Requisitioned Auxiliary – Beacon Light




Beaconlight 01


Official Number:                       97773

Laid down:

Builder:                                    W.G. Armstrong, Mitchell & Co Ltd, Low Walker

Launched:                               10 March 1890

Into Service:                            1914

Out of service:                         1918

Fate:                                         19 February 1918 torpedoed and sunk 


Items of historic interest involving this ship: –


Background Data:  One of an additional group of ships requisitioned by the Admiralty during WW1 to augment the ships of the RFA


Career Data:

10 March 1890 launched by W.G. Armstrong, Mitchell & Co Ltd, Low Walker as Yard Nr: 559 named BEACON LIGHT for Stewart SS Co Ltd. (R Stewart & Co, Managers) Liverpool

12 March 1890 the Lloyds List newspaper reported – 


12 3 1890 Lloyds List Beacon Light


April 1890 completed

3 May 1890 sailed from the River Tyne for New York

21 May 1890 the Lloyds List newspaper reported a collision –


21 5 1890 Lloyds List Beacon Light collision


26 June 1890 the Lloyds List newspaper reported a change of ownership –


26 6 1890 Lloyds List Beacon Light change of ownership


12 April 1892 while entering Danzig was in collision with the German steamer Bernhard. Damage unknown

21 September 1892 at