RFA Olynthus (1)

 

Olynthus

 
 
 

Previous name:                           British Star
Subsequent name:                      Pensylvania

Official Number:                          142337

Class:                                        10,000t OL CLASS Tanker

Pennant No:                                Y7.264 / X11

Laid down:                                   20 June 1917
Builder:                                       Swan Hunter & Wigham Richardson, Wallsend as Yard

Launched:                                   14 February 1918

Into Service:                                 March 1918
Out of service:                              1949
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.. 2 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 2 well-built ships, the finances and materials appeared to be short and the 2 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

 

 

20 June 1917 ordered

14 February 1918 launched by Swan Hunter & Wigham Richardson, Wallsend as Yard Nr 1040 named  BRITISH STAR for the Shipping Controller

23 March 1918 completed and placed under management of British Tanker Co, London. Cost   £216,799

26 March 1918 having just sailed in ballast in convoy, she was torpedoed 1 mile east of the Tyne by the German submarine UB-78 (Oberleutnant zur Stoßberg) but managed to return to port for repairs

7 September 1918 re-entered service on completion of repairs

24 November 1918 berthed at Tidewater Oil Docks, New York - Captain Reginald C. Venning in command. Fireman Charles Little discharged dead. Fireman Little was boarding the ship when he fell from the gangway into the harbour and drowned. His body was not recovered - he had signed on the ship on the 24 October 1918

R C Venning NON RFA

Captain Reginald C. Venning

17 December 1918 passed the Lloyds Signal Station on the Lizard sailing east and arrived at Plymouth from New York

20 December 1918 arrived at Gravesend from Plymouth for Purfleet

1 February 1919 berthed at Tideway Oil Docks, New York from Thames Haven - Captain Robert Ross in command

3 February 1919 sailed New York for Lough Swilly

17 February 1919 berthed at Liverpool from New York

21 February 1919 arrived at Manchester from Liverpool

21 March 1919 arrived at Port Arthur, Texas from Manchester

15 April 1919 arrived at Avonmouth from Philadelphia

26 April 1919 sailed Avonmouth for New York and New Orleans

16 May 1919 arrived at New Orleans from Avonmouth

19 May 1919 sailed Port Eade for London

6 June 1919 passed Prawle Point while on passage to London

12 June 1919 passed Flamborough Head sailing north

26 June 1919 sailed from Middlesbrough for Port Arthur, Texas

18 July 1919 arrived at Port Arthur, Texas from the Tees

10 August 1919 sailed Avonmouth

1 January 1920 arrived at Port Arthur, Texas from Belfast

4 January 1920 sailed Port Arthur for Lough Swilly

1920 transferred to Admiralty ownership but remained under commercial management

30 January 1920 arrived at Gibraltar from Port Arthur, Texas

11 February 1920 arrived at Portsmouth Harbour

14 February 1920 sailed Portsmouth Harbour for Port Arthur

8 March 1920 sailed from Port Arthur, Texas for Devonport

27 March 1920 arrived at Sharpness from Port Arthur, Texas

1 April 1920 sailed Sheerness to Puerto Mexico

13 May 1920 passed the Lloyds Signal Station on the Lizard sailing east

21 May 1920 before Hull Police Court Seaman Joe Falls was charged with failing to join the ship which delayed its sailing from Killingholme. The Court fined the prisoner £5 5sh or 36 days imprisonment

