RFA Salvestor



Previous name:                         Assistance

Official Number:                        168731                                                                           

Class:                                       KING SALVOR ClassOcean Salvage Ship

Pennant No:                             W176 / B442 / A499

Laid down:                               20 September 1941

Builder:                                     Simons, Renfrew
Launched:                                28 August 1942
Into Service:                             30 September 1942

Out of service:                          1970
Fate:                                        Broken Up


Items of historic interest involving this ship: -


Background Data: There were originally 13 ships in this Admiralty-designed Class, 12 of which saw service as RFA’s. The final unit in the Class was completed as a Submarine Rescue Vessel under the White Ensign. All were basically similar and were used as Ocean Salvage Ships. They had a complement of 72 and during wartime were armed with 4 x 20 mm AA guns.


20 September 1941 laid down as Assistance

April 1942 renamed Salvestor

28 August 1942 launched by Wm Simons & Co Ltd, Renfrew as Yard Nr 753

30 September 1942 completed

26 November 1942 sailed the Clyde in convoy KMS 4G for Gibraltar arriving on 8 December 1942

24 December 1942 sailed Gibraltar in convoy KMS 5G for Bone arriving on 27 December 1942

28 December 1942 at the Bay of Algiers with USS Thomas Stone which was aground - ships anchors too light to hold the US vessel

USS Thomas Stone

USS Thomas Stone

January 1943 towed the torpedoed anti aircraft cruiser USS Pozarica into Bougie for repairs

28 March 1943 arrived at Oran from Algiers - ships in the harbour subjected to an air attack by 4 enemy aircraft

1 April 1943 at Oran salvaging the ss City of Perth

2 July 1943 joined Convoy KMS 17 (Gibraltar - Sfax)  for the Algiers to Malta leg arriving 6 July 1943 the convoy included RFA ABBEYDALE, RFA ORANGELEAF (1), RFA PRESTOL and HMS SALVEDA

29 August 1943 joined Convoy MKS 23 (Alexandria to Gibraltar) for the Algiers to Malta leg which also contained RFA DERWENTDALE (1) and HMS SALVEDA

11 January 1944 joined Convoy KMS 37 (Gibraltar to Port Said) for the Algiers to Augusta leg

6 May 1944 C-in-C Med requested that she be manned by the SANF

5 June 1944 Radio Officer Allen G Boyd RFA discharged dead. He is buried in the Naples War Cemetery



Courtesy and © of The War Graves Photographic Project


31 August 1944 commissioned at Naples under South African Navy control under the command to Lieutenant Commander Thomas F. O'Brien SAN

14 September 1944 sailed for Algiers and returned with salvaged stores

13 October 1944 sailed Bagnoli, Augusta and Taranto

17 October 1944 sailed to salvage HMS LARNE which was mined off the Island of Poros and which had been badly damaged the previous day during Operation Edgehill. HMS LARNE was towed into Poros Bay, East Coast of Greece



The damaged HMS Larne with RFA Salvestor astern of her
Image used with permission of Jim McFaul

24 October 1944 sailed Taranto in convoy HP1 for Piraeus arriving 27 October 1944

27 October 1944 arrived Piraeus to carry out salvage work

30 January 1945 arrived Alexandria for refit

24 March 1945 sailed Alexandria for Aden

3 April 1945 sailed Aden for Kilindini. ETA Kilindini 11 April 1945

17 April 1945 arrived Durban enroute to join the British Eastern Fleet

21 April 1945 sailed Durban via Port Louis and Colombo to Trincomalee

12 April 1945 arrived Trincomalee and afterwards sailed to Australia

19 June 1945 sailed Darwin, Australia towing AFD 18 to Milne Bay, New Guinea arriving on the 8 July 1945 assisted by the Royal Australian Naval tug HEROS and escorted by HMAS GOULBOURN and HMAS TAMWORTH.  On arrival engaged in repairing damage to the AFD which had been caused by bad weather



An AFD as the same class as AFD18

8 August 1945 went to the assistance of a merchant ship in difficulties more than 200 km from Milne Bay.

11 August 1945 brought the merchant ship into port

August 1945 at Manus the crew played hockey against HMAS TAMWORTH

13 August 1945 with RFA SALVICTOR towing AFD 18 to Manus Naval Base, Admiralty Islands

19 August 1945 arrived with RFA SALVICTOR and AFD 18 at Manus Naval Base, Admiralty Islands

28 August 1945 at Manus Naval Base with HMAS PIRIE berthed alongside

30 August 1945 sailed Manus Naval Base, Admiralty Islands for Hong Kong 

9 September 1945 arrived at Hong Kong where she salvaged a Japanese tug and carried out a number of other salvage tasks

2 December 1946 the ships company made a donation of £56 to Legacy House Appeal, Sydney, NSW Australia - a charity providing support to War widows in Australia

1946 returned to the Admiralty and received the Battle Honour "Pacific 1942-45" the only SAN ship to receive the honour

30 August 1946 offered for charter by the Admiralty to private salavage companies

7 June 1948 sailed from Portsmouth Harbour

24 September 1948 the Hampshire Telegraph reported -


Hampshire Telegraph 24 9 1948 SALVENTURE


1 September 1950 sailed from Portsmouth Harbour

20 November 1956 used to clear Port Said harbour after the Suez Crisis with RFA SEA SALVOUR and RFA UPLIFTER

Sea Salvor at suez

16 December 1956 while salvaging a bucket dredger in the Suez Canal came under small arms fire

September 1959 laid up at Pembroke Dock

August 1969 on the disposal list at Pembroke Dock

July 1970 broken Up at Briton Ferry, Wales by T.W. Ward Ltd.



  1. Served in the British Pacific Fleet - hence the B pennant number

Additional information

Copyright © 2008 – 2017 Christopher J White

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website, by continuing to use the site you agree to cookies being used. More info.