RFA Fort Constantine



Official Number:              169996

Class:                             CANADIAN FORT CLASS Stores Ship

Pennant No:                    B578 / A300

Laid down:
Builder:                           Burrard, Vancouver, Canada
Launched:                      11 March 1944
Into Service:                    25 April 1944   
Out of service:                 1969
Fate:                               Broken up


Items of historic interest involving this ship: -


Background Data:  After the outbreak of WW2, the first cargo vessels built in Canada for the War Effort were the “North Sands” type, the hulls of which conformed to original British working drawings supplied by the North Sands Shipyard of J.L. Thompson & Sons at Sunderland. Following experience gained from these ships, improved versions with a more economic operation were introduced. These were the ”Victory” and “Canadian” types. The “Victory” type was an oil burner and two water tube boilers were substituted for the original 3 Scotch boilers. Because of the then concerns about oil fuel supplies, the “Canadian” type had coal bunkers and alternate oil fuel capacity installed, but with a reversion to the original 3 Scotch boilers of the “North Sands” type. In 1943, when the shipping situation in the Pacific was becoming acute, the British Government ordered that a number of the ships of the Canadian building programme  be completed as Stores Issuing Ships whose intended task would be to follow and victual naval units as part of the British Pacific Fleet Train. In all, 16 ships were completed as Stores Issuing Ships as follows: 3 as Ammunition Carriers, 2 as Air Stores Issuing Ships, 2 as Naval Stores Issuing Ships and 9 as refrigerated Victualling Stores Issuing Ships. All were managed by commercial companies with vast experience of Far Eastern Waters as Mercantile Fleet Auxiliaries with Merchant Navy Crews and a detachment  of Stores Staff from the Victualling Division of the Admiralty under a Commander. On the refrigerated ships, the refrigerated space was in the tween decks and amounted to 111,480 cubic feet in 25 chambers. The lower holds were used for non-perishable items of stores, clothing, etc. After WW2, 8 of these ships became RFA’s. They were only armed during WW2.



11 March 1944 launched as a “Victory” type by Vancouver Dry Dock Co Ltd, Vancouver as Yard Nr: 207 named FORT CONSTANTINE for the MoWT.

25 April 1944 completed as a refrigerated VSIS by Burrard Dry Dock Co Ltd, Vancouver and placed under initial management of Ellerman and Bucknall Steamship Co Ltd, London

20 July 1944 at Colombo, Ceylon

8 August 1944 at Colombo, Ceylon Deck Topass Peter Chaudicunjan discharged dead from an aortic aneurysm

10 August 1944 at Colombo, Ceylon with HMAS GAWLER berthed alongside

Hmas gawler


14 November 1944 sailed Colombo, Ceylon to Freemantle arriving 1 December 1944

4 December 1944 sailed Freemantle to Melbourne arriving 10 December 1944

16 December 1944 sailed Melbourne to Vancouver arriving 22 January 1945

7 September 1945 arrived at Manus Naval Base, Admiralty Islands

10 September 1945 sailed Manus Naval Base, Admiralty Islands

12 March 1946 sailed Hong Kong

29 January 1946 berthed at Fremantle, Western Australia

20 June 1946 at Hong Kong as a passenger Chief Steward Charles Christian discharged dead from Hypepyrexia followed by cardiac failure. When Chief Steward Christian collapsed he was taken to HMS VENERABLE where he was pronounced dead

22 September 1946 with HMS CAMPERDOWN, RFA's FORT ROSALIE (1) and WAVE SOVEREIGN sailed Kure, Japan

1 October 1946 at Kaimon Dake HMAS BATAAN alongside receiving provisions

30 October 1946 sailed Hong Kong for Singapore

7 April 1947 arrived Sydney, NSW from Hong Kong

2 June 1947 arrived Hong Kong from Sydney, NSW

16 July 1947 berthed at Sydney, NSW from Hong Kong

4 September 1947 berthed at Colombo from Sydney, NSW

6 September 1947 sailed Colombo, Ceylon

19 September 1947 sailed Suez

25 September 1947 berthed at Gibraltar

27 September 1947 sailed Gibraltar for Swansea

1 October 1947 berthed at Swansea from Sydney, NSW, Ceylon and Gibraltar with 15 passengers

1948 Managers now W.H. Seager & Co, Cardiff name unchanged

12 August 1948 berthed at Swansea

1949 acquired by the Admiralty

10 August 1949 Captain A Spencer RFA appointed as Master

22 November 1949 Mr William H MacFarlane RFA appointed at Chief Engineer Officer

 CEO Wm H MacFarlane

Chief Engineer Officer William H MacFarlane RFA

12 August 1949 at Cardiff

5 December 1949 transferred to RFA manning and management

11 January 1950 the Derby Daily Telegraph reported -

Press Report 11 1 1950 Derby Evening

13 January 1950 at the General Hospital Colombo, Ceylon Engine Room Serang Soomar Oosman discharged dead from renal failure

21 January 1950 still at Colombo

22 January 1950 Mr R C Veitch RFA appointed as Chief Engineer Officer

7 February 1950 at Singapore

18 March 1950 at Singapore

15 April 1950 to 22 April 1950 at Colombo, Ceylon

20 May 1950 arrived Suez when on passage from Colombo to Plymouth

21 May 1950 sailed Port Said for Plymouth

5 June 1950 at Plymouth

28 June 1950 passed through the Solent while on passage to Southampton from Plymouth

29 June 1950 berthed at Southampton

1 August 1950 Mr Lionel W Pool RFA appointed as Chief Engineer Officer

8 August 1950 at Gibraltar

12 August 1950 at Malta GC

3 November 1950 at Colombo, Ceylon

23 November 1950 at Bombay, India

21 December 1950 berthed at Portsmouth Harbour and landed 2 DBS seaman

22 January 1951 sailed Portsmouth

6 March 1951 sailed Bermuda with the final remaining stores from the former Naval Dockyard there which had ceased to exist as such as from 1 March 1951

