Class: KIN CLASS Coastal Salvage Vessel
Pennant No: W06 / A507
Laid down: 13 March 1943
Builder: Smith's Dock, South Bank, Middlesborough
Launched: 29 November 1943
Into Service: 6 April 1944
Out of service: 1977
Fate: Broken up
Items of historic interest involving this ship: -
Background Data: Originally a class of 11 ships was planned but two were cancelled and of the remaining nine, seven saw brief service as RFA’s. They were re-rated as Mooring, Salvage and Boom Vessels in 1971. All were equipped with lifting horns and heavy rollers forward which enabled them to lift 200 tons dead-weight over the bows. In wartime thet were armed with 2 x 20 mm AA guns and had a complement of 34
Uplifter has served at differing times as an Naval Salvage vessel (HMS) and a Royal Fleet Auxiliary Salvage vessel (RFA)
Managed initally by Metal Industries as a merchant navy manned costal salvage vessel.
13 August 1942 ordered
13 March 1943 laid down
29 November 1943 launched by Smith’s Dock Co Ltd, South Bank, Middlesbrough as Yard Nr: 1121 named HMS UPLIFTER
6 April 1944 completed
20 May 1944 arrived in the Thames from Harwich for operation OVERLORD. Given the funnel marking ‘S’ to identify Allied salvage vessels working in the Normandy assault beaches area
Captain Lt Cdr Victor Campbell RNVR. Chief Officer George Norman Elliott MBE. Salvaged 3 HM Ships, 3 Merchant Vessels, a large number of Landing Craft and 3 German TLC MK 111 in Port-en-Bassin harbour.Period includes the gales of 19-21 June which caused some 800 vessels to drift ashore and had to be recovered. Prime Minister Winston Churchill described Port-en-Bassin as ‘a most valuable acquisition’ and it was developed as the main supply port for petrol until the PLUTO pipeline was on stream. Captain appointed an MBE for the ship’s achievements. The citation read ‘the work of the personnel engaged on salvage or repair operations was outstanding and the large number of ships and craft, some seriously damaged, salved and repaired are evidence of the skill, resourcefulness and endeavour of the Officers and men concerned’. Diver Hugh Ross Allan was awarded the British Empire Medal for work at Port-en-Bassin in mined waters. The ship subsequently involved in salvage operations, with two other salvage ships, at the port of Flushing.
21 August 1944 sailed Seine Bay in convoy FTC 74 to Southampton arriving the next day
8 May 1945 Diver Hugh Ross Allan awarded the British Empire Medal for work during Operation Overloard
29 January 1946 arrived at Aberdeen
16 February 1946 at Montrose sands the diesel barge Peterborough Merchant was raised by RFA Uplifter having ran aground with a cargo of zinc while on passage from Greenock to the River Tyne
September 1947 to December 1947 involved in surveying the wreck of the 1897 battleship Bulwark which had been lost in an internal explosion off Sheerness in November 1914.
5 December 1947 rescued the crew of the Tongue Fort in the Thames Estuary after it suffered structural failure
4 March 1948 arrived Kames Bay, near Rothesay, to assist her sister RFA SUCCOUR in refloating the trials cruiser HMS EMERALD which took three months to accomplish
December 1949 in refit at Sheerness
8 November 1950 arrived at Portsmouth and the Portsmouth Evening News reported -
18 April 1951 involved with RFA KINBRACE and RN ships in trying to locate HMS/m AFFRAY
1 May 1952 at Dungeness
18 June 1952 involved with RFA KINBRACE and another tug and succeeded in getting the British steamer Baron Douglas which had run aground near Hastings refloated after a collision with a Yugoslav ship Korenica
ss Baron Douglas
July 1952 in refit at Sheerness
21 August 1952 sent with two tugs to an American Liberty ship 'Western Farmer' (7,239 tons) which was badly holed in a collision with a Norwegian tanker Bjorgholm (11,732 tons) 18 miles ESE of Ramsgate and which broke in half and her bows sank
The after part of the ss Western Farmer
22 August 1952 The Times newspaper reported ...
10 November 1952 along with her sister SUCCOUR she sailed Dover to assist in wreck clearing operations in the New Waterweg, Hook of Holland after the Panamanian freighter FAUSTUS had breached the North Pier there before sinking 3 days earlier and partially blocking the entrance
1 February 1953 in dry dock at Sheerness when water poured into the dock and entered the engine room through several openings and could not be closed. All hands were ordered ashore and as the last man got ashore the brow collapsed. Petty Officer Samuel John Horlick C.JX 154853 from HMS BARSOUND organised a party of five ratings to make Uplifter as watertight as possible. For his efforts the Petty Officer was awarded the British Empire Medal (Military Division) for gallantry.
15 June 1953 took part in the Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Fleet Review at Spithead along with 7 other RFA’s.
