RFA Black Ranger 69-70
The Adventures of a Conway Lad on RFA Black Ranger 1969-70
Pennant No. A 163 International Callsign GWKT Registered LONDON
Previous Name N/A Lloyds Identity No. 5045938
Builder Harland & Wolff Ltd, Govan, Glasgow.
Launched 22nd August 1940 Completed 28th January 1941
Displacement (Light-ship) 3141 tons (Loaded) 6,630 tons.
Measurement Tonnage N.R.T. 1,552 G.R.T. 3,440 DWT 3,489
Dimensions Length O.A. 366 ft. Beam 47 ft. Draft 20 ft.
Main Machinery 1 x Burmeister & Wain 6 cylinder marine diesel engine. Built by Harland & Wolff
Single shaft. Speed 12 knots.
Ships Badge Granted in 1964. For some unknown reason (to me), only three “Rangers” out of the class of six ships were granted badges. They were the “BLACK”, “BLUE” and “GOLD”. The badge for the “BLACK RANGER” was a vertically mounted salmon fishing fly on a white background.
Remarks A Small Replenishment Tanker. She was the sister-ship of, and has the same details as the “BROWN RANGER” mentioned earlier in this collection of memories.
The large forecastle area of this class allowed for an enclosed and covered ‘garage’ area on the starboard side, originally intended as a stowage for a 9 ton fuel barge. Large water-tight doors would allow the barge to be drawn out onto the tank deck along a short trackway. It would then be lifted overboard by the ship’s derrick and secured alongside, where it would be loaded with aircraft fuel from the ship’s cargo tanks. The barge concept was designed and intended for the refuelling of flying-boats. However, no barges were ever loaded on board or deployed from the “Rangers” and the space was used for storage of drummed oil or other purposes.
After war service with the Russian convoys, “BLACK RANGER” was stationed for most of the remainder of her life at Portland Naval Base, as part of the resident Training Squadron.
She was sold in July 1973 to Greek owners ‘Diana Shipping & Trading Corporation SA, (John S.Latsis), of Piraeus, and renamed “Petrola XIV”. The name was modified in 1976 to “Petrola 14”.
She was finally broken up between May – August 1983, at Piraeus by Chalivdeboriki Ltd.
30th December 1969 to 23rd January 1970
This was to be another brief appointment, but this time rather busier.
“Black Ranger” was the regular ‘Portland Tanker’, carrying out training duties, week in, week out, for the staff of Flag Officer Sea Training, (FOST). The day to day work was described earlier, in the narrative for “Brown Ranger”, during her stint at Portland. Life on board was quite straight forward, with all the crew very competent at their well practised tasks. Many of them had been on the ship for some considerable time and lived in the Portland area. The working hours during the week could be quite long, with exercises lasting well into or throughout the night.
You learnt a whole new language of naval words, phrases and acronyms whilst working at Portland. For example, ‘PIAWPO’, meaning Proceed in accordance with previous orders, ‘NAVEX’, = Navigation Exercise, ‘RAS Corridor’ = the sea-lane through the Portland exercise areas for replenishment serials, ‘PBL’ was Portland Bill Lighthouse, ‘RHOC’ meant Return to harbour on completion, (always a popular one), ‘RASON’ = Remain at sea overnight, (not so popular), not to be confused with ‘RASEX’ = Replenishment exercise and many more that I have now forgotten. Weekends were usually spent alongside ‘Q’ Pier or the ‘Coaling Pier’, with a bit of time to relax.
After just over three weeks of replenishments, being towed hither and thither, boarded and interrogated, being invaded by naval fire parties and numerous other naval exercises I left the ship at Portland for a period of time at home, enjoying the relative peace and quiet of the company of my baby son!