13 May 1951 arrived at Malta

19 May 1951 sailed Suez

4 June 1951 arrived Trincomalee, Ceylon

21 July 1951 sailed Hong Kong for Singapore

3 August 1951 sailed Singapore for Columbo, Ceylon

9 September 1951 sailed Aden for Suez

16 October 1951 Captain George F Rutter RD RFA (Commander RNR (ret)) appointed as Master

Captain G F Rutter

Captain George F Rutter RD RFA

12 December 1951 Mr George McBain RFA appointed as Chief Engineer Officer

31 December 1951 arrive Gibraltar

17 May 1952 sailed Malta with His Grace Mgr. Sir Michael Gonzi KBE LL.D, Metropolitan Archbishop of Malta and his Chaplain as passengers 

Mikiel Gonzi

        His Grace Mgr. Sir Michael Gonzi KBE LL.D,
Metropolitan Archbishop of Malta

23 July 1952 sailed Sheerness to Malta, Trincomalee, Singapore and Hong Kong with 12 passengers

3 October 1952 in support of Operation Hurricane 1 - the first British test atomic bomb explosion at Monte Bello Islands off NW Australia - along with RFA’s FORT BEAUHARNOIS, FORT ROSALIE (1), GOLD RANGER, WAVE PRINCE, WAVE RULER (1) and WAVE SOVEREIGN

1 June 1953 Captain George Frederick Rutter RD RFA (Commander RNR (ret)) appointed as an Additional Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (Military Division) (OBE) vide the London Gazette of the day on page 2947

29 September 1953 Mr Victor J Cooney RFA appointed as Chief Engineer Officer

15 February 1954 sailed Malta with Vice Admiral and Lady Elizabeth Davis as passengers. Vice Admiral Davis had just ended his appointment as Flag Officer Second in Command Mediterranean Station and Flag Officer (Air) Mediterranean

15 March 1954 Captain James H Chant RFA appointed as relieving Master under 19 March 1954

7 June 1954 passed Gibraltar sailing east bound

21 June 1954 sailed Aden for Trincomalee, Ceylon

9 August 1954 at Queen Mary Hospital, Hong Kong Deck Tindal Sk Mohamed Nakwa discharged dead having suffered from a stroke

1 November 1954 Mr David L Walls RFA appointed as Chief Engineer Officer

3 December 1954 sailed Malta eastbound

12 July 1955 Captain Stanley C Kernick RFA appointed as Master

19 August 1955 passed Dover sailing east bound and arrived at Chatham Dockyard

7 September 1955 sailed Chatham for Singapore and Hong Kong with 11 passengers

17 January 1956 berthed at Devonport after a voyage from Hong Kong and Singapore with 10 passengers

18 February 1956 sailed Chatham to Trincomalee, Singapore and Hong Kong with 11 passengers

11 July 1956 Mr William J Brown OBE DSC RFA appointed as Chief Engineer Officer

September 1956 converted into a NS/VSIS

3 October 1956 Mr Charles Scott DSC RFA appointed as Chief Engineer Officer

2 January 1957 passed Dover sailing west bound

16 July 1957 in refit in the King George dry dock at Singapore Dockyard

30 July 1957 Mr V J Cooney RFA appointed as Chief Engineer Officer

1 October 1957 Captain Franklin G Edwards appointed as Master

1957 - 1959 Supported Operation Grapple- the British H-bomb test at Christmas Island in the Pacific Ocean - along with 16 other RFA’s




April 1957 a victualling dispute with the Lascar crew resulted in fresh food stores being delivered from Sydney, NSW and the dispute ending within seven days

15 July 1957 in refit in Singapore in the King George Dry Dock

14 January 1958 at Christmas Island Secunny Hoosein Janioo Baba discharged dead - drowned. Firemen P Ramulu and Shauker Narayan and Secunny Adbul Sattar all discharged dead missing from the ships boat presumed drowned

13 June 1958 berthed at Plymouth after a voyage from Hong Kong and Singapore with 12 passengers

21 September 1958 deployed for duties in connection with Operation Grapple at Christmas Island with 683 tons of cargo

17 August 1959 Captain Geoffrey B A Livesey RFA appointed as Master



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


26 October 1959 arrived at Malta from the UK

11 January 1960 Mr David C Leathley OBE RFA appointed as Chief Engineer Officer

6 April 1960 berthed at Malta from Gibraltar

30 May 1960 berthed at Malta from Gibraltar

16 June 1960 involved in a collision with INS Beas south of Plymouth Sound. Slight damage to the Indian Naval Frigate

18 August 1960 Commodore Thomas Elder CBE DSC RFA appointed as Master

25 October 1960 sailed Chatham to Malta, Aden and Singapore with 12 passengers

4 November 1960 sailed from Malta for Aden

11 March 1961 sailed from Malta for Singapore

8 September 1961 Captain Frank A Shaw OBE RD RFA (Lieutenant Commander RNR (Rtd)) appointed as Master

8 January 1962 Mr A King  RFA appointed as Chief Engineer Officer

18 December 1962 laid up at Devonport

August 1969 placed on disposal list at Devonport

27 August 1969  and 6 September 1969 offered for sale ‘as is – where is’ at Devonport by the Crown Agents Disposal Corporation, Canada in the Times newspaper of this day - the ship was loaded with 1,293 tons of Boom Defence Equipment included in the sale

26 October 1969 arrived at Hamburg, Germany in tow for breaking up by Elkhart & Co GmbH



  1. Prior to RFA service was part of the British Pacific Fleet - hence the B pennant number

Additional information

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