30 January 1954 at Portsmouth and recovery work began on LCT 1048 which had been beached in Stokes Bay, off Gosport, during 1949 after which she had been used as a target
1 June 1954 notice was given in the London Gazette that the Admiralty was paying Salvage money to those involved from RFA UPLIFTER and RFA KINBRACE in the salvage of the ss Baron Douglas on the 18 June 1952. Special payments of an additional £25.00 were made to W. Brown and J. Turvey of RFA Uplifter
1 March 1955 assisted in the recovery of RFA EDDYREEF which had flooded at Shotley due to a failed circulation pump.
1955 involved in secret bomb recovery from Orford Ness
July 1955 a Bosun and two men with a boat from UPLIFTER allocated to accompany the American swimmer Florence Chadwick during an attempted non-stop swim across the English Channel and return.
July 1955 placed in reserve at Chatham Dockyard.
12 November 1956 commissioned at Chatham for service during Operation Musketeer - the Suez Crisis - which also involved 34 other RFA‘s
10 December 1956 arrived Port Said to assist in wreck clearance operations. RFA’s SALVESTOR and SEA SALVOR were also engaged in this task
18 December 1956 raised the hopper Neptune at Port Said
25 January 1957 berthed at Malta together with RFA DISPENSER
9 February 1957 at Gozo together with the harbour tug Tanac refloated the Malta Gozo Ferry Bancinu after she broke adrift from moorings in Mgarr harbour during the night of 23 January 1957. The Bancinu was holed for'ard and pumps had to be used to keep her afloat
The Malta to Gozo ferry Bancinu on the rocks in Gozo Garbour with HMS Uplifter (just visible) salvaging her
HMS Uplifter in Valetta Harbour with the salvaged ferry Bancinu alongside
images both courtesy of David Witchalls
7 March 1957 returned to Chatham and reserve at Sheerness
February 1959 underwent refit and preservation at Sheerness
1959 in reserve at Pembroke Dock.
6 May 1963 Admiralty Board approval was obtained to convert her and her sisters KINBRACE and KINGARTH into Salvage, Mooring and Boom Vessels
6 June 1964 arrived Liverpool to transfer her redundant boiler to her sister DISPENSER
19 June 1964 boiler removed and installed in her sister
7 July 1964 was towed back to Pembroke Dock to await conversion
2 June 1966 arrived at St Andrews Dock, Hull
16 June 1966 conversion began to re-engine her by St Andrews Engineering at Hull with 1 x British Polar Atlas diesel engine. 630 bhp. 9 knots. Single screw
17 May 1967 conversion completed at a cost of £173,400
27 June 1967 was accepted after conversion and was now in grey livery
24 March 1968 Aer Lingus Vickers Vicount EI-AOM crashed off County Wexford near the Tuskar Rock Lighthouse. Sixty one passengers and crew of the aircraft were killed.
30 March 1968 at Milford Haven put on notice to sail to the scene of the aircrash to join various RN units including the deep diving vessel HMS RECLAIM
20 May 1968 arrived on scene with divers to replace HMS CLARBESTON
29 May 1968 returned to Milford Haven
13 June 1968 back on scene preparing moorings and positioning of HMS RECLAIM
16 June 1968 provided assistance to HMS RECLAIM
21 June 1968 landed some of the recovered wreckage
22 June 1968 left from the scene having been stood down operations – the tides were too strong
14 July 1968 with HMS RECLAIM and HMS SHOULTON returned to the search area
23 July 1968 off loaded wreckage recovered during previous 10 days – 2.5 tons approx. mostly engines at Rosslare Harbour
24 July 1968 stood down again due to strong tides
13 August 1968 returned to the search area with HMS RECLAIM with Irish ship CLIONA
20 August 1968 decision taken by C in C Plymouth to withdrawl from the scene on 21 August 1968. UPLIFTER required to recover all moorings before departure
21 August 1968 to Milford Haven
29 August 1968 lifted all moorings and anchors, leaving area clear. Irish shipping continued the search for wreckage through September and ended on 4 October 1968.
1970 transferred to RMAS
31 July 1977 to Rosyth
5 to the 10 May 1979 used to ascertain clearance over the wreck of HMS NATAL in Nigg Bay, the Cromarty Firth which sank after an internal explosion on 30 December 1915
1985 in reserve and put up for disposal
September 1985 was used as a bombing target off Fraserburgh during which she was holed after grounding on an old target and was taken back to Rosyth for lay-up pending disposal..
27 June 1986 sold for demolition by Jas A. White at Inverkeithing. Demolition lasted for a couple of years
June 1986 broken up at Inverkeithing
Was managed by Metal Industries Ltd during WW2.
She was the longest-serving of the KIN CLASS under the White Ensign