22 May 1920 sailed Plymouth for New Orleans

8 June 1920 arrived at New Orleans

27 June 1920 sailed New Orleans for Devonport

12 July 1920 passed the Lloyds Signal Station on the Lizard sailing east

13 July 1920 arrived at Portsmouth Harbour

16 July 1920 sailed from Portsmouth Harbour

2 August 1920 arrived New Orleans from Portsmouth Harbour

30 August 1920 berthed at Sheerness from New Orleans

25 September 1920 sailed London for Port Arthur

16 October 1920 arrived at Port Arthur, Texas from London

19 October 1920 sailed Port Arthur, Texas for Devonport

12 November 1920 passed the Lloyds Signal Station on the Lizard sailing west

8 December 1920 sailed Port Arthur, Texas for Invergordon

26 January 1921 arrived at Port Arthur, Texas from Invergordon

29 January 1921 sailed Port Arthur, Texas for Devonport

18 February 1921 arrived at Plymouth Sound

1 April 1921 sailed Plymouth for Port Arthur, Texas

21 April 1921 arrived at Port Arthur, Texas from Plymouth

23 April 1921 sailed Port Arthur, Texas for Devonport

2 May 1921 arrived on the Clyde from Port Arthur, Texas

12 May 1921 arrived at Portland

4 June 1921 sailed Port Arthur, Texas for Devonport

23 June 1921 passed the Lloyds Signal Station on the Lizard sailing east

24 June 1921 berthed at Portsmouth Harbour from Port Arthur

28 June 1921 passed the Lloyds Signal Station on the Lizard sailing west

27 June 1921 sailed from Portsmouth Harbour

30 August 1921 sailed Port Arthur, Texas for Devonport

29 September 1921 sailed Port Arthur, Texas for the River Clyde

19 January 1922 arrived at Suez from Abadan

6 February 1922 arrived at Glasgow from Abadan

26 March 1922 arrived at Port Arthur, Texas from Plymouth

29 April 1922 arrived at Plymouth from Immingham

13 June 1922 at Port Arthur, Texas

6 July 1922 berthed at Portsmouth Harbour

8 July 1922 sailed from Portsmouth Harbour

10 July 1922 at Southampton

29 July 1922 in radio communication with Lands End Radio

19 August 1922 sailed Port Arthur for Devonport

7 September 1922 berthed at Portsmouth Harbour

9 September 1922 sailed from Portsmouth Harbour

31 October 1922 arrived Plymouth from Abadan

3 November 1922 berthed at Portsmouth Harbour

9 November 1922 sailed from Portsmouth Harbour

11 November 1922 at Glasgow

7 December 1922 passed Perim when on passage from Glasgow to Abadan

1 January 1923 at Suez when on passage from Abadan to Port Said for orders

28 January 1923 arrived at Trinidad

19 February 1923 at Glasgow

28 March 1923 arrived at Colon from the River Clyde

17 May 1923 arrived at San Pedro from Curacao

17 July 1923 sailed Tampico for Gibraltar

27 August 1923 passed St Thomas when on passage to Tampico

1 October 1923 sailed Tampico for Gibraltar

14 December 1923 arrived at Port Said from Curacao

3 January 1924 passed Gibraltar for St Thomas for orders

23 January 1924 arrived at Tampico from Malta

26 January 1924 sailed Tampico for Gibraltar

12 June 1924 at Curacao

28 August 1924 sailed Tuxpan for LEFO

8 December 1924 sailed Beaumont, Texas for Brest and Cherbourg, France

3 February 1925 arrived at Philadelphia from London

20 February 1925 sailed Port Arthur

4 June 1925 sailed New Orleans12

2 August 1925 at Port Arthur, Texas

13 October 1925 passed the Lloyds Signal Station on the Lizard sailing east

7 November 1925 sailed Falmouth

25 November 1925 sailed Aden

14 December 1925 passed Perim

19 December 1925 sailed Swansea

28 December 1925 passed Sagres

27 January 1926 arrived at Colon, Panama from Plymouth

7 September 1927 having arrived from Port Arthur, Texas and while berthing at Pembroke Dock in collision with the Cart Jetty sustaining damage to her stem and causing a leak in the forepeak

