coal to be discharged at Kowloon for the Admiralty - information from the China Mail

3 December 1904 sailed Hong Kong

7 January 1905 sailed Wellington for Westport

25 February 1905 sailed from Wei hai Wei for Hong Kong

1 June 1905 at Mirs Bay with HMS HOGUE - information from The Straits Times

14 July 1905 arrived at Hong Kong

27 November 1905 arrived at Hong Kong from Wei Hai Wei

1906 chartered by the Admiralty for £23,336 for service as an MFA based on the China Station

23 May 1906 sailed from Woosung with the British China Squadron on its annual cruise ending at Wei Hai Wei on 17 August 1906

6 January 1907 berthed at Singapore from Hong Kong with coal for the British China Squadron  - Captain John S McGregor was Master

10 January 1907 at the Civil Hospital, Hong Kong 3rd Officer Alfred Williams discharged dead - natural causes

16 January 1907 at Singapore Roads HMS ENCOUNTER alongside for coaling

HMAS Encounter

HMS ENCOUNTER

6 April 1907 sailed Hong Kong

April 1907 grounded at the entrance to Yokohama - refloated on 24 April 1907 undamaged

Copy of Press report The Times 1907

Press report The Times 1907

20 October 1907 charter expired but was extended until 19/01/08

1908 purchased by the Admiralty for £37,250. She was based at Devonport, basically on coal freighting duties between Bristol, the Channel Area and Portland

RFA Mercedes IWM

RFA Mercedes
© IWM FL22460

26 July 1908 at 16.05N 17.50W Fireman Kwi Pang discharged dead - natural causes. Buried at sea

14 August 1908 at T Pier, Woolwich Arsenal Fireman Tong Chong discharged dead - angina

18 August 1908 the Daily News newspaper reported ....

Press report Daily News 18 Aug 08

24 August 1908 entered the Channel Dry Dock at Cardiff

29 January 1909 entered Queen Alexandra Dock, Cardiff

27 April 1909 at Portsmouth Harbour while berthed alongside the floating coal depot C1 and discharging part of her coal cargo into the C1 when a loaded coal bucket was being hoised from the ships hold the contents emptied onto the deck of the C1 coal depot. A coal labourer Tom Albert from Portsea was struck by large lumps of coal. He was transferred to the Royal Naval Hospital at Haslar for treatment of head injuries but died

24 May 1909 berthed on North Slip Jetty, Portsmouth

22 July 1909 berthed in No: 5 basin, Portsmouth Dockyard

28 August 1909 anchored at Spithead

10 September 1909 berthed on North Railway Jetty, Portsmouth Harbour

16 September 1909 at Barry Dock Able Seaman Charles Thomas Brimming discharged dead having fallen into No: 1 hold and suffered head injuries. Taken to the town's hospital but died

9 October 1909 arrived at Portsmouth Harbour from sea

13 October 1909 moored on to No: 4 buoy at Portsmouth Harbour

4 November 1909 moored on No: 6 buoy at Portsmouth Harbour

23 November 1909 moored on No: 5 buoy at Portsmouth Harbour

17 March 1910 arrangements were made for the Crew to be paid weekly instead of monthly and the Master was instructed to cater into the bond for the safe custody of the money

6 June 1910 The Western Morning News reported that

Press Cutting 6 6 1910 West Morn NEWS

September 1910 fitted with a modified Metcalfe Rig ex TORRIDGE, a steam collier chartered from the Torridge Steamship Co Ltd (W.J. Tatem & Co, Managers) Cardiff which operated  under Admiralty Orders as a Mercantile Fleet Auxiliary, for coaling-at-sea  experiments

