RFA Warden


Previous name:
Subsequent name:                  Twyford   Nisos Delos    Vernicos Dimitrios

Official Number:                      181812

Class:                                    Bustler Class Fleet Tug

Pennant No:                           W170  / A309  

Laid down:
Builder:                                  Henry Robb, Leith, Scotland
Launched:                              28 June 1945
Into Service:                           1959
Out of service:                        January 1965
Fate:                                     Sold to Greek interests

Items of historic interest involving this ship: -


Background Data:   At the outbreak of WW2 there was a need for modern Fleet Tugs to augment the existing numbers, and experience dictated use of a proven, pre-war design to be built in a commercial shipyard. The answer was provided by Henry Robb of Leith who built 8 ships of this Class for the Royal Navy , making them the first RN Fleet Tugs powered by 2 x 8 cylinder diesel engines. The tugs were ordered in pairs. Oil fuel capacity was 405 tons which gave a range of about 1700 miles. As completed, the Class was armed with 1 x 12 pdr AA gun, 1 x 2 pdr AA, 2  x 20 mm AA  and 4 x Lewis .303 machine guns and had a complement of 42. They were designed for ocean towing, salvage and rescue and had a 30 ton bollard pull but were not suitable for harbour work. Early in the War they were involved in trials of pressure-minesweeping methods, where a dumb barge was towed behind the tug with the aim of exploding mines intended for merchant ships and warships. Unfortunately the pressure wave created by the tug alone was sufficient to detonate the mines, so the trials were abandoned. Post-War, the Class was ripe for commercial charter and eventually 6 of the Class saw service as RFA’s

28 June 1945 launched by Henry Robb Ltd, Leith as Yard Nr 338 named HMS WARDEN

14 November 1945 Chief Cook Henry Charles Clarke discharged dead. He is buried in Edinburgh (Seafield) Cemetery, Section P Grave 808

 Clarke H

Courtesy and © of The War Graves Photographic Project

December 1946 to 1951 on charter to Risdon A. Beazeley Ltd, Southampton renamed TWYFORD

5 September 1946 Greaser William John McAdam discharged dead. He is buried in Bothwell (Bellshill) Cemetery.



9 March 1947 passed the Lloyds Signal Station on the Lizard sailing east

15 March 1947 sailed Falmouth to an American steamer Ernie Pyle which had broken down off the Scily Isles - the steamer recovered power before the Twyford arrived

10 October 1947 passed the Lloyds Signal Station on the Lizard sailing west

5 January 1948 passed the Lloyds Signal Station on the Lizard sailing west towing RFA ORANGELEAF (1)

31 January 1948 towed the steamer Hellenic from off the coast of Spain into Falmouth bay after the ship radioed she was in difficulty

18 March 1948 passed the Lloyds Signal Station on the Lizard sailing east

24 March 1948 passed the Lloyds Signal Station on the Lizard sailing west with tow

18 April 1948 passed the Lloyds Signal Station on the Lizard sailing east

29 April 1948 passed the Lloyds Signal Station on the Lizard sailing east

24 June 1948 passed the Lloyds Signal Station on the Lizard sailing east

19 November 1948 passed the Lloyds Signal Station on the Lizard sailing west

29 May 1949 arrived at Inverkeithing with ss Talma in tow for breaking by T E Ward

22 August 1949 passed the Lloyds Signal Station on the Lizard sailing east

1951 returned to the Admiralty and name reverted to HMS WARDEN

11 July 1951 sailed Bermuda with HMS REWARD towing Admiralty Floating Dock No: 5 to the UK

9 September 1952 arrived at Rosyth with the destroyer HMS GEORGETOWN in tow for breaking up

26 August 1953 Lieutenant Commander Frederick C Hard Royal Navy appointed in command

26 March 1954 sailed Cape Town with HMS KEMPENFELT in tow back to the UK for refit.

21 July 1954 sailed Malta with ML2493 in tow for Portsmouth

6 February 1955 four sailors on the Warden injured when line parted while towing the depot ship HMS MONTCLARE. A Doctor from HMS DARING transferred to the WARDEN to give medical aid. All the sailors taken by lifeboat to St Mary's Hospital, Scilly Islands. One detained