24 November 1927 sailed Port Said for Devonport

11 April 1928 at Plymouth

11 June 1928 berthed at Portsmouth Harbour

14 June 1928 sailed from Portsmouth Harbour

27 June 1928 at Tilbury

23 August 1928 at Plymouth

23 April 1930 sailed San Pedro for Wellington, New Zealand

19 May 1930 berthed at Wellington, New Zealand to discharge 8,660 tons FFO. The ships Master was Captain J A Halcrow

22 May 1930 sailed Wellington, New Zealand to San Pedro to load

16 June 1930 sailed San Pedro for Wellington, New Zealand

14 July 1930 berthed at Wellington, New Zealand to discharge 9,000 tons of FFO

18 July 1930 sailed Wellington, New Zealand for San Pedro

7 January 1931 sailed San Pedro for Tocopilla

2 February 1931 sailed Tocopilla for San Pedro

12 June 1931 radioed she was 60 nmiles SE of Lands End when on passage to Aruba

14 June 1931 collided with the sailing barge OLINDA at New Orleans. An Admiralty claim against the owners in U.S. courts failed and the owners requested Admiralty compensation for damage and loss. The ship was deliberately kept out of U.S. ports for a while as a direct result

30 September 1931 the Dundee Evening Telegraph reported the ship was discharging a record cargo of 5,500 tons of crude oil ashore at Dundee Harbour -

British Star at Dundee

28 June 1932 at Las Piedras

16 December 1932 passed Gibraltar for Constantza

10 March 1933 sailed Curacao for Port de Bouc

3 July 1933 sailed Gibraltar for Atreco

24 July 1933 sailed Atreco for Berre

24 October 1933 sailed Cumarebo for Berre

27 August 1935 took on charge an E Dent & Co Marine Chronometer No: 47327 which had been purchased by the Admiralty in March 1898. It had been used on charge HMS Brisk, HMS Sheldrake, HMS Cadmus, HMS Active and HMS Sandwich

5 September 1935 berthed at Portsmouth Harbour

10 September 1935 sailed from Portsmouth Harbour

16 October 1936 berthed at Portsmouth Harbour

20 October 1936 sailed from Portsmouth Harbour

25 January 1937 berthed at Gibraltar from Abadan and Port Said to discharge

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

12 August 1937 berthed at Portsmouth Harbour

14 August 1937 sailed from Portsmouth Harbour

16 August 1937 transferred to Admiralty management and manning as an RFA and renamed OLYNTHUS (1)

August 1937 fitted for defensive armament

23 December 1937 four Norwegian sailors rescued by the Olynthus 15 miles off Malta who had been without food or water for four days from ss Kroprins Olav in a gale

24 December 1937 berthed at Malta

3 June 1938 berthed at Malta from Port Said

6 June 1938 to 28 June 1938 towed BP TARGET from Malta to Bermuda

12 August 1938 Mr Charles J Falconer RFA appointed as Chief Engineer Officer

29 August 1938 Captain Leslie N Hill RFA appointed as Master

12 June 1939 at European General Hospital at Aden Bosun Robert Holst discharged dead from septicaemia. He had entered the hospital on 31 May 1939

10 July 1939 Mr G A Calvert RFA appointed as Chief Engineer Officer

11 August 1939 to 19 August 1939 towed BP TARGET from Gibraltar to the U.K

22 August 1939 berthed at Portsmouth Harbour

3 September 1939 – Mr William S Ritchie RFA appointed as Chief Engineer Officer. The ship was at Portsmouth on the outbreak of WW2

CEO RITCHIE WILLIAM STORMONT

Chief Engineer Officer William S Ritchie RFA

17 September 1939 – sailed from Devonport to join convoy OA.5 which had sailed from Southend on the 15 September 1939

18 September 1939 suffered an engine breakdown in Convoy OA 5  and had to return to Falmouth escorted by a tug

19 September 1939 – joined convoy OA.7 which had sailed from from Southend along with RFA OLIGARCH (2), the convoy dispersed on the 22 September 1939, with RFA Olynthus proceeding to Freetown

November 1939 supported Force G off the River Plate

8 November 1939 in company with HMS EXETER on patrol off the Falkland Islands

HMS Exeter c1939

HMS Exeter

10 November 1939 at Mar del Plata refuelled HMS EXETER - as Olynthus sailed away from the cruiser damage was caused to the starboard side and fittings of the cruiser

13 November 1939 at Mar del Plata alongside HMS EXETER refuelling her

23 November 1939 at San Borombon Bay refuelled the cruiser HMNZS ACHILLES with 904 tons of FFO and victualling stores

26 November 1939 at Mar del Plata alongside HMS EXETER refuelling her with 327 tons of FFO, 28 tons of diesel and naval stores. HMS CUMBERLAND also refuelled alongside

2 December 1939 at 36.02S 56.47W HMS CUMBERLAND berthed alongside to refuel

hms cumberland 2

HMS CUMBERLAND

15 December 1939 refuels HMS AJAX at San Borombon Bay, off the coast of Argentina; HMS CUMBERLAND covers the evolution lest the German Pocket Battleship Admiral Graf Spee should attempt to attack.

