"RFA" Surf Pilot


As Kuroshio Maru - pre World War 2

Previous name:                               Kuroshio Maru,  Yung Hao, HMS Yung Hao

Official Number:                              45674 as YUNG HAO                                                                           

Laid down:                                      21 January 1938
Builder:                                            Harima Zosensho KK, Harima, Tokyo
Launched:                                       8 December 1938
Into Service:                                    Never entered RFA service
Out of service:
Fate:                                                March 1960 - broken up (but see below)


Items of historic interest involving this ship: -


Background Data:  Two sister ships in this Class (RFA Surf Patrol and RFA Surf Pioneer) were originally ordered by Polish owners and both were commandeered by the Admiralty during the Korean War. They were initially used mainly for charter work, then carried Admiralty cargoes for a short while before being placed in reserve. There was to have been a third ship in this Class, to have been named SURF PILOT, which was also requisitioned by the Admiralty during the Korean War to prevent her being used by the Communists. She however commissioned instead as a tender to HMS TERROR at Singapore, before being laid up in very poor condition and she was never used by the RFA


8 December 1938 launched

28 February 1939  completed by Harima Zosensho KK, Harima as Yard Nr 264 named KUROSHIO MARU for Tyugai Kaiun KK, Tokyo or Chigai Kisen KK, Tokyo

15 August 1941 requisitioned by the Imperial Japanese Navy

22 August 1941 undergoes conversion at Tama Zosen shipyard

5 September 1941 registered as an auxiliary oil transport in the Sasebo Naval District

17 October 1941 completes conversion. Later, attached to the Combined Fleet

30 November 1941 sails Sasebo

8 December 1941 at Pulau Condore Island, Indochina on replenishment duty

28 December 1941 arrives at Mako

5 January 1942 sails Mako

16 February 1942 berths Sasebo, then to Kawasaki shipbuilding, Kobe. Undergoes refit . Assigned to the Ministery of the Navy

30 March 1942 Imperial Japanese Navy charter is terminated. Chartered by the Imperial Japanese Army Later enters dock at Harima ZoseC

September 1942 employed on feeder service for Imperial Japanese Army between Singapore and Sumatra

18 December 1942 sails Saeki in Transportation Movement No. 8

10 January 1943 arrives at Rabaul

5 March 1943 at anchor at Palembang

7 March 1943 sails Palembang

9 March 1943 berths at Singapore

19 March 1943 arrives at Palembang probably from Singapore accompanied by tanker KIKUSUI MARU

18 April 1943 arrives at Palembang

21 April 1943 sails Palembang

22 April 1943 berthed at Singapore

1943 ownership transferred to Towa Kisen K.K

15 June 1943 sails Sasebo

18 June 1943 at Takao

4 July 1943 sails Singapore in convoy No. 615 escorted and consisting of KUROSHIO, KINUGASA, KIRISHIMA, OMUROSAN, TEIKO, KACHIDOKI, AKI and MIIKE MARUs 

