There were 6 ships in this Class, 4 of which were conventional commercial tankers, one slightly smaller than the other three, launched for the Shipping Controller towards the end of WW1 and placed under management of the British Tanker Co Ltd, London who used them mainly on commercial work. They were all transferred to Admiralty ownership in 1919/20 but remained with the same names under BTC manning until the Admiralty undertook their manning in 1937 when they were renamed. After this they were employed in filling naval tanks at world-wide bases in company with other RFA freighting tankers.

 

As a result of the Colwyn Committee’s recommendations, in order to keep the Naval Dockyards busy after the end of WW1, further ships were built by them, two of which were acquired by the Admiralty, albeit under commercial management, and another two similar ships were built for commercial owners at the same time - MUREX at Portsmouth and NASSA at Devonport – the latter being the first ship to be built at a Naval Dockyard for a private company.

The two built for the Admiralty were supposedly built with odds and ends and auxiliaries taken from outmoded warships. With their cheap and second-hand fittings, they had some really heavy maintenance bills which they paid for by spending most of their life under charter.

All were single screwed steamers, two of which became WW2 casualties while the remainder had fairly long lives.

The Class, in chronological order, consisted of OLWEN (1), OLIGARCH (2), OLCADES, OLYNTHUS (1), OLNA (1) and OLEANDER (1) .


OLWEN (1):


British Light


Builder: Palmers Shipbuilding & Iron Co Ltd, Jarrow

Launched: 22 October 1917 as BRITISH LIGHT. Completed: 23 December 1917.
Renamed OLWEN (1) on 17 April 1937.

Yard Nr: 878 Official Nr: 140449 Signal letters: GLDR

Tonnages: 6470 grt 3879 nrt 9220 dwt 13690 full load displacement

Dimensions: 419.7 (p.p.) x 54’04” x 26’11¾”

Machinery: Triple expansion 3 cyl by the builders. 586 nhp.

Speed: 10 knots

Pennant Nrs: Y 7.242 / X 09

Battle Honours: None recorded

Fate: Sold commercially 1947 name unchanged. Renamed MUSHTARI in 1949. Arrived Karachi for demolition in October 1959.


OLIGARCH (2):

 

Builder: Workman, Clark & Co Ltd, Belfast.

Launched: 30 June 1918 as BRITISH LANTERN. Completed: 1 August 1918
Renamed OLIGARCH (2) on 4 July 1937

Yard Nr: 424 Official Nr: 142604 Signal Letters: GLDF

Tonnages: 6894 grt 4078 nrt 10730 dwt 15003 full load displacement

Dimensions: 443’06”(o.a.) x 57’00” x 27@02”

Machinery: Triple expansion 3 cyl by the builders. 634 nhp.

Speed: 10 knots

Pennant Nrs: Y.7.286 / X 12

Battle Honours: None recorded

Fate: Was scuttled in deep water at the southern end of Sinai in the Red Sea loaded with obsolete ammunition.


OLCADES:

 

Builder: Workman, Clark & Co Ltd, Belfast.

Launched: 9 September 1918 as BRITISH BEACON. Completed: 9 October 1918
Renamed OLCADES on 12 January 1937

Yard Nr: 425 Official Nr: 142670 Signal Letters: GSBP

Tonnages: 6891 grt 4065 nrt 10730 dwt 15030 full load displacement

Dimensions: 443’06” (o.a.) x 57’00” x27’02”

Machinery: Triple expansion 3 cyl by the builders. 634 nhp.

Speed: 10 knots

Pennant Nrs: Y 7.304  Official Nr: 142670  Signal Letters; GSBP

Battle Honours: None recorded

Fate: Suffered a serious fire at Singapore in 1952. Finally arrived Blyth for demolition by Hughes Bolckow Shipbreaking Co on 19 April 1953.

 

OLYNTHUS (1):

 

Builder: Swan. Hunter & Wigham Richardson, Wallsend.

Launched: 14 February 1918 as BRITISH STAR. Completed: 23 March 1918
Renamed OLYNTHUS (1) on 16 August 1937

Yard Nr: 1040 Official Nr: 142337 Signal Letters: GLDC

Tonnages: 6888 grt 4080 nty 10775 dwt 15003 full load displacement

Dimensions: 444’01” (o.a.) x 57’00” x 27’03¼”

Machinery: Triple expansion 3 cyl by the builders. 620 nhp.

Speed: 10 knots.

Pennant Nrs: Y 7.264 / X 11

Battle Honours: None recorded

Fate: Sold commercially in 1947 name unchanged. Renamed PENSILVANIA in 1949. Arrived Savona for demolition by Italian breakers in April 1960.


OLNA (1):

 

Builder: HM Dockyard, Devonport

Launched: 21 June 1921 Completed: 10 October 1921

Yard Nr: 1 Official Nr: 148149 Signal Letters: GJBN

Tonnages: 7073 grt 4317 nrt ???? dwt 15220 full load displacement

Dimensions: 443’06” (o.a.) x 57’00” x 27’03¼”

Machinery: Triple expansion 3 cyl by the builders. 644 nhp.

Speed: 10 knots

Pennant Nr: X 47

Battle Honours: None recorded

Fate: Bombed by German aircraft at Soudha Bay, Crete and was set on fire and beached nearby where she burnt out on 18 May 1941. Her wreck was found at Scarramanga after the War and was scrapped.


OLEANDER (1):

 

Builder: HM Dockyard, Pembroke Dock.

Launched: 26 April 1922 Completed: 20 October 1922

Yard Nr: 263 Official Nr: 146640 Signal Letters: GBJT

Tonnages: 7048 grt 4270 nrt 10240 dwt 15350 full load displacement

Dimensions: 443’06” (o.a.) x 57’01” x 27’05”

Machinery: Triple expansion 3 cyl by H.M. Dockyard, Chatham. 644 nhp.

Speed: 10 knots

Pennant Nr: X 46

Battle Honours: None recorded

Fate: Was seriously damaged by a near miss by German aircraft in Harstad Bay, Norway whilst in company with the carrier HMS GLORIOUS. She was beached and attempts were made to salvage her cargo but she was officially classed as a constructive total loss on 8 June 1940.

Copyright © 2008 – 2017 Christopher J White

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