RFA Wave Laird

RFA Wave Laird


Previous name:                       Empire Dunbar

Official Number:                      180967

Class:                                     WAVE CLASS  Freighting  Oiler (unmodified)

Pennant No:                            X129 / A119

Laid down:
Builder:                                   Laings, Deptford Yard
Launched:                              3 April 1946
Into Service:                           30 September 1946
Out of service:
Fate:                                       Broken up


Items of historic interest involving this ship: -


Background Data:   A need for fast tankers to bring oil into the country had been envisaged early in the Second World War, but by the time the material had been collected and the Yards had space to build them, the need had largely passed and the original design of diesel-engined ships was abandoned. Instead, the standard 12000t Class being built were given sharper bows and sterns and turbine engines with water tube boilers. In all, 21 of this type were built and were offered to the Admiralty, who wanted faster tankers for the Pacific Fleet Train. The Admiralty took 20 of them (the final vessel being completed commercially for Oil and Molasses Tankers Ltd, London as BEECHWOOD) and renamed them with the WAVE nomenclature. Performance varied considerably from ship to ship and they underwent various modifications in their rigs for RAS work. The 8 best ones were finally given an extensive refit, with extra accommodation added to the Bridge Deck and extra turbo cargo pumps and derricks to make them more satisfactory for Fleet work. Initially expensive to run, they recouped some of their expensive repair bills by earning revenues from charter work after the Korean War. From this Class was evolved the TIDE CLASS oilers


3 April 1946 launched by Sir James Laing & Sons Ltd, Deptford Yard, Sunderland as Yard Nr 767 named  EMPIRE DUNBAR for the MoWT. Cost £334,140.00 (source contract letter in Tyne & Wear Archives)

6 May 1946 berthed at North Eastern Marine, River Tyne

26 June 1946 Mr David C Leathley RFA appointed as Chief Engineer Officer

30 September 1946 completed - acquired by the Admiralty and renamed WAVE LAIRD

1 October 1946 at anchor off the River Tyne

3 October 1946 towed into the River Tyne after breaking down on her builders trials to Hawthorne Leslie

12 October 1946 sailed the River Tyne to continue her builders trials

14 October 1946 the Shields Daily News reported that -

WLAIRD 14 10 46 Shields Daily News

16 October 1946 sailed the River Tyne for Trinidad

19 October 1946 passed the Lloyds signal station on the Lizard sailing west

27 November 1946 sailed the River Clyde

9 December 1946 at Trinidad

14 December 1946 sailed Trinidad for the UK

25 December 1946 passed Prawle Point sailing east

26 December 1946 at Portland  while due to sail for Trinidad delayed due to boiler problems

15 January 1947 sailed Portland for Trinidad

15 February 1947 sailed Freetown for Trinidad

23 February 1947 sailed Trinidad for LEFO

17 March 1947 reported as adrift with engines out of action 20 miles off Tasker Rock, County Wexford, Ireland in gale force winds - requested assistance - boiler trouble. Suffered such heavy weather damage that repairs were essential before cargo from Trinidad could be discharged at the Admiralty fuel depot at Old Kilpatrick, River Clyde

