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Previous name:                       Empire Silver

Officlal Number:                      168051
Class:                                     1st DALE CLASS Freighting Tanker

Pennant No:                           X 05

Laid down:                             26 December 1939
Builder:                                   Blythswood, Scotstun

Launched:                              19 October 1940
Into Service:                           30 January 1941
Out of service:
Fate:                                        Broken up


Items of historic interest involving this ship: -


Background Data:  Originally there were to have been nineteen ships in this Class. The first six were purchased off the stocks fro the British Tanker Co Ltd whilst building at the instigation of the then Director of Stores, Sir William Gick, who was concerned at the age of the RFA Fleet and ships that were approaching the end of their economic lives. A further two ships were purchased from Anglo Saxon Petroleum Co Ltd for evaluation purposes. At the outbreak of WW2, a further eleven ships were acquired from the MoWT war programme although one of these, to have been named EPPINGDALE, which had been registered in London as EMPIRE GOLD on 21/02/43 and intended for transfer to the Admiralty for manning and management as an RFA and despite five Officers being appointed to her, the intended transfer was cancelled the following day and she thus never entered RFA service. Three of this Class were converted into LSG’s and were then reconverted back into tankers at the end of the War



16 October 1940 Mr M N Carlyle RFA appointed as Chief Engineer Officer

19 October 1940 launched by Blythswood  Shipbuilding Co Ltd, Scotstoun as Yard Nr: 62 named EMPIRE SILVER for the MoWT and originally intended for management by Eagle Oil Transport Co Ltd, London

30 December 1940 acquired by the Admiralty and renamed DENBYDALE

3 January 1941 Captain Archibald Hobson RFA appointed as Master


 Capt Archibald Hobson Photo

Captain Archibald Hobson RFA

30 January 1941 completed

16 February 1941 sailed the Clyde in and joined Liverpool convoy OB 287 which dispersed. Then sailed independently to Point à Pierre, Trinidad arriving 10 March 1941

30 March 1941 sailed Trinidad independently to Halifax arriving 9 April 1941

16 April 1941 sailed Halifax in convoy HX121 carrying a cargo of petrol to the Clyde arriving 1 May 1941

2 May 1941 sailed the Clyde independently to Liverpool arriving the next day

4 May 1941 - 5 May 1941 bombed overnight at Liverpool, no injuries reported

15 May 1941 Mr Charles A Drummond RFA appointed as Chief Engineer Officer



Chief Engineer Officer Charles A Drummond RFA

18 May 1941 sailed Liverpool in convoy OB324 which then dispersed. Then independently to Bermuda arriving 16 June 1941 for repairs

20 June 1941 sailed Bermuda independently to Curacao arriving 25 June 1941

29 June 1941 sailed Curacao independently to Gibraltar arriving 16 July 1941

19 September 1941 - 07:49  while lying alongside the Detached Mole at Gibraltar, she was attacked by 3 Siluro a Lenta Corsa (SLC) - slow running human torpedo / frogmen teams - from the Italian tanker Olterra in Algecerias and which had been scuttled by her crew at the start of the war.


The Spanish raised her and without their knowledge the Italian crew converted her into a base for their human torpedo / frogmen teams . As a result the attack Denbydale's back was broken and she was partially sunk, fortunately without any casualties. She was patched up and spent the rest of her career as a fuelling and accommodation hulk at Gibraltar. Her main engine was dismantled and was sent back to the U.K. although some parts were lost en route when the carrying vessel was sunk. The remainder was later fitted to RFA DERWENTDALE(1). The oil depot ship FIONA SHELL was also sunk in this attack and the British steamer DURHAM was badly damaged

24 September 1941 the Lancashire Evening News reported on several news items received from Rome one of which stated ...

Lancs Even News 24 9 1941

9 March 1942 Chief Officer George W Webster RFA appointed as Chief Officer-in-charge


Captain George W Webster

Chief Officer George W Webster RFA

12 March 1943 at Gibraltar with USS Murphy (DD603) and USS Simpson (DD221) moored alongside to refuel. USS Murphy received 21,742 gallons of fuel

13 March 1943 USS Murphy and USS Simpson cast off and sailed Gibraltar for Cassablanca

16 March 1943 at Gibraltar moored to Buoy No: 14 with USS Jeffers (DD621) moored alongside

USS Jeffers

USS Jeffers (DD 621)

24 March 1943 at Gibraltar moored to Buoy No: 14 with USS Herbert (DD160) and USS Chickadee (AM59) moored alongside

25 March 1943 at Gibraltar moored to Buoy No: 14 with USS Herbert (DD160) and USS Dallas (DD199) moored alongside

6 November 1943 at Gibraltar with HMS CEYLON moored alongside being refuelled

HMS Ceylon


15 February 1944 at Gibraltar moored to Buoy No: 13 with USS Dupont (DD941) alongside to refuel


USS DuPont DD 941

USS Dupont (DD 941)

17 February 1944 Chief Officer R Atkinson RFA appointed as Chief Officer-in-charge

5 October 1944 holed at Gibraltar when the minesweeping sloop HMS REGULUS struck her amidships

20 February 1945 at Gibraltar at 36 berth with USS Neilds (DD 616) moored alongside to refuel


USS Neilds (DD 616)

10 March 1945 was hit by Norwegian tanker 'Arena' while Denbydale was alongside in Gibraltar - no damage reported.

19 July 1955 towed from Gibraltar by the Dutch Tug Oostzee to be broken up at Blyth by Hughes Bolckow Ltd

Oostzee 01

Dutch Tug Oostzee

26 July 1955 passed the Lloyds Signal Station on Flamborough Head heading north under tow


Additional information

Copyright © 2008 – 2017 Christopher J White

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