18 December 1939 refuels HMNZS ACHILLES off Rouen Bank, the southernmost channel of the River Plate estuary. HMS AJAX and HMS CUMBERLAND cover the evolution. HMS ALAX also refuelled at the same location

22 December 1939 refuelled the cruiser HMS DORSETSHIRE 

30 December 1939 at Rio de Janerio then to Trinidad arriving 15 January 1940

9 February 1940 sailed Trinidad to Rio de la Plata (specially routed) and arriving at Port Stanley, Falkland Islands on 8 March 1940

24 March 1940 sailed Port Stanley, Falkland Islands to Montevideo arriving 29 March 1940

30 March 1940 sailed Montevideo to Trinidad arriving 20 April 1940

11 April 1940 at sea at 00.20S 41.37W Able Seaman George William Hewitt discharged dead from injuries received by falling down No: 4 starboard main cargo tank

12 May 1940 sailed Trinidad to Rio de la Plata and then to Trinidad arriving 14 July 1940

1 August 1940 sailed Trinidad to Bermuda arriving 9 August 1940

17 August 1940 at Royal Naval Dockyard, Bermuda Able Seaman Thomas A Hughes discharged dead - drowned. He was buried in the Royal Naval Cemetery in an unmarked grave

9 September 1940 sailed Bermuda to Trinidad arriving 16 September 1940

2 October 1940 Sailed Bermuda in Convoy BHX 78 with a cargo of FFO

7 October 1940 Joined Convoy HX 78 which had sailed Halifax on 4 October to Liverpool arriving on 18 October

19 October 1940 arrived at the Clyde

24 October 1940 at Greenock

25 October 1940 Captain S Thomas RFA appointed as Master

26 October 1940 Mr John B Russell RFA appointed as Chief Engineer Officer

1 December 1940 sailed Glasgow to anchor at Rothesay Bay

December 1940 allocated to Operation Truck- the proposed occupation of the Atlantic Islands -  along with RFA ORANGELEAF (1)

30 January 1941 undertaking repairs on the River Clyde

24 February 1941 anchored at Tail of Bank with HMAS NESTOR being refuelled alongside

8 May 1941 at Scapa Flow

14 May 1941 at anchor River Clyde

26 May 1941 sailed River Clyde to Trinidad - had to put back for defects, sailed again the same day

21 June 1941 arrived at Trinidad

23 June 1941 Port of Spain, Trinidad engine repairs for 14 days

10 August 1941 sailed Halifax in Convoy HX 144 to Iceland with a cargo of FFO arriving on 30 August 1941

31 August 1941 sailed Bowling to the River Clyde 

2 October 1941 sailed the Clyde and joined Convoy ON 22 which had sailed Liverpool the same day and which dispersed on 15 October 1941 - then independently to Curacao

28 October 1941 sailed Curacao to Freetown arriving 5 November 1941

26 November 1941 sailed Freetown to Mobile arriving 19 December 1941

19 December 1941 until 15 January 1942 at Mobile in refit

17 January 1942 sailed Mobile to Curacao arriving 23 January 1942

26 January 1942 sailed Curacao to Freetown arriving 12 February 1942

25 February 1942 sailed Freetown to Trinidad arriving 9 March 1942

17 March 1942 to 25 March 1942 at Trindad for engine and deck repairs

2 April 1942 sailed Trinidad to Table Bay, Cape Town, South Africa

23 July 1942 at the Seychelles with HMAS NIZAM alongside being refuelled

22 October 1942 Captain Thomas C Robinson RFA (Lieutenant Commander RN (retd)) appointed as Master and Mr James Paton RFA appointed as Chief Engineer Officer