6 September 1910 berthed at Portsmouth Harbour

8 September 1910 berthed on the C1 coal lighter

28 September 1910 passed the Lloyds Signal Station on the Lizard sailing east

28 October 1910 the Barry Dock News reported -

Barry Dock News 1910

14 November 1910 berthed on South Railway Jetty, Portsmouth Harbour

17 November 1910 anchored in Stokes Bay

9 December 1910 berthed on South Railway Jetty

28 December 1910 berthed on the C1 coal lighter

31 December 1910 berthed on Fountain Jetty, Portsmouth Harbour

11 March 1911 moored on No: 4 buoy, Portsmouth Harbour

13 March 1911 entered No: 13 dry dock Portsmouth Harbour for refit

26 March 1911 passed Prawle Point

30 March 1911 moored to No: 15 buoy, Portsmouth Harbour

31 March 1911 berthed on the C1 coal lighter

20 June 1911 passed St Catherines Point sailing west when on passage from Portsmouth to Cardiff

24 June 1911 passed the Lloyds Signal STation on the Lizard sailing east

27 July 1911 at Barry Docks loaded but unable to sail because of industrial action by dockers

2 October 1911 her Master queried whether or not he could issue railway passes to men proceeding on leave but was informed that arrangements with the Railway Companies did not permit this

8 January 1912 berthed alongside HMS ORION to supply bunker coal at Portsmouth Harbour

29 February 1912 berthed in the Tidal Basin, Portsmouth Harbour

1912 conducted inconclusive coaling-at-sea trials with the battleship HMS DOMINION

HMS Dominion

HMS DOMINION

28 May 1912 arrived at Portsmouth Harbour and berthed alongside Coaling Depot No: 1

8 June 1912 sailed Portsmouth Harbour

20 June 1912 arrived at Portsmouth Harbour

21 June 1912 sailed Portsmouth Harbour

6 July 1912 at Portsmouth moved alongside Coaling Depot No: 1

22 July 1912 at Portsmouth Harbour on Mo: 4 buoy

12 August 1912 at Portsmouth alongside HMS HINDUSTAN

5 September 1912 sailed Portsmouth Harbour

21 September 1912 at Portsmouth Harbour berthed on No: 1 Coaling Jetty

30 September 1912 arrived at Portsmouth Harbour

7 November 1912 sailed Portsmouth Harbour to Spithead

3 December 1912 sailed Portsmouth Harbour to Spithead

12 December 1912 arrived Portsmouth Harbour

23 December 1912 arrived at Portsmouth Harbour

6 January 1913 moved berths at Portsmouth Harbour to South Railway Jetty

14 January 1913 arrived at Portmouth Harbour

21 January 1913 berthed on No: 4 Buoy, Portsmouth Harbour

April 1913 was fitted with W/T

11 April 1913 sailed Portsmouth Harbour to Spithead

16 May 1913 arrived at Portsmouth sailing later in the day to Spithead

19 May 1913 sailed Portsmouth

14 June 1913 arrived at Portsmouth Harbour

7 August 1913 at Roath Basin, Cardiff Ordinary Seaman James Hackett discharged dead - having drowned

18 August 1913 moved berths at Portsmouth Harbour to South Railway Jetty

September 1913 Captain John E Edwards RFA (Commander RD RNR) was Master

17 November 1913 at Portsmouth Harbour berthed on No: 1 Coaling Jetty

3 December 1913 sailed Portsmouth Harbour to Spithead

2 January 1914 arrived Portsmouth Harbour

5 January 1914 moved berth to No: 1 Coaling Jetty, Portsmouth Harbour

8 January 1914 moved berth in Portsmouth Harbour to Gosport Oil Fuel Jetty

14 January 1914 at Portsmouth Dockyard moved to No 1 Coaling Depot

19 January 1914 sailed Portsmouth Harbour to Spithead

12 March 1914 berthed at Penarth Docks

12 April 1914 at Portsmouth Harbour berthed on the North Slip Jetty

17 April 1914 at Portsmouth Dockyard moved to No 1 Coaling Depot

30 April 1914 at Portsmouth Harbour moved berths to North Railway Jetty

1 May 1915 at Portsmouth Dockyard moved to No 1 Coaling Depot

June 1914 sailed to Birka Sound in the Baltic with part of the Grand Fleet.

