Previous name:                       British Beacon     
Subsequent name:

Official Number:                      142670

Class:                                     10,000t OL CLASS Tanker

Pennant No:                            Y7.304 /  X18

Laid down:
Builder:                                    Workman Clark & Co Ltd, Belfast
Launched:                                9 September 1918
Into Service:                             9 October 1918
Out of service:                          April 1953
Fate:                                         Broken up


Items of historic interest involving this ship: -


Background Data:   Of the six ships in this Class, two of them were built by HM Dockyards to keep the Dockyards busy after the end of WW1 in accordance with the Colwyn Committee‘s recommendations. Two other similar ships were built for Anglo Saxon Petroleum Co Ltd, London at the same time - MUREX at Portsmouth and NASSA at Devonport - and after producing these two well-built ships, the finances and materials appeared to be short and the two built for the RFA were supposedly built with odds and ends and auxiliaries taken from outmoded warships. With their cheap and second-hand fittings they had some heavy maintenance bills, which they paid for by spending most of their lives on charter. MUREX and NASSA were both broken up at Osaka in 1936


9 September 1918 launched by Workman Clark & Co Ltd, Belfast as Yard Nr: 425 named BRITISH  BEACON for the Shipping Controller

9 October 1918 completed and placed under management of British Tanker Co, London. Cost £246,108

6 December 1918 arrived at Thames Haven from Philadelphia

1919 transferred to Admiralty ownership but remained under commercial management

12 January 1919 sailed Philadelphia for Falmouth

23 February 1919 arrived at Philadelphia from Falmouth

27 February 1919 sailed Philadelphia for Falmouth

16 March 1919 berthed at Hull after arriving from Philadelphia

10 June 1919 arrived at Philadelphia from London

3 August 1919 berthed at Rangoon from Philadelphia via Alexandria

13 August 1919 sailed Rangoon for Suez

31 October 1919 arrived at Port Arthur, Texas from London

2 November 1919 sailed from Port Arthur, Texas for Falmouth

4 March 1920 passed Sand Key, Florida

8 March 1920 berthed at Port Arthur, Texas from the River Tyne

12 March 1920 sailed Port Arthur, Texas for Devonport

19 May 1920 berthed at Port Eads from Devonport. RFA WAR HINDOO berthed at the same port on the same day but from Portsmouth

4 May 1920 arrived New Orleans from Port Victoria

7 June 1920 arrived at Glasgow from New Orleans

6 July 1920 sailed Belfast Lough for Tampico

18 August 1920 berthed at Portsmouth Harbour after arriving from Tampico

3 September 1920 sailed Portsmouth Harbour

4 October 1920 arrived at Bermuda from Tampico

19 November 1920 berthed at Killingholme

23 November 1920 at Hull Seaman Richard Star of Hull appeared before the Magistrates' Court charged with desertion - he was fined £5 or 30 days imprisonment

23 December 1920 sailed Port Arthur, Texas for the Clyde

15 April 1921 sailed Port Arthur, Texas to the Clyde

2 May 1921 arrived at the Clyde from Port Arthur

9 May 1921 sailed Glasgow for Port Arthur

2 June 1921 radioed US Naval Radio Station she was 10 miles NE of St Augustine

17 June 1921 while on passage for Sheerness passed Dover

22 June 1921 arrived at Sheerness from Abadan via Gibraltar

4 July 1921 arrived at Port Said when on passage from Sheerness for Abadan

15 September 1921 arrived at Suez from Abadan

18 September 1921 sailed Port Said for Malta

3 October 1921 arrived Port Said from Malta

31 October 1921 arrived at Suez

7 November 1921 damaged the battle cruiser HMS RENOWN at Suez

12 November 1921 sailed Suez for Abadan

13 December 1921 arrived at Suez from Abadan

31 December 1921 at Avonmouth awaiting dry docking

11 January 1922 still at Avonmouth undergoing repairs

1 February 1922 berthed at Portsmouth Harbour from Avonmouth

4 February 1922 sailed Portsmouth Harbour for Abadan

25 May 1922 arrived at Plymouth from Hull

13 August 1922 arrived at Port Said from Gibraltar when on passage to Abadan

28 November 1922 arrived Plymouth for Abadan

30 December 1922 sailed Plymouth for Abadan

3 January 1923 when on passage from Plymouth for Abadan passed Gibraltar this day

11 January 1923 arrived Port Said

24 January 1923 arrived at Abadan from Plymouth

25 March 1923 sailed Port Said for Gibraltar

17 August 1923 called at Aden from Port Said

28 August 1923 arrived at Abadan from Alexandria

27 September 1923 sailed Abadan for Port Said

7 October 1923 passed Perim

6 November 1923 berthed at Singapore from Abadan

22 December 1923 sailed from the Oil Wharf, Singapore

27 February 1924 sailed Abadan for Sydney, NSW

5 March 1924 sailed Colombo, Ceylon

27 March 1924 berthed Sydney, NSW moored to the Admiralty buoys off Garden Island

9 April 1924 while still moored to the Admiralty buoys (above) HMS DUNEDIN and HMS DRAGON berthed alongside her to be refuelled

11 April 1924 at Sydney, NSW alongside HMS REPULSE to refuel her

12 April 1924 0800 at Sydney, NSW alongside HMS HOOD to refuel her with 2,894 tons of FFO.  Cast off at 1930hrs to No: 18 buoy

25 April 1924 sailed Sydney, NSW to Balik Papan, Borneo to load and then to Vancouver, BC, Canada

28 June 1924 at Vancouver, BC, Canada alongside HMS REPULSE to refuel her

9 July 1924 at San Francisco, USA alongside HMS REPULSE to refuel her

4 November 1924 at Ross Memorial Hospital, Dingwall Greaser William Arthur Evans discharged dead with a skull injury

26 December 1924 at Port Stanley Harbour Able Seaman Benjamin Jackson discharged dead - drowned. He was buried in Stanley Cemetery, Falkland Islands in grave J913

3 January 1925 sailed Port Stanley, Falkland Islands for Trinidad

23 January 1925 at Trinidad

14 May 1925 at 37.25N 29.35W Chief Steward Robert Fraser discharged dead from natural causes

31 July 1925 at Tampico

2 August 1927 sailed Grangemouth in ballast for Chatham

4 August 1927 while on passage from Grangemouth to Chatham at 55.03N 1.13W Greaser Guiseppe Bugeya was discharged dead - alleged that he was struck on head with a spanner by Fireman Frederick J Tait

Press Cutting 6 Aug 1927 Dundee Courier

Press Cutting from the Dundee Courier of 6 August 1927

13 August 1927 before the South Shields Police Court the Bench sat hearing committal proceedings for a charge of murder against Frederick Tait. The Bench, without retiring, dismissed the charge of murder but committed Tait for trial at the Assizes on a charge of manslaughter

1 July 1929 sailed Curacao to Shell Haven with Captain Ernest E Anderson as Master with two DBS passengers


Captain Ernest E Anderson

26 October 1929 berthed at Portsmouth Harbour

17 November 1929 sailed from Portsmouth Harbour

23 June 1930 passed Beachy Head while on passage to Devonport

2 August 1930 sailed Plymouth for Abadan

24 September 1930 berthed at Portsmouth Harbour

1 November 1930 sailed from Portsmouth Harbour

30 November 1930 sailed Abadan for Devonport

8 December 1930 passed Perim while on passage to Devonport

27 December 1930 arrived at Devonport from Abadan

23 May 1931 berthed at King George Wharf, Dundee as the first ocean going tanker to arrive at the port with 4,600 tons cargo of crude oil she had loaded at Trinidad. She had already discharged 5,000 tons of her cargo at Rosyth

25 May 1931 the Dundee Courier & Advertiser published -

British Beacon at Dundee

27 May 1931 sailed Dundee for Paraguana

10 June 1931 was 400 nmiles west of Valentia when on passage to Paraguana

18 August 1931 passed Perim for Abadan

25 April 1932 berthed at Portsmouth Harbour

12 July 1932 sailed from Portsmouth Harbour

12 September 1932 until 22 September 1932 berthed at Simonstown Dockyard, South Africa

19 November 1932 until 9 December 1932 berthed at Simonstown Dockyard, South Africa

21 April 1933 at Chatham

17 November 1933 berthed at Portsmouth Harbour

20 November 1933 sailed from Portsmouth Harbour

19 February 1934 passed Perim for LEFO

26 February 1934 arrived at Suez and transitting the Suez Canal sailed Port Said the same date

9 March 1934 berthed at Grangemouth from Abadan

18 March 1934 arrived River Tyne from Grangemouth

25 March 1934 sailed the River Tyne for Immingham

15 June 1934 until 4 July 1934 berthed at Simonstown Dockyard, South Africa

21 August 1934 berthed at Portsmouth Harbour

23 August 1934 sailed from Portsmouth Harbour

20 November 1934 berthed at Portsmouth Harbour

22 November 1934 sailed from Portsmouth Harbour

26 December 1934 sailed Abadan

8 January 1935 arrived at Suez from Abadan

9 January 1935 sailed Port Said for Devonport

23 January 1935 arrived at Plymouth from Abadan

29 January 1935 sailed Plymouth for Falmouth arriving the same day

5 June 1936 berthed at Portsmouth Harbour

8 June 1936 sailed from Portsmouth Harbour

7 September 1936 berthed at Gibraltar from Abadan and Port Said to discharge

11 November 1936 at Sunderland in refit at T W Greenwell & Co's quay as BRITISH BEACON

11 January 1937 Mr John Atchison RFA appointed as Chief Engineer Officer

12 January 1937 transferred to Admiralty management and manning as an RFA and renamed OLCADES at Rosyth


Dundee Courier 15 Jan 1937

Press report from the Dundee Courier of 15 January 1937


21 February 1937 to 26 February 1937 berthed at Simonstown Dockyard, South Africa

11 March 1937 berthed at Gibraltar from Abadan and Port Said to discharge

November 1937 partly fitted for defensive armament by Mackinnon, Mackenzie & Co at Bombay

21 February 1938 berthed at Simonstown Dockyard, South Africa

26 February 1938 sailed Simonstown Dockyard, South Africa

11 April 1938 to 18 April 1938 towed the gate vessel HMS SANDGATE from Singapore to Trincomalee

7 July 1938 berthed at Singapore

26 October 1938 arrived at the River Tyne and berthed at Wallsend Slipway

28 October 1938 Mr G A Calvert RFA appointed as Chief Engineer Officer

7 November 1938 Captain R H P Meyhew RFA appointed as Master

17 November 1938 defensive armament completed and gun trials carried out

19 November 1938 sailed the River Tyne for Sheerness

10 July 1939 Mr Charles J Falconer RFA appointed as Chief Engineer Officer

3 September 1939 at Portsmouth on the outbreak of WW2

29 December 1939 slightly damaged while fuelling the carrier HMS EAGLE at Mahe in the Seychelles

30 December 1939 sustained damage when fuelling the armed merchant cruiser HMS CATHAY in the Seychelles. Repairs were carried out at Colombo the following  month

24 May 1940 grounded on an uncharted rock in Trincomalee Harbour - slight damage

1 December 1940 docked in the dry dock at Durban

3 December 1940 undocked from the dry dock at Durban

24 February 1941 damaged when going alongside the cruiser HMS GLASGOW

25 February 1941 off Port Louis, Mauritius with HMAS AUSTRALIA alongside being refuelled

7 March 1941 refuelled HMS LEANDER and HMAS CANBERRA both alongside while at anchor at Port Louis, Mauritius. HMS LEANDER received 1,084 tons of FFO and HMAS CANBERRA 1,835 tons of FFO



1 April 1941 at Port Louis, Mauritius with HMAS CANBERRA alongside being refuelled - issued 810 tons of FFO

canberra at sea 1


8 November 1941 at Durban Fireman's Cook Kurok Khan discharged dead - suicide by hanging in a police cell ashore

29 November 1941 docked in the dry dock at Durban

4 December 1941 undocked from the dry dock at Durban

18 December 1941 berthed at Capetown, South Africa

23 December 1941 sailed Capetown for Port Louis, Mauritius - speed of advance 9½ knots

4 January 1942 arrived at Mauritius from the Cape under escort of Armed Merchant Cruiser HMS HECTOR to serve as the station oiler

31 January 1942 at Mauritius

31 March 1942 at Mauritius

11 May 1942 Captain William W Peddle RFA appointed as Master



Captain William W Peddle RFA


29 August 1942 at Mahebourg, Mauritius Oilman Hoossein Kadir discharged dead - natural causes

22 December 1942 damaged by the South African Railways Administration tug T.H. WATERMEYER at Cape Town

28 January 1943 Mr Eric S Fielder RFA appointed as Chief Engineer Officer

1942 to 1943 crankshaft trouble reduced her to a fuelling hulk at Bombay. Her Chief Engineer, ship’s engineers and two fitters from Mazagan repaired the defect, involving handling  weights of 20 tons under tropical conditions and she re-entered full service on completion

27 April 1943 after a refit was allocated as the Base Oiler at Bombay

9 November 1943 at Bombay with HMAS CESSNOCK alongside being refueled



26 January 1944 at Bombay with HMAS CESSNOCK alongside being refueled

3 February, 1944 at Bombay with HMAS BATHURST alongside being refueled

18 February 1944 Mr Thomas H Purvis RFA appointed as Chief Engineer Officer

29 February 1944 at Bombay with HMAS CESSNOCK alongside being refueled

4 March 1944 at Bombay with HMAS BATHURST alongside being refueled

13 July 1944 damaged whilst alongside and fuelling the carrier HMS VICTORIOUS

5 September 1944 at Bombay Anchorage with HMAS GAWLER alongside being refueled

14 August 1945 at Salisbury Island, Durban used as a test load for Admiralty Floating Dock AFD31 which had been completed in a sand berth in Durban Harbour. The load test was carried out at the floating dock berth at the new Naval Base at Salisbury Island

18 October 1945 entered dry dock at Durban

19 November 1945 undocked from the dry dock at Durban

1946 replaced RFA RUTHENIA as jetty and pumping station at Woodlands Naval Tank Storage facility at Singapore until the fuel lines ashore were restored and a new jetty  was built in 1952

1952 after a serious fire at Singapore, was sold to BISCO for demolition

29 October 1952 sailed Singapore in tow of the British tug ENGLISHMAN

23 December 1952 the tug radioed that her tow had broken loose 80 nmiles west of Crete


15 January 1953 while crossing the Bay of Biscay, she broke adrift and again caught fire. After the fire had been extinguished, the tow was reconnected

31 January 1953 again broke adrift during a gale

1 February 1953 ran aground at Barton Gap in Norfolk

 OLCADES aground

15 April 1953 was refloated and continued in tow to Blyth

19 April 1953 arrived at Blyth for breaking up by Hughes Bolckow Shipbreaking Co Ltd.


Additional information

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