RFA Fort BeauharnoisBy the autumn of 1940 the losses of Merchant ships was becoming acute, and there was an urgent need to replace this lost tonnage if the country was to survive, the capacity of British shipyards was full, and so a team was despatched to the United States and Canada to seek out sources of new shipbuilding.

 

This team, which was known as “The British Merchant Shipbuilding Mission” was given Government authority to buy or have built sufficient ships of around 10,000 tons deadweight to feed demand, they were armed with a set of drawings prepared by J. L. Thompson and Sons of Sunderland, these drawings were of the “Empire Liberty” design, which to all intents and purposes became the Canadian “North Sands” type of ship.

 

 

By the autumn of 1940 the losses of Merchant ships was becoming acute, and there was an urgent need to replace this lost tonnage if the country was to survive, the capacity of British shipyards was full, and so a team was despatched to the United States and Canada to seek out sources of new shipbuilding.

 

This team, which was known as “The British Merchant Shipbuilding Mission” was given Government authority to buy or have built sufficient ships of around 10,000 tons deadweight to feed demand, they were armed with a set of drawings prepared by J. L. Thompson and Sons of Sunderland, these drawings were of the “Empire Liberty” design, which to all intents and purposes became the Canadian “North Sands” type of ship.

 

The “Mission” first toured American shipyards on both the East and West coasts, placing orders for 30 ships at shipyards in Portland in Maine and for another 30 at Richmond in California.

 

By 1941 Canada had joined in the effort and dozens of small shipyards were producing Merchant Ships at the combined rate of one new ship every three days, this was with the help of skilled shipyard workers from the UK, who had been drafted in to help train the Canadian workforce, and to ensure the shipbuilding programme stayed on track.

 

Dozens of ships were built to three basic designs, the first was the “North Sands” type, a derivative of the design produced by J. L. Thompson, these ships had a deadweight of 9,300 tons, and were powered by three coal fired scotch boilers to drive their engines, this design carried four lifeboats, one on each side of the bridge structure and one on each side of the after accommodation.

 

The engines had been designed in the UK by the North Eastern Marine Engineering Company of Newcastle in such a way as all the components were produced in special jigs, so were uniform and could be sub-contracted to speed up production, and the contract to manufacture the finished engines was shared between a number of companies in both the US and Canada.  This method of production ensured that engines built in this way had parts that were fully interchangeable.

 

An improved version of the “North Sands” type quickly followed in the light of experiences gained from building them, this was the “Victory” type, which most of the Royal Navy ships and those that were eventually to become RFA’s were of this type.

 

There were slight differences in between the two designs, these were mainly in the layout of the superstructure, and they had Water Tube Boilers in place of the Scotch type and were oil fired as opposed to coal fired.  The improved design also had the lifeboats in different position; they were now placed in pairs in the mid-ships section.

 

All of the ships that eventually entered service with the RFA were built for the Canadian Department of Commerce and chartered out to Commercial shipping companies, though controlled by the Ministry of War Transport, these ships were as follows:

 

 

 

Fort Beauharnois

Type: Victory

Builder: West Coast Shipyards Limited, Vancouver.

Completed: 14 April 1944

Yard No: 146                                                        Official No: 175806

Tonnage: 7,162 grt, 3,871 nett

Length: 464.6 feet                         Beam: 57.2 feet                      Draught: 34.9 feet

Machinery: 1 x 3 Cylinder steam triple expansion engine by Canadian Allis Chalmers Ltd.

Speed: 10 knots

Pennant Number: A 285 (Post 1947)

Call Sign: BKZQ

 

 

Launched as Fort Grand Rapids, completed as CornishPark and renamed Fort Beauharnois in 1945.  Operated by the Ministry of War Transport, with A. Holt and Co, Liverpool as managers.

 

After the war the ship was laid up at Swansea in reserve, in 1948 she became and RFA and was converted to a Naval Stores/Victualling Stores Issuing Ship.  From 1952 to 1956 she was mainly on freighting duties between Chatham, Gibraltar, Malta and Plymouth.  In 1956 she was fitted as a Victualing Stores Issuing Ship for “Operation Grapple”, Britain’s nuclear test programme in the South Pacific.  In 1959 she assisted in the salvage of the Andrew Weir Ship “Beaverbank" which had run ashore on Fanning Island.  The ship returned to the UK in 1960 and was then employed as a Naval Store ship between the UK and the Far East; she was laid up in Malta in April 1962, eventually being handed over to the Ministry of Transport for disposal

 

The ship was named after Charles le Marquis de Beauharnois, who had been Governor of Canada.

 

1963 broken up at Spezia, Italy.

 

BATTLE HONOURS for this vessel: No Battle honours are recorded.