5 July 1943 at Miri, Borneo

6 July 1943 at St Jacques, Indochina sailing the next day

11 July 1943 at Mako; sails the day and arrives at Takao

17 July 1943 at Ujina. Later docked for repairs by Hitachi Zosen

27 December 1943 sails Osaka

28 December 1943 at Iwakuni. Loads 12 aircraft on board and sails to  Iwakuni

29 December 1943 arrives at Moji. Loads troops and military cargo

31 December 1943 sails Moji in convoy HI-29 escorted by kaibokan SADO 

4 January 1944 convoy HI-29 arrives at Takao

6 January 1944 convoy HI-29 sails to Manila

9 January 1944 convoy HI-29 arrives at Manila

10 January 1944 sails Manila

16 January 1944 berths at Singapore. Loads amphibious troops and military cargo, and 16,000 cubic liters of crude oil

25 January 1944 sails Singapore for Moji in convoy HI-32  escorted by escort carrier CHITOSE and destroyer YUKIKAZE

4 February 1944 berths at Moji and loads water

5 February 1944 berths at Omishima. Discharges 16,000 cubic liters crude oil and 3000 cubic liters of fuel oil

7 February 1944 sails Omishima

8 February 1944 berths at  Iwakuni. Loads 3,000 cubic liters of fuel oil and 10 aircraft

11 February 1944 sails Iwakuni for Moji

16 February 1944 sails Moji for Singapore in convoy HI-45 escorted by destroyer SHIOKAZE.

21 February 1944 suffers engine trouble and is detached for Takao, Formosa

28 February 1944 sails Takao in convoy HI-47 escorted by Kaibokan ETOROFU, SADO and IKI

5 March 1944 berths at Singapore and loads amphibious troops and military cargo, and 16,500 cubic liters of crude oil

11 March 1944 sails Singapore for Moji in convoy HI-48 escorted by kaibokan MIYAKE, SHIMUSHU and IKI

14 March 1944 berths at Van Phong Bay, French Indochina

15 March 1944 sails Van Phong Bay -  suffers an engine breakdown and has to put into St Jacques

20 March 1944 sails St Jacques

24 March 1944 berths at Manila

27 March 1944 sails Manila

30 March 1944 berths at Takao and loads water

1 April 1944 sails Takao

2 April 1944 arrives at Mako

4 April 1944 sails Mako as part of convoy HI-50 escorted by destroyer SHIOKAZE and Kaibokan SADO

8 April 1944 berths at Iwakuni (Marifu refinery). Discharges 16,500 cubic liters of crude oil

12 April 1944 sails Iwakuni (Marifu)

14 April 1944 berthed at Omishima. Loads 3500 cubic litres of fuel oil

15 April 1944 sails Omishima and arrived at Iwakuni the same day. Loads 3500 cubic litres of fuel oil

18 April 1944 sails Iwakuni and berths at Kobe the same day

9 July 1944 refit completed - undocked. Sails Kobe and arrives at Iwakuni

10 July 1944 loads 10 aircraft and 300 tons of aircraft spares

12 July 1944 sails Iwakuni and arrives at Moji and loads 3,000 drums and embarks 483 IJA soldiers

13 July 1944 sails Moji for Singapore in convoy HI-69  escorted by escort carriers TAIYO and KAIYO, light cruiser KASHII and kaibokan CHIBURI, SADO, CD-7 and CD-17. TAIYO and KAIYO are loaded with aircraft for Luzon. SHINYO conducts air patrols

20 July 1944 berthed at Manila

25 July 1944 sails Manila for Singapore in HI-69 escorted by escort carrier SHINYO, light cruiser KASHII and kaibokan CHIBURI, SADO, CD-7, CD-9, CD-13 and CD-17

31 July 1944 berthed at Singapore and loads 14,590 cubic litres of fuel oil

4 August 1944 sails Singapore for Moji in convoy HI-70 escorted by escort carrier SHINYO, light cruiser KASHII, destroyer SHIMOTSUKI and kaibokan CHIBURI, SADO, CD-13 and CD-19

15 August 1944 berthed at Moji and discharges cargo

19 August 1944 sails Moji

20 August 1944 berthed at Iwakuni. Loads 8 aircraft and military equipment. The same day, sails Iwakuni and arrives at Ujina. Loads water

21 August 1944 sails Ujina

22 August 1944 berthed at Moji. Loads 250 tons of cement and 380 passengers

25 August 1944 sails Moji for Singapore in convoy HI-73 escorted by escort carrier UNYO, light cruiser KASHII and kaibokan CHIBURI, CD-1, CD-13, CD-19, CD-21 and CD-27. she carries 47 passengers

30 August 1944 berths at Takao, Formosa. apparently with engine trouble

14 September 1944 sails for Singapore with other ships escorted by escort carrier SHINYO, flying boat tender AKITSUSHIMA, DesDiv 30’s YUZUKI and UZUKI and kaibokan KANJU, MIYAKE and MANJU

20 September 1944 suffer engine problems, but the convoy remains intact

22 September 1944 berths at Singapore and loads 12,000 tons of oil, materials and troops

2 October 1944 sails Singapore for Moji in convoy HI-76 escorted by escort carrier SHINYO and kaibokan DAITO, KANJU, MANJU, MIYAKE, KURAHASHI, CD-9 and CD-28 and torpedo boat HIYODORI

10 October 1944 after receiving reports of an American task force striking Okinawa, convoy HI-76 diverts to Samah, Hainan Island

11 October 1944 arrives at Samah

18 October 1944 the convoy now escorted by escort carrier SHINYO and kaibokan KANJU, CD-8 and CD-32

21 October 1944 sails Mako for Moji

11 November 1944 at Singapore which suffered Allied air attacks - loads 11,500 tons of crude oil and 2,000 tons of machine oil

17 November 1944 sails Singapore in convoy HI-80 escorted by light cruiser KASHII (F), with Rear Admiral Yoshitomi Setsuzo, C-in-C, 5th Escort Group embarked, kaibokan MANJU, NOMI, KASADO, MIYAKE, UKURU, CD-17, CD-23 and CD-51 and minelayer NIIZAKI

4 December 1944 convoy HI-80 arrives at Sasebo and later at Moji

7 December 1944 sails Moji

11 December 1944 berthed at Kobe and later that day at Hikoshima

12 December 1944 enters dock at Kawasaki Heavy Industries for engine repairs

26 December 1944 undocked

27 December 1944 sails Kobe

31 December 1944 sails Moji in convoy HI-87 on the first part of its route via Formosa to Hong Kong and Singapore escorted by destroyers YUKIKAZE, SHIGURE, HATAKAZE and DesDiv17’s HAMAKAZE and ISOKAZE and kaibokan MIKURA, YASHIRO, KURAHASHI and CD-13. Light carrier RYUHO provides air cover

3 January 1945 the convoy anchors temporarily in the Chusan Islands group because of the threat of air attacks on Formosa

5 January 1945 convoy HI-87 departs the Chusan Islands anchorage

9 January 1945 sunk by US carrier-based aircraft at 22°00N, 120°05E in Takao harbour

1 May 1945 removed from the Army List

1946 salvaged and repaired

1947 allocated as a Prize to China for operation by China Merchants Steam Navigation Co, Shanghai. Repaired and rebuilt by Hong Kong & Whampoa Dockyard under ownership of China Tanker Co Ltd

1950 re-entered service named YUNG HAO for the above owners although she was claimed by the People’s Republic of China

12 March 1951 Hong Kong Government holds an emergency Cabinet meeting concering this ship.

16 March 1951 Communist Chinese People's Government Minister for Communications declare that this ship is their property and the British Government would be held accountable for any interference in her movements. The CIA top secret report and cleared for public viewing on 3 January 2002 comments that the ship was manned by a Communist crew and had previously made an unauthorised attempt to sail from Hong Kong and had been detained by the British authorities. A nominal fine had been paid.

12 April 1951 Yung Hao, was requisitioned in Hong Kong to prevent her being used by the Communists by order from the Governor of Hong Kong. Acting on the requisition order the Dockyard Police boarded her - Operation Winkle. The Dockyard Tug Freedom berthed alongside the tanker at 12.02pm The crew and Captain W Y Tsoo offered no resistance. By 1.31pm the crew had packed their possesions and the Chinese flag was lowered by the Deputy Superintendent of the Marine Police. At 2.03pm the crew were leaving the ship. At 2.10pm a Royal Navy Passage crew had boarded the ship. At 3.45pm the Marine Police were clear of the vessel

Yung Hao seized in HK The Mercury Hobart Tas 9th April 1951 snipped

reported in The Mercury newspaper, Tasmania

13 April 1951 she was found to be missing parts of her main engine preventing her sailing under her own power so she was towed to Singapore by RFA SALVALOUR under escort by HMS CHARITY. At 7.15am under way while under tow. At 7.30am was clear of the Harbour. At 10.50am the ocean tow commenced. At 2.15pm the Yung Hao was clear of Colonial waters. During the tow the SALVALOUR and HMS CHARITY were RAS'ed by RFA BROWN RANGER

HMS Charity


13 April 1951 subject to questions being asked in the UK Parliament (reported in Hansard) - the vessel had been seized on directions of the Governor of Hong Kong. It was reported that had the vessel been released it might well have been of assistance to the Chinese and North Korean troops by carrying oil in furtherance of the Korean campaign in which they are fighting the United Nations, including British Forces. In view of the security risks to our own and other United Nations Forces it was important, therefore, not to allow the vessel to proceed to China. The Governor of Hong Kong had power simply to detain the vessel or alternatively to requisition it. In view of our own requirements he decided to requisition

19 April 1951 The Newcastle Sun, an Australia newspaper reported ...


The Newcastle Sun 19 April 1951

24 April 1951 arrived Singapore where it was reported that she was to be made fit to proceed to the UK for eventual service as as a RFA Station Tanker to be renamed SURF PILOT



Surf Pilot visible behind the trees alongside HMS Terror's swimming pool
published with thanks to Peter Maddison, RFA Historical Society member



A further image of Surf Pilot - again behind the trees at HMS Terror
- published again with thanks to Peter Maddison RFA Historical Society member


9 May 1951 instead she was commissioned as tender to HMS TERROR for service in Singapore. It was planned for her to sail to Trincomalee, Ceylon with a load a cargo of FFO and be commissioned as HMS YUNG HAO to facilitate her passage through the Suez Canal to Portsmouth.  Her initial crew was 7 Officers and 71 ratings. Discussion in London were underway for the ship to be renamed as SURF PILOT and possibly be run taken over by the RFA

16 May 1951 sailed Singapore for sea trials. Due to an engine defect off Changi towed back to Singapore Dockyard by three tugs

23 May 1951 sailed Singapore on her 2nd sea trial. Due to her engine bearings over heating off Changi she was towed back to Singapore Dockyard

29 May 1951 sailed Singapore on her 3rd sea trials which were largely successful

31 May 1951 sailed Singapore for Trincomalee, Ceylon but suffered an engine defect off Ponggol Point and returned to Singapore Dockyard

3 June 1951 sailed Singapore initally for Penang at 7 knots

4 June 1951 suffered an engine defect and anchored off Tanjong Tohor - the defect was repaired

5 June 1951 sailed

6 June 1951 suffered a further engine defect and anchored NW of Port Swettenham

10 June 1951 sailed from her anchorage in the company of the Admiralty tug Enigma but suffered further engine defects resulting in her being towed back to Singapore Dockyard


Enigma W175 01

Admiralty tug Enigma


 3 July 1951 after reducing  the crew to care and maintenance the remainder were returned home on the SS Empire Halladale

Empire Halladale 10

SS Empire Halladale

1958 her future was listed as “under consideration“

March 1960 was scuttled off the coast of Malaya at 2°33′N 104°40′E

5 June 1987 an agreement between the British Government and the Government of the People's Republic of China was signed in Beijing, part of which dealt with mutual historical property claims relative to various matters including the requisitioning of the tanker Yung Hao. The agreement reached a final and comprehensive settlement of all claims between the two countries.

21 October 2011 reported that the ship had, in fact, been sunk off Pulau Aur, Malaysia and is currently being dived on by social divers

Enquiries into this continue at the National Archives - TNA050075135

Additional information

Copyright © 2008 – 2018 Christopher J White

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