13 January 1943 until  6 May 1943 in port at Bombay under repair

12 February 1943 sailed the Seychelles independently to Bombay arriving 23 February 1943

12 May 1943 sailed Bombay independently to Abadan arriving on 19 May 1943

24 May 1943 sailed Abadan independently to Bahrein arriving the same day

25 May 1943 sailed Bandar Abbas in Convoy PA 39 to Aden arriving 2 June 1943 and then independently to Mombassa arriving 7 June 1943

15 June 1943 sailed Mombassa independently to Abadan arriving 28 June 1943

3 July 1943 sailed Abadan independently to Bandar Abbas arriving 6 July 1943

6 July 1943 sailed Khasab Bay in Convoy PB 47 to Bombay arriving 12 July 1943 and then independently to Kilindini arriving on 22 July 1943

3 August 1943 sailed Mombassa independently to Diego Suarez arriving 8 August 1943

13 January 1944 sailed Diego Suarez independently to Mauritius arriving on 17 January 1944

19 January 1944 in collision with the armed merchant cruiser HMS CANTON

31 January 1944 in collision with the cruiser HMS NEWCASTLE

13 February 1944 sailed Mauritius independently to Diego Suarez arriving on 18 February 1944

24 September 1944 Mr Frederick O Brims RFA appointed as Chief Engineer Officer until 19 July 1945

13 December 1944 at Diego Suarez refuelled HMS PALADIN and HMAS NORMAN

13 February 1945 Captain Edward M Rae DSC RFA appointed as Master

Captain Edward M Rae

Captain Edward M Rae DSC RFA

12 June 1945 sailed Diego Suarez independently to Bombay arriving on 21 June 1945

26 July 1945 Acting Captain F A Hobart RFA appointed as Master

16 October 1945 in collision with LST 3028 whilst it was coming alongside at Bombay

15 November 1945 Captain E M Rae RFA reappointed as Master

20 December 1945 sailed Bombay to Colombo arriving 25 December 1945

25 December 1945 sailed Colombo to Singapore arriving 1 January 1946

16 March 1946 at Singapore changed the Indian crew for a Singapore Chinese crew

20 October 1946 Acting Captain E Owen RFA appointed as Master

16 May 1947 transferred to the MoT for disposal at Singapore

1947 purchased by Esco Shipping & Trading Co Ltd (Japp, Hatch & Co, Managers)  London name unchanged

4 July 1947 Captain A Baxter appointed as Master

24 July 1947 sailed Singapore to Abadan arriving 14 August 1947

16 August 1947 sailed Abadan to Aden

29 August 1947 sailed Aden to Port Said

6 September 1947 sailed Port Said, passing Gibraltar 16 September 1947 to Avonmouth arriving 22 September 1947

28 September 1947 sailed Avonmouth to Cardiff arriving the next day

29 September 1947 to 7 December 1947 in refit at Cardiff

7 December 1947 sailed Cardiff to St. Johns Newfoundland arriving 22 December 1947

8 January 1948 sailed St. Johns, Newfoundland to New York arriving 14 January 1948

17 January 1948 sailed New York to Southampton arriving 3 February 1948

10 February 1948 sailed Southampton to Rotterdam arriving 12 February 1948

20 March 1948 sailed Rotterdam to Curacao arriving 14 April 1948

17 april 1948 sailed Curacao to Santos arriving 6 May 1948

10 May 1948 sailed Santos to Curacao

3 June 1948 sailed Curacao

28 June 1948 sailed Bermuda

1949 purchased for £65,000 by Ditta Luigi Pittaluga Vapori, Genoa and renamed PENSILVANIA

April 1960 arrived Savona for breaking up

 

Notes:

 

1. At the Battle of the River Plate, a signal was supposedly sent to her which said:” If the GRAF SPEE comes your way, let her through”

 

RFA Olynthus (2)

Olynthus 1964 

Reproduced with permission of the MOD

 

For details of this ship please go to RFA Olwen (2)

 

Additional information

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