 

 

Fort_Beauharnois

 

RFA Fort Beauharnois

 

 

 

Fort Charlotte

 

Type: Victory

Builder: NorthVancouver Ship Repairers, Ltd. Vancouver

Completed: 5 April 1944

Yard No: 139                                                         Official No: 175375

Tonnage: 7,160 grt, 3,869 nett

Length: 424.6 feet                           Beam: 57.2 feet                         Draught: 34.9 feet

Machinery: 1 x 3 Cylinder triple expansion engine by John Inglis and Co Ltd, Ontario

Speed: 10 knots

Pennant Number: A 236 (Post 1947)

Call Sign: MKMF

 

 

Laid down as BuffaloPark and renamed Fort Charlotte in 1945. The ship was completed as a Victualing Stores Issuing Ship and managed by the Eastern and Australian Steamship Co Ltd of London on behalf of the Ministry of War Transport and saw service in the British Pacific Fleet Train during the latter part of the Second World War.

 

In 1948 she was taken over by the RFA and converted to a Naval Stores/ Victualing Stores Issuing Ship; she was then stationed in the Far East and took part in operations in Korea.  The ship was placed on the disposal list in 1967 and eventually broken up at Singapore in June 1968.

 

The ship was named after an 18 Century Trading Post and Fort on the Pigeon River in Minnesota.

 

BATTLE HONOURS for this vessel: No Battle Honours are recorded.

 

 

 

Fort_Charlotte

 

RFA Fort Charlotte

 

 

 

 

Fort Constantine

 

Type: Victory

Builder: Burrard Drydock Company Limited, Vancouver

Completed: 25 April 1944

Yard No: 207                                                        Official No: 169996

Tonnage: 7,221 grt, 4,027 nett

Length: 424.6 feet                                Beam: 57.2 feet                     Draught: 34.9 feet

Machinery: 1 x 3 Cylinder triple expansion engine by Canadian Allis Chalmers Ltd

Speed: 10 knots

Pennant Numbers: A 237 (Post 1947)

Call Sign: MXLJ

 

 

Delivered in April 1944 to the Ministry of War Transport, and managed for them by Ellerman, Bucknall Steamship Company as a Victualling Stores Issuing Ship, and was part of the British Pacific Fleet Train.

 

The ship was transferred to RFA Service in 1951 and converted to a Store Carrier and employed freighting to the Mediterranean and Far East until 1956.  In September 1956 she was converted again, this time to a Naval Stores/Victualing Stores Issuing Ship and from 1957 to 1959 she was stationed in the Pacific as part of Operation Grapple.

 

Brought back to the UK in 1959, she then took over the Chatham, Malta, UK stores run from her sister FortDuquesne.  The ship was laid up in reserve in December 1962; she was broken up at Hamburg in October 1964.

 

The name of this ship comes from a township in St Joseph County, Michigan.

 

BATTLE HONOURS for this vessel: No Battle Honours are recorded.

 

 

 

 Fort_Constantine

 

RFA Fort Constatine

 

 

 

Fort Dunvegan

 

Type: Victory

Builder: Burrard Drydock Company Limited, Vancouver.

Completed: 14 April 1944

Yard No: 206                                                         Official No: 186002

Tonnage: 7,225 grt, 4,025 nett

Length: 424.6 feet                                 Beam: 57.2 feet                      Draught: 34.9 feet

Machinery: 1 x 3 Cylinder triple expansion engine by Canadian Allis Chalmers Ltd.

Speed: 10 knots

Pennant Numbers: A 160 (Post 1947)

Call Sign: BKZY

 

 

Delivered to the Ministry of War Transport in April 1944 and placed under the management of the Ellerman Bucknall Steamship Co as a Victualling Stores Issuing Ship.  At the end of the war the ship was placed in reserve until 1951, when she became an RFA.  The ship took part in the 1953 Coronation Review of the Fleet, with the RFA’s first Commodore on Board, Commodore Stanley G. Kent RFA

 

After this duty she relieved RFA Fort Beauharnois on the UK to Malta stores run until 1960, when she was transferred to the Far East Station, for this duty she was converted to a Air Stores Issuing Ship to support aircraft carriers, in 1961 she was again converted, this time to a Naval Stores/Victualling Stores Issuing Ship at Hong Kong.

 

In 1968 the ship arrived at Kaohsiung for breaking up.

 

This ship was named after Dunnegan, a Hudson Bay Company Trading Post on the Peace River in Alberta.

 

 

BATTLE HONOURS for this vessel: No Battle Honours are recorded.

 

 

 

DUNVEGAN-51

 

RFA Fort Dunvegan

 

 

 

Fort Duquesne

 

Type: Victory

Builder: West Coast Shipbuilding Company, Vancouver.

Completed: 25 November 1944

Yard No: 147                                                          Official No: 175614

Tonnage: 7,220 grt,

Length: 424.6 feet                                     Beam: 57.2 feet                          Draught: 34.9 feet

Machinery: 1 x 3 Cylinder triple expansion engine by Canadian Allis Chalmers Ltd.