14 August 1956 by a secret signal the Admiralty ordered the C in C Portsmouth that the WARDEN and RFA SAMSONIA when stored should sail towing Lifting Craft 10 & 11. The Lifting craft would have civilian crews from the UK to Malta. On arrival both tugs whould remain temporarily on the Mediterranean Station

October 1956 as HMS WARDEN saw service during Operation Musketeer - the Suez Crisis - towed a lifting crane from Portsmouth to Port Said

6 May 1957 when just south of Loch Ryan towing HMS RELENTLESS from the Clyde to Chatham reported by radio that one of her engines had broken down. As the sea was favourable she continued the tow




1 October 1958 at Malta

2 October 1958 sailed Malta for Port Said

6 October 1958 arrived Port Said and transitted the Suez Canal

7 October 1958 sailed Suez to Aden

12 October 1958 arrived at Aden

21 October 1958 sailed Aden for Muscat

24 October 1958 at anchor at Muscat and involved in the salvage of two tankers - S.S. MEILKIA and S.S. FERNAND GILABERT with RFA SEA SALVOR and RFA CEDARDALE

8 November 1958 sailed Muscat to Aden

10 November 1958 sailing in company with RFA SEA SALVOR

17 November 1958 arrived at Aden

18 November 1958 sailed Aden to Suez

25 November 1958 arrived Suez

26 November 1958 transitted the Suez Canal (nothbound)

1959 transferred to the RFA and renamed RFA WARDEN

1 January 1960 at Portsmouth

2 January 1960 sailed Portsmouth to Gibraltar

6 January 1960 berthed alongside at Gibraltar - No 46 berth

8 January 1960 sailed Gibraltar for Malta

14 January 1960 arrived at Malta

17 January 1960 sailed Malta for Port Said

23 September 1960 members of the crew of the HMS WARDEN, RFA SEA SALVOR, RFA CEDARDALE together with several Royal Naval Units all shared £100,000 salvage money for the salvage of two tankers - S.S. MEILKIA and S.S. FERNAND GILABERT - during the period 13th September to 28th October 1958 details in the London Gazette of that date

GILABERTS.S. MEILKKIA and S.S. FERNAND GILABERT in 1958 which caught fire in the Arabian Sea.

20 July 1961 Captain F R Murray RFA appointed as Master

19 October 1961 while towing HMS BARMOUTH from Portsmouth to Rosyth, the 5” tow parted just north of Flamborough Head in very heavy weather. BARMOUTH had a towing crew on board and was drifting towards shallow water. WARDEN managed to re-connect with a temporary 3 1/2” wire and pull BARMOUTH clear of the shoals twice before replacing the main winch wire (350 fathoms of 5” wire weighing about 3 1/2 tons) and then re-connecting again. During this period the weather remained very bad and BARMOUTH drifted about 82 miles

11 January 1963 while towing HMS PHEASANT off the north Cornish coast in heavy weather the tow parted. The frigate was on route to the breakers at Troon. With helicopter assistance from RNAS, Culdrose, WARDEN put a small party aboard and re-connected the tow

 RFA Warden  RNAS Helicopter 2

Helicopter from RNAS Culdrose preparing to winch crew member off RFA Warden

 RFA Warden  RNAS helicopter

RNAS Helicopter from Culdrose putting a small party on HMS Phesant
Both images courtesy of John Hargreaves

January 1965 towed by TYPHOON to Pembroke Dock and placed in reserve

September 1969 purchased by Tsavliris (Salvage & Towage) Ltd, Piraeus and renamed NISOS DELOS

1972 purchased by Nicolas E. Vernicos Shipping Co Ltd, Piraeus and renamed VERNICOS DIMITRIOS




As Vernicos Dimitrios looking rather rusty in Greece 

19 October 1992 broken up by Dimitrios Aslanis at Perama

Additional information

Copyright © 2008 – 2017 Christopher J White

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