30 March 1947 sailed from Milford Haven to Trinidad

25 April 1947 passed the Lloyds Signal Station on Flamborough Head sailing south

26 April 1947 at Cuxhaven

3 May 1947 arrived at Hebburn on Tyne

5 May 1947 berthed at TIC Hebburn Quay, River Tyne

19 May 1947 Captain Herbert W Flint RFA appointed as Master

23 May 1947 sailed from Hebburn on Tyne for Trinidad

6 June 1947 sailed Portland

17 June 1947 passed the Lloyd's signal station on the Lizard sailing east 

12 August 1947 berthed at Trinidad from Falmouth 

9 September 1947 berthed at Trinidad from Devonport

11 September 1947 sailed Trinidad for a UK port

28 October 1947 berthed at Wallsend Slipway, River Tyne, in refit

26 November 1947 sailed the River Tyne for Curacao

15 January 1948 sailed Bermuda for Trinidad

3 February 1948 berthed at Avonmouth

4 February 1948 Mr R B Burgh RFA appointed as Chief Engineer Officer

24 March 1948 arrived at Trinidad from Bowling

25 March 1948 sailed Trinidad for LEFO

6 April 1948 berthed at Devonport from Trinidad after suffering engine defects

27 May 1948 sailed from Trinidad for LEFO

15 August 1948 arrived Suez from Abadan

21 August 1948 sailed Port Said

22 September 1948 sailed from Trinidad

28 February 1949 arrived at Abadan

18 March 1949 sailed Port Said for LEFO

28 March 1949 Captain Rowland K Hill RFA appointed as Master

Captain Rowland Kelsey Hill OBE

Captain Rowland K Hill RFA

30 July 1949 while on passage from Falmouth to Abadan passed Gibraltar this day

4 August 1949 while on passage from Falmouth arrived at Port Said this day

6 August 1949 sailed Suez

15 August 1949 berthed at Abadan from Falmouth

10 November 1949 Deckhand Frederick William Hallett discharged dead. He is buried in Kalkara Royal Naval Cemetery, Malta. Deckhand Hallett had been killed as a result of injuries received when the ship was hit by heavy seas on a voyage from Abadan to Malta. The funeral was attended by the Captain, Officers and crew from the ship and also from RFA ROWANOL and RFA NASPRITE together with the Secretary of the Malta branch of the National Union of Seaman.


Deckhand Frederick William Hallett

Image courtesy British War Graves with thanks

16 November 1949 arrived at Port Said transitted the Canal and sailed from Suez on 17 November 1949

26 November 1949 arrived at Abadan

28 November 1949 sailed Abadan for the UK

8 December 1949 arrived Suez

9 December 1949 sailed Port Said

14 December 1949 passed Gibraltar west bound for Devonport

30 December 1949 Mr I M Macfarlane RFA appointed as Chief Engineer Officer

22 March 1950 arrived at Abadan from Devonport

5 May 1949 arrived at Suez

6 May 1949 sailed Port Said

23 May 1950 Donkeyman Frederick Richard Dawe discharged dead at 44°53N 8°03W - natural causes

8 June 1950 arrived at Port Said from Devonport when on passage to Abadan

24 June 1950 sailed Suez for Abadan from Devonport

25 June 1950 to 27 July 1953 saw service during the Korean War along with 18 other RFA’s and was awarded the Korea 1950 - 51 Battle Honour


wlaird Keynea

Refuelling the cruiser HMS Keyna off Korea

2 July 1950 arrived Abadan from Devonport

22 September 1950 arrived Port Said while on passage to Abadan

5 October 1950 sailed Suez while on passage from Falmouth to Abadan

14 October 1950 arrived Abadan from Falmouth

17 November 1950 in the Inchon approaches off Korea refuelled HMS CEYLON and HMAS BATAAN

HMS Ceylon


10 December 1950 at Cho-Do off Korea with HMCS CAYUGA alongside being refuelled. HMAS BATAAN was coming alongside HMCS CAYUGA and was pushed into the side of the Canadian ship by a sudden gust of wind causing damage

January 1951 RAS'ed HMS THESEUS off Korea

5 March 1951 arrived Abadan

7 March 1951 sailed Abadan for Port Said

16 March 1951 arrived at Suez

18 March 1951 sailed Port Said

29 April 1951 Captain Richard L Barber MID RD RFA (Commander RNR) appointed as Master until 20 July 1951

19 May 1951 Mr George McBain RFA appointed as Chief Engineer Officer

26 June 1951 in the London Gazette of this day on page 3553 Captain Rowland Kelsey Hill RFA was appointed to be an Additional Officer of the Military Division of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE)

19 July 1951 involved in a collision with Royal Inter Ocean liner Boissevain in the Singapore Strait

20 July 1951 at anchor in the outer roads at Singapore

3 August 1951 Captain J Bottomley RFA appointed as Master

10 August 1951 in the outer roads at Singapore

13 August 1951 alongside at Singapore

29 November 1951 Mr J S Aitken RFA appointed as Chief Engineer Officer

2 December 1952 Captain G O W Evans DSC RFA appointed as Master

1 January 1953 sailed Suez

5 January 1953 sailed Aden for Bahrein

4 March 1953 passed Thursday Island

January 1954 supported Naval vessels with the Royal Yacht Gothic on a State visit to Australia by HM the Queen

9 January 1954 sailed Singapore Roads for Bahrein

14 February 1954 sailed Gibraltar for Trinidad

22 September 1954 arrived at Amuary Bay from Trinidad

4 October 1954 sailed Trinidad for LEFO

22 October 1954 berthed at Smith's Dock, River Tyne from Portsmouth

21 November 1954 Captain Geoffrey B A Livesey RFA appointed as Master



Captain Geoffrey B A Livesey RFA
as a Cadet with P&O in about 1920


19 December 1954 passed the Lloyds Signal Station on Flamborough Head sailing north

14 October 1955 sailed Ras Tanura for Singapore

28 November 1955 arrived Bahein

21 December 1955 arrived Gibraltar

30 December 1955 sailed Gibraltar for Trinidad

2 February 1956 arrived at Port Stanley, Falkland Islands from Trinidad

7 May 1956 Captain J W Cunningham RFA appointed as Master

14 August 1956 berthed at Malta from the UK to discharge 9,000 tons of FFO and 1,000 tons of diesel

31 October 1956 deployed for Operation Musketeer - the Suez Crisis - along with 34 other RFA’s

11 April 1957 during Exercise Tradewind RASed with HMAS ANZAC

14 April 1957 during Exercise Tradewind RASed with HMAS ANZAC

24 April 1957 sailed Singapore with RN, RNZN, French and RAN units to take part in Exercise Astra

30 April 1957 during Exercise Astra RASed with HMAS ANZAC

HMAS Anzac AWM P00271 001


3 May 1957 in the vicinity of Sattahib RASed with HMAS's MELBOURNE, ANZAC and TOBRUK prior to steaming to Hong Kong

23 May 1957 during Exercise Sealink RASed with HMAS's ANZAC and TOBRUK. HMAS ANZAC received 348 tons of FFO

4 September 1957 at Trinidad Sailor Muay Chew Tong discharged dead - accidental

5 September 1957 sailed from Trinidad

10 October 1957 arrived at Curaço

8 November 1957 arrived at Plymouth

12 November 1957 Mr J Ross RFA appointed as Chief Engineer Officer

1 December 1957 arrived at Greenock

17 April 1958 arrived at Singapore Roads

26 May 1958 arrived at Malta

3 August 1958 arrived at Aden

9 September 1958 sailed Malta

18 October 1958 Captain L J Mack DSO RFA appointed as Master

1 November 1958 passed Gibraltar sailing east bound

13 November 1958 arrived at Aden

14 November 1958 sailed Aden

14 December 1958 sailed Abadan for Simonstown, South Africa

5 January 1959 sailed Simonstown, South Africa to Aden arriving 18 January 1959

7 April 1959 Captain George Baker RFA appointed as Master

2 May 1959 berthed at Malta

26 August 1959 sailed Malta to Bahrain

17 December 1959 Mr G Thompson RFA appointed as Chief Engineer Officer

31 December 1959 alongside at Simontown, South Africa

31 January 1960 at sea at 16.40W 55.10E Seaman Ting Ah Hong discharged dead through apparent natural causes. Buried at Sea

21 March 1960 arrived at Malta from the Persian Gulf

24 May 1960 arrived at Grand Harbour, Malta from Tobruk

20 August 1960 at Devonport Sailor Yee Hoo Ling discharged dead from self inflicted strangulation

16 September 1960 deployed in support of RN units off Iceland during 1st Cod War until 29 September 1960

1961 laid up in reserve at Devonport

October 1969 on disposal list Devonport

1 November 1969 offered for sale 'as lying' at Devonport Dockyard in the Times of this day

Press cutting Times WLaird WDuke Surf Patrol 1969

26 January 1970 left Devonport under tow to Gibraltar.

25 February 1970 left Gibraltar under tow to the ship breakers

March 1970 arrived Hierros Ardes, Gandia, Spain for breaking up





She acted as a Support Ship to HMS PROTECTOR and ran supplies to the Falkland Islands.

Additional information

Copyright © 2008 – 2018 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.