Speed: 10 knots

Pennant Numbers: A 229 (Post 1947)

Call Sign: MXPQ

 

 

Laid down as “Quensborough Park”, and allocated to the Ministry of war Transport, under the management of A. Holt and Co Limited, who operated her as a store ship.

 

The ship was transferred to RFA manning in 1947 renamed and converted to a Naval Stores/Victualing Stores Issuing Ship, the ship was then based with the Mediterranean fleet, based at Malta, returning briefly to the UK in 1951 to have a temporary flight deck fitted, she then carried out trials of helicopter landings in the Channel.

 

The ship was broken up at Antwerp in June 1967.

 

The name of this ship comes from Ange Duquesne, who was Marquis de Mennerville and Governor of Canada in 1754, the original Fort Duquesne is now Pittsburgh.

 

BATTLE HONOURS for this vessel: No Battle Honours are recorded.

 

 

 

Fort_Duquesne

  

RFA Fort Duquesne

 

 

Fort Langley

 

Type: Victory

Builder: Victoria Machinery Depot Company Limited, Victoria, BC.

Completed: 18 May 1945

Yard No: 37                                                             Official No: 180495

Tonnage: 7,285 grt, 4,143 nett

Length: 424.6 feet                                   Beam: 57.2 feet                          Draught: 34.9 feet

Machinery: 1 x 3 Cylinder triple expansion engine by Canadian Allis Chalmers, Montreal.

Speed: 10 knots

Pennant Numbers: A 230 (Post 1947)

Call Sign: MXLN

 

 

Launched as the “Montebello Park”, she was assigned to the Ministry of War Transport as an Air Stores Issuing Ship, under management of A. Holt and Co.  Interestingly she was completely stored at Victoria with British and US Navy stores and sailed to join the British Pacific Fleet Train.

 

The ship was transferred to the RFA in 1954 and was converted to an Armament Stores Ship.  She arrived at Bilbao in July 1970 for breaking up.

 

Named after Langley in Bureau County, Illinois, which in turn had been named after a village of this name in South Carolina.

 

 

BATTLE HONOURS for this vessel: No Battle Honours are recorded.

 

 

 

Langley2

 

RFA Fort Langley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fort Rosalie

Type: Canadian

Builder: United Shipyards Ltd, Montreal.

Completed: 7 July 1945

Yard No: 43                                                            Official No: 180636

Tonnage: 7,335 grt

Length: 424.6 feet                                  Beam: 57.2 feet                         Draught: 34.9 feet

Machinery: 1 x 3 Cylinder triple expansion engine by the Dominion Engineering Works.

Speed: 10 knots

Pennant Numbers: A 186 (Post 1947)

 

 

Assigned to the Ministry of War Transport during construction and placed under the management of Ellerman Lines as a Naval Stores Issuing Ship, she served with the British Fleet in the Pacific.

 

Became an RFA in 1947 and was converted to an Armament Sores Ship at Portsmouth and saw service in the Far East between 1949 and 1951, during which time she made a number of trips to Australia to pick up ammunition stored there during the war, and also o South Africa on the same duty.

 

In 1957 she sailed to Christmas Island to support the British Nuclear Bomb trials, she was then returned to the Far East Station.  The ship was broken up at Castellon in February 1973.

 

The name of this ship comes from Rosalie, Duchesse de Pontchartrain, who had a Fort named after her in 1716.

 

BATTLE HONOURS for this vessel: No Battle Honours are recorded.

 

 

 

Fort20Rosalie

 

RFA Fort Rosalie

 

 

 

Fort Sandusky

 

Type: Canadian

Builder: United Shipyards Ltd, Montreal

Completed: 1 August 1945

Yard No: 44                                                            Official No: 180649

Tonnage: 7,375 grt

Length: 424.6 feet                                  Beam: 57.2 feet                     Draught: 34.9 feet

Machinery: 1 x 3 Cylinder triple expansion engine by Dominion Engineering Works.

Speed: 10 knots

Pennant Numbers: A 316 (Post 1947)

 

 

Assigned to the Ministry of War Transport whilst building and placed under the management of Ellerman Lines, London as a Stores Issuing Ship.  She transferred to the RFA in 1949 and was converted to an Ammunition Ship and was assigned to the Far East Station.  Like FortRosalie she made a number of trips to Australia and South Africa to pick up ammunition stored there from the war.

 

Broken up at Castellon, Spain in February 1973.

 

The ships name derives from Sandusky Bay, which was known on French maps under its native name until the word was anglicised in 1749 by English Traders.

 

 

BATTLE HONOURS for this vessel: No Battle Honours are recorded.

 

 

 

RFA_Sandusky

 

RFA Fort Sandusky

 

 

Copyright © 2008 – 2017 Christopher J White

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