RFA Wave Duke



Previous name:                      Empire Mars

Official Number:                     180153  

Class:                                    WAVE CLASS  Freighting Oiler (unmodified) 

Pennant No:                           X138 / A246

Laid down:
Builder:                                  Laings, Deptford Yard, Sunderland
Launched:                             16 November 1944
Into Service:                          16 November 1946
Out of service:                        30 April 1960
Fate:                                     Broken Up


Items of historic interest involving this ship: -


Background Data:  A need for fast tankers to bring oil into the country had been envisaged early in the Second World War, but by the time the material had been collected and the Yards had space to build them, the need had largely passed and the original design of diesel-engined ships was abandoned. Instead, the standard 12000t Class being built were given sharper bows and sterns and turbine engines with water tube boilers. In all, 21 of this type were built and were offered to the Admiralty, who wanted faster tankers for the Pacific Fleet Train. The Admiralty took 20 of them (the final vessel being completed commercially for Oil and Molasses Tankers Ltd, London as BEECHWOOD) and renamed them with the WAVE nomenclature. Performance varied considerably from ship to ship and they underwent various modifications in their rigs for RAS work. The 8 best ones were finally given an extensive refit, with extra accommodation added to the Bridge Deck and extra turbo cargo pumps and derricks to make them more satisfactory for Fleet work. Initially expensive to run, they recouped some of their expensive repair bills by earning revenues from charter work after the Korean War. From this Class was evolved the TIDE CLASS oilers.


16 November 1944 launched by Sir James Laing & Sons Ltd, Deptford Yard, Sunderland as Yard Nr: 755 named EMPIRE MARS for the MoWT. Cost £230,926.00 (source contract letter in Tyne & Wear Archives)

20 November 1944 towed from Sunderland to the Tyne arriving on 21 November 1944

17 January 1945 sailed the Tyne to Sunderland arriving on 21 January 1945

18 April 1945 sailed from the Tyne in convoy FS1785 to Southend arriving on 20 April 1945

22 April 1945 sailed Southend in a Liverpool convoy UC65A to New York arriving on 5 May 1945. This convoy also contained EMPIRE PALADIN (later RFA WAVE COMMANDER) and EMPIRE SALISBURY (later RFA WAVE MASTER)

10 May 1945 sailed New York in convoy CU69 to the Downs arriving 21 May 1945 passing Southend the same day and arriving Gravesend 25 May 1945 with EMPIRE PALADIN (later RFA WAVE COMMANDER) bound Liverpool

2 June 1945 sailed Gravesend independently to Delaware Capes arriving on 11 June 1945

15 June 1945 sailed Delaware Capes independently passing the Downs on 25 June 1945 and anchoring in the the Thames Estuary the next day. To the Isle of Grain to discharge.

25 June 1945 sailed the Isle of Grain to the Tyne arriving on 29 June 1945

30 June 1945 under repair on the Tyne which was completed on 1 September 1945

2 September 1945 sailed the Tyne to Curacao

19 September 1945 sailed Curacao to Cristobal arriving on 22 September 1945

22 September 1945 transited the Panama Canal

22 September 1945 sailed Balboa to Melbourne, Australia arriving 15 October 1945

19 October 1945 sailed Melbourne, Australia for Abadan arriving 6 November 1945

10 November 1945 sailed Abadan to Suez arriving on 19 November 1945

20 November 1945 sailed Port Said to Malta arriving on 23 November 1945

30 November 1945 sailed Malta to Suez arriving 4 December 1945

4 December 1945 sailed Suez to Abadan arriving 12 December 1945

7 December 1945 passed Aden

14 December 1945 sailed Abadan to Singapore arriving 25 December 1945

1 January 1946 at Singapore for repairs

1 March 1946 arrived at Hong Kong

18 July 1946 passed the Lloyds Signal Station on the Lizard sailing westbound from Devonport to Cardiff

8 August 1946 the Shields Daily News reported -


Press report 9 8 46 Empire Mars Shields Daily News


16 November 1946 acquired for the Admiralty and renamed Wave Duke

18 February 1947 arrived at Aden

20 February 1947 sailed Aden for Abadan

24 April 1947 sailed Port Said for Abadan

6 May 1947 sailed Abadan

15 May 1947 at Suez

14 June 1947 berthed at No: 2 Tier, Jarrow Slake, River Tyne

16 August 1947 passed Aden

11 September 1947 sailed Abadan

23 September 1947 sailed from Port Said

4 October 1947 berthed at Portsmouth Harbour

6 October 1947 sailed from Portsmouth Harbour

29 January 1948 Mr George McBain RFA appointed as Chief Engineer Officer. He remained on the ship until 18 December 1950

13 March 1948 sailed Curacao

15 April 1948 sailed Curacao for LEFO

29 July 1948 was involved in a collision in thick fog about 50 miles south east of Land's End with the British steamer Esperance Bay which was bound for Brisbane, Australia. Both vessels suffered slight damage and no one was hurt. The Esperance Bay returned to Southampton for examination

Esperance Bay

ss Esperance Bay

30 July 1948 berthed at Portsmouth Harbour

4 August 1948 sailed from Portsmouth Harbour

2 September 1948 Captain Ernest W J Rousell RFA appointed as Master

Captain Ernest WIlliam ROUSELL

Captain Ernest W J Rousell RFA
early in his career at sea

5 October 1948 passed the Lloyds signal station at Gibraltar sailing eastwards

10 October 1948 arrived at Malta from Devonport

20 October 1948 passed Aden for Abadan

24 December 1948 passed Aden

4 June 1949 berthed at Portsmouth Harbour

9 June 1949 sailed from Portsmouth Harbour

21 August 1949 arrived at Suez

4 September 1949 passed Aden

24 September 1949 sailed Port Said

3 November 1949 Captain Richard L Barber MID RD RFA (Commander RNR) appointed as Master until 1 December 1949

13 December 1949 Captain Richard L Barber MID RD RFA (Commander RNR) appointed as Master

19 December 1949 passed Gibraltar when on passage from Devonport

22 December 1949 arrived at Malta

23 December 1949 sailed Malta

26 December 1949 while on passage from Devonport to Abadan arrived at Port Said

27 December 1949 sailed Suez for Abadan

3 January 1950 Captain Percivale H Brooke OBE RFA appointed as Master


Captain Percivale H Brooke OBE RFA

19 January 1950 reported as being within wireless range of Australia

26 January 1950 while on passage to Adelaide and Melbourne from Abadan anchored in Gage Roads, Fremantle to land a sick seaman. Having landed the seaman continued with her voyage to Adelaide

30 January 1950 berthed at Adelaide

3 February 1950 arrived Melbourne, Australia from Abadan to discharge

7 February 1950 sailed Melbourne for Abadan

22 May 1950 berthed at Portsmouth Harbour

27 May 1950 sailed from Portsmouth Harbour

25 June 1950 to 27 July 1953 saw service during the Korean War along with 18 other RFA‘s

9 July 1950 while on passage from Abadan to Devonport arrived at Port Said

19 July 1950 at Plymouth

1 August 1950 from Devonport arrived at Port Said

2 August 1950 arrived at Suez

12 August 1950 berthed at Abadan

11 December 1950 berthed at Portsmouth Harbour

16 December 1950 sailed from Portsmouth Harbour

18 December 1950 at Newcastle upon Tyne

21 December 1950 Mr H C A Brain RFA appointed as Chief Engineer Officer

16 January 1951 berthed at Palmers Yard at Hebburn, River Tyne

20 February 1951 sailed Suez

2 March 1951 arrived at Abadan

3 March 1951 sailed Abadan for Aden

8 March 1951 arrived at Aden

18 March 1951 arrived at Abadan

21 March 1951 sailed Abadan

31 May 1951 arrived Abadan

2 June 1951 sailed Abadan for Singapore

3 July 1951 in Singapore outer Roads

6 March 1952 arrived the River Tyne

19 April 1952 berthed at Palmers (Hebburn) on the River Tyne for repairs or refit

1 May 1952 sailed the River Tyne for Curacao

3 January 1953 at Portland, Maine, USA Lascar Seaman Rama Raghow discharged dead - natural causes - heart attack

18 April 1953 Captain Stanley C Kernick RFA appointed as Master

27 April 1953 Mr Lionel W Pool RFA appointed as Chief Engineer Officer

7 May 1953 arrived Smith Docks for refit on the River Tyne from Avonmouth

12 June 1953 at North Shields Shipping Office signed on new members of the crew

24 June 1953 sailed the River Tyne for Sheerness

28 July 1953 sailed Bombay

12 August 1953 berthed at Darwin, Australia

23 September 1953 sailed Singapore Roads to Kure, Japan

18 October 1953 arrived Trincomalee

22 November 1953 in the Arabian Sea Seaman 1st Class Baboo Sonya discharged dead - drowned

13 January 1954 at Swansea Secunny Email Eusoff discharged dead - natural causes

22 February 1954 sailed Suez

28 May 1954 arrived at the River Tyne from Swansea

28 June 1954 Mr Robert A Higgie RFA appointed as Chief Engineer Officer

CEO Robert A Higgie

Chief Engineer Officer Robert A Higgie RFA

14 July 1954 sailed the River Tyne for Bahrein

13 January 1955 two RAF Shackleton aircraft were reported overdue from a training flight over the Atlantic. Diverted to join in the search for them

6 February 1955 passed the Lloyds Signal Station at Dover sailing east bound

25 June 1955 berthed at Smith's Dock, River Tyne

11 January 1956 Captain Walter L Holtam RFA appointed as Master

Captain W. L HOLTAM

Captain Walter L Holtam RFA

15 July 1956 Mr A M Evans RFA appointed as Chief Engineer Officer

28 August 1956 berthed at Swan Hunter (Walker), River Tyne

16 October 1956 berthed on the Admiralty Quay, River Tyne

7 February 1957 Captain Allistoun M Macquire-Samson RFA appointed as Master

25 March 1957 sailed Houston for the U.K. with a full cargo of oil and struck a submerged wreck in the Houston Channel  and sustained damage. She was still in the Channel 2 weeks later having transhipped her cargo to RFA DERWENTDALE (1)

17 October 1957 arrived at the River Tyne berthing on the Admiraltry Buoys

29 October 1957 berthed on the Admiralty Quay, River Tyne with RFA RESURGENT

16 November 1957 berthed on the Admiralty Quay, River Tyne with RFA WAVE EMPEROR

24 December 1957 berthed on the Admiralty Quay, River Tyne with RFA WAVE COMMANDER

27 December 1957 Mr J P Mair RFA appointed as Chief Engineer Officer

21 March 1958 South East of Tyne Piers Seaman 1st Class Abdoolla Hasson discharged dead - found hanged

22 April 1958 berthed on the Admiralty Quay, River Tyne with RFA TIDEREACH

27 May 1958 still berthed on the Admiralty Quay, River Tyne but now without RFA TIDEREACH

26 August 1958 Captain Edmund H Butterworth RFA appointed as Master



Captain Edmund H Butterworth RFA


6 November 1958 Mr F Barclay RFA appointed as Chief Engineer Officer

4 January 1959 sailed Aruba for Invergordon

19 May 1959 arrived at Malta from Gibraltar

13 August 1959 arrived Malta from Bahrein

18 August 1959 sailed Malta for the UK

30 April 1960 destored and laid up at Devonport

1961 still laid up but had been moved to Rosyth

1 November 1969 offered for sale 'as lying' at Devonport Dockyard in the Times of this day

Press cutting Times WLaird WDuke Surf Patrol 1969

25 December 1969 arrived Bilbao, Spain for breaking up by Hierros Ardes

Additional information

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