14 June 1914 arrived at Kronstadt. Her crew were entertained by Russians. She then returned to the U.K. to take part in a Naval Review

12 July 1914 arrived Portsmouth Harbour

3 November 1914 at Cromarty Firth with HMS DRYAD alongside loading 55 tons of bunker coal

HMS Dryad 1893

HMS DRYAD

1 January 1915 at Longhope. Captain John E Edwards RFA was still the ships Master until 16 June 1915

15 January 1915 Stoker Frederick James Strickland discharged dead from a fractured base of the skull. He is buried in Osmondwall Cemetery, Island of Hoy

 

Strickland_F

Courtesy and © of The War Graves Photographic Project

22 January 1915 at Cardiff

1 February 1915 Mr F S Davis RFA appointed as Chief Engineer Officer. He had previously served on RFA BURMA

20 February 1915 at Cardiff Second Steward Alfred Steere and Greaser W Regan both logged as having deserted

Alfred Steere

Second Steward Alfred Steere

23 April 1915 at Barry

1915 during a refit at Cardiff, ballast tanks were fitted for carrying fuel oil and she then proceeded  to Loch Ewe where she acted as W/T ship

15 June 1915 Lieutenant James D Ashworth RNR appointed in command

Capt J D Ashworth

Lieutenant James D Ashworth RNR

30 June 1915 at Longhope, Orkneys

24 July 1915 and 25 July 1915 at Scapa Flow with HMS ACACIA alongside loading 300 bags of coal as bunkers

HMS Acacia IWM

HMS ACACIA
source IWM

20 August 1915 and 21 August 1915 at Scapa Flow with HMS ACACIA alongside loading coal as bunkers

7 October 1915 at Longhope HMS TENBY CASTLE alongside to load 171 tons of bunker coal

9 October 1915 at Longhope HMS TENBY CASTLE cast off

11 November 1915 at Scapa Flow with HMS ACACIA alongside loading coal as bunkers

18 November 1915 at Scapa Flow with HMS ACACIA alongside loading  coal as bunkers

14 November 1916 Engineer Lieutenant Tom Perrett RNR appointed as Chief Engineer Officer. He remained in this appointment until 14 November 1917

19 February 1917 Lieutenant W Watson RNR appointed in command until 18 December 1917

6 October 1917 Stoker J Stanley logged as deserted. He had signed on on the 15 July 1917 also Stoker James Murphy logged as deserted. He had signed on on 6 September 1916

October 1917 docked at Birkenhead to discharge mercantile ratings then proceeded to Cardiff to be handed over to commercial managers

30 November 1917 deployed as a collier until 20 January 1918 under commercial management of H. Rees Jones & Co, Cardiff

21 January 1918 re-deployed as a sugar transport bringing her cargo from Cuba until 13 April 1918

14 April 1918 re-deployed as a collier again

11 July 1918 in convoy from Hampton Road to London suffered engine defects and dropped out of the convoy

14 July 1918 back in convoy but still with engine defects

15 August 1918 re-deployed as an Expeditionary Force Transport D 2618

2 December 1918 Expeditionary Force Transport duties ended

25 September 1919 at Beikos Bay with HMS EMPRESS alongside receiving 190 tons of coal

hms empress

HMS EMPRESS

20 March 1920 at Malta discharging arms and war materials seized by the Army at Constantinople

21 June 1920 berthed at Portsmouth Harbour

28 July 1920 purchased for £27,500 by Harris & Dixon Ltd, London., name unchanged

31 July 1920 sailed Portsmouth Harbour

1921 sold to J.Olavarriaga and registered at Bilbao, Spain and renamed JUAN OLAVARRIAGA

1923 sold to F Sainz & Inchaustegui, same port of registry and renamed IBERIA

1925 sold to F Zugadi y Cia S en C, same port of registry and renamed VIRGEN DE BEGONA

1926 owners became Compania Naviera Euzkera, Bilbao with her previous owners as Managers and renamed EUZKERA.Later that year management was passed to Jesus de Azcarreta, Bilbao

7 September 1928 while on passage from Huelva to Bordeaux broke adrift and went ashore at Quoyrice Bank. 5 tugs failed to get the ship off the Bank and steps were taken to lighten the vessel and she was finally re-floated.

1934 sold to Cia Maritima Elanchove, same port of registry and renamed ELANCHOVE

25 October 1936 foundered in a storm 150 miles off Bilbao while on passage from Bilbao to Cardiff with a cargo of iron-ore, she broke in two. Only one member of the crew was rescued.

Additional information

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