RFA Salveda



Courtesy of National Museums Liverpool

(Stewart Bale Collection, Merseyside Maritime Museum)

Previous name:
Subsequent name:

Official Number:                      168854                                                                           

Class:                                    Ocean Salvage Ship

Pennant No:                           A497

Laid down:                             28 July 1942
Builder:                                 Cammell Laird, Birkenhead
Launched:                              9 February 1943

Into Service:
Out of service:
Fate:                                     Sold out of service


Items of historic interest involving this ship: -


Background Data: There were originally 13 ships in this Admiralty-designed Class, 12 of which saw service as RFA’s. The final unit in the Class was completed as a Submarine Rescue Vessel under the White Ensign. All were basically similar and were used as Ocean Salvage Ships. They had a complement of 72 and during wartime were armed with 4 x 20 mm AA guns.


9 February 1943 Launched by Cammell Laird & Co Ltd, Birkenhead as Yard Nr: 1111 named SALVEDA

 1943 Mr Gwilym Williams appointed as Chief Engineer Officer

15 May 1943 completed and placed under management of Liverpool and Glasgow Salvage Association

16 June 1943 sailed Liverpool in convoy KMS17 destination Algiers via Gibraltar which also contained RFA’s ABBEYDALE, ORANGELEAF (1) and SALVESTOR and HM tugs JAUNTY and NIMBLE at times

August 1943 Joined Convoy MKS 23 from Alexandria for the Malta to Bizerta leg, .which also contained RFA DERWENTDALE (1) and the salvage vessel HMS SALVESTOR 

10 August 1943 Diver John Hendriksen discharged dead. He is buried in Syracuse War Cemetery, Sicily



17 September 1943 sailed from Palermo Harbour, Italy with USS SC-1029 to join with US Fleet tug Narraganett (AT-88) and towed HMS Warspite in the Messina Strait, Italy to Malta after the battleship had been hit by glider bombs arriving on 19 September 1943. During the tow to the south of the Messina Straits all lines bar one parted and HMS Warspite drifted beam on



16 October 1943 in Salarno Harbour, Italy with USS Narraganett (AT-88) alongside


21 October 1943 at Augusta, Sicily with USS Moreno (AT-87) towing pontoons and escorted by a British armed trawler - passed through the Straits of Messina to the Gulf of Naples. Subject to an enemy air attack while anchored in the Gulf of Naples

13 November 1943 sailed Gibraltar in convoy MKS30 destination the Mersey.

December 1943 towed HMS CHANTICLEER (with it's stern blown off) from Ponta Delgardo to Horta in the Azores

HMS Chanticleer 1943 IWM FL 7853

© IWM FL7853

19 December 1943 Fireman William Joseph Robb discharged dead. He is buried in Belfast (Milltown) Roman Catholic Cemetery

Robb 1

15 May 1945 Captain Thomas J McGarry, Rigger Martin Daly, Able Seaman George Speakman and Chief Mechanician Ronald Maughan each awarded a Mention in Despatches for services during the build up to Normandy and for salvage opeations - details published in the London Gazette of to-days date

June 1945 steamship Fort La Prairie went ashore on Little Skerry. Towed off by Salveda assisted by local fishermen

30 September 1946 together with Salvestor and Lifeline offered by the Admiralty for charter by commercial salvage companies - reported in the Times of this date on page 8

27 February 1947 chartered by Metal Industries (Salvage) Ltd, Faslane, name unchanged

18 April 1947 sailed Campbelltown to provide assistance and towage to the American Steamer Robert H Harrison which had lost her propeller in the Atlantic off the Mizzen Head on the Irish Coast. RFA TURMOIL (under commercial charter) was also attending

25 December 1947 attended a coaster Adherance (214 tons) which was taking in water in heavy seas and was beached on Ailsa Craig. Refloated her and managed to get her to Lamlash, Isle of Arran

11 January 1948 MV Veni hit the Balach Rocks a reef 2 miles off Ardnave Point, Colonsay. Crew saved. Salveda attended scene but concluded the ship was beyond salvage and she sank in 18 - 20 meters of water off the Balach Rocks

28 January 1948 sailed to the British Motor Vessel Edenvale which was aground on the Tuscar Rock off Wexford, Eire. The steamer Nugget took the Edenvale in tow to Rosslare Harbour assisted by the Rosslare's lifeboat.

30 June 1948 attempted to free the American Liberty Ship Thomas Jefferson with a cargo of iron ore which had run aground on Seal Skerry, Orkney on 28 June 1948

7 August 1948 took part in operations to refloat the Panamanian ship Bellavista which was aground on Papa Westray

12 August 1948 twelve of the crew were paid off after complaining of overwork and a new crew was recruited from Shetland and Faslane

24 August 1948 sailed to the Icelandic vessel Foldin which suffered engine defects while on passage from Iceland to Hull when about 90 miles off the Butt of Lewis

26 August 1948 arrived at the Aberdeen Bar with the ship Foldin in tow

25 October 1948 sailed Kirkwall, Orkney to give help to the London steamer Lord Cochrane which was in need of assistance in heavy seas to the North of Scotland. The steamer cancelled the request for help

26 October 1948 berthed at Kirkwall

17 July 1950 towed ss LORENCO MARHES off Trevose Head - HMS Burghhead Bay stood by during tow

24 September 1950 sailed Gibraltar towing home for scrap the hulk of the mined destroyer HMS SAUMAREZ which had been towed there from Malta by HMS (later to become RFA) BUSTLER

12 October 1950 arrived Charlestown with HMS SAUMAREZ

22 December 1950 standing by the river motor vessel ORINOCO which had been blown ashore in a gale at Lamlash Bay, Isle of Arran

19 January 1951 attended to attempt to salvage the British mv Tapti which had gone aground on rocks between the islands of Coll and Mull, Inner Hebrides and had several of her holds and engine room flooded in bad weather. Her hull was reported as being badly holed

10 January 1952 took in tow the British 656 ton motor tanker Audacity which had been adrift for 24 hours in Cardigan Bay having radioed that her tail shaft was bent, was taking in water and was in need of urgent assistance

29 December 1952 refloated a Finnish cargo ship Margareta which had gone aground on Ailsa Craig and towed her to Lamash Bay.

31 January 1953 joined in rescue operations to save crew and passengers of the ferry Princess Victoria which sank off the County Down coast killing 133. Only 44 were saved but none of the ship‘s Officers were amongst  them nor were any women or children. The Captain saluted as he went down with his ship.

Princess Victoria

Princess Victoria

18 June 1953 divers from the Salveda inspected a damaged American ship Rutgers Victory which ran aground on the Pentland Skerries. The vessel had been refloated and went to Longhope Bay, Scapa Flow for the inspection of her hull. Two of her holds had been damaged below the water line.

25 July 1953 sailed from Scapa Flow to the Norwegian 523 ton sealer Polar Sirkel in the North Sea with engine trouble off Kinnairds Head, near Aberdeen

23 September 1953 Danish cargo steamer Hilde Torm lost her propeller 14 miles off Cape Wrath saved by Salveda who managed to get a line on board when the steamer was only 2 miles off shore. She was towed to the Clyde. Reported on page 6 of the Glasgow Herald on 25 September 1953

15 September 1954 the London collier Borde went aground on Gantocks Rocks, Firth of Clyde. Refloated on 19 September 1954 by the Salveda and the Clyde tug Flying Petrel. Taken to Tail of Bank to anchor and for survey

25 November 1954 sailed Kirkwall to supply assistance to a wooden hulled Danish vessel Svaerdfisken (446 tons) which was adrift in the North Sea 70 miles SEbyS of Lerwick in a gale with her steering gear washed away. She was forced to return to harbour due to heavy seas.

4 December 1954 with the tug Metinda III stood by the front half of the tanker World Concord which had broken in half in a gale and was now aground at the entrance to Strangford Lough. Co Down

22 August 1955 towed British cargo ship Argobeam which had caught fire in the Atlantic at 58.40N 15.14W while on a voyage from Hampton Roads to Copenhagen. The vessel had a 40 degree list.  She arrived at Stonoway, Isle of Lewis on 25 August 1955 to be pumped out and was then towed to Copenhagen. During their time on boardSalveda the crew ofArgobeam smoked a number ofduty-freecigarettes, which were being shipped from theUnited StatestoDenmarkas part ofArgobeam's cargo. The un-smoked cigarettes were declared on arrival atBroad Bay,Isle of Lewis, and initially no action was taken. AsSalveda was considered to be "British soil" byHM Customs and Exciseand not entitled to have duty-free goods on board, officials later demanded the surrender of the un-smoked cigarettes and demanded£7 7s 3dinduty. Captain Watson paid the duty himself, pledging to fight for the return of the money

10 November 1955 the Swedish motor ship Karmas ran aground at the mouth of the River Tees. The ship was loaded with ore. Some 3,000 tons were jettisoned and the ship was towed off by the Salveda.

23 December 1955 attended the ship Cyprian Coast which was involved in a collision and sank at Newcastle Quay

17 July 1956 attempted to tow the Norwegian 816 ton m/v Doulas off rocks when she ran aground in thick fog a mile from Maiden Island, Co Antrim. The attempt was unsuccessful and the cargo of paper pulp was being jettisoned before a second attempt was being tried

24 December 1956 along with RFA SEA SALVOR and a French LCT, they were the only salvage ships allowed by the Egyptians to carry on with wreck clearance work at Port Said after Operation Musketeer - the Suez Crisis. Towed a salvaged crane from Port Said to Malta

5 November 1957 the German ship Renata Schroder of Bremen towed into Ardrossan Harbour after the ships steering gear broke down. Reported on page 9 of the Glasgow Herald of 6 November 1957

3 March 1959 sailed the Clyde to Freswick, south of Skiza Head, Wick to a Swedish cargo ship Stellatus which had gone aground in thick haze some 120 yards off shore. The Stellatus broke in half and sank in deep water

27 October 1959 sailed the Clyde to attempt to assist in the salvage of a 941 ton German motor vessel Heinrich Sieghold which had run aground on rocks at Loch Soresort after dragging her anchor in heavy weather

6 September 1960 at Devonport on expiry of charter

September 1966 laid up at Loch Ewe

February 1972 Purchased by Pounds Shipowners and Shipbreakers Ltd, Portsmouth then resold to G. Vamvounakis, Piraeus

Additional information

Copyright © 2008 – 2018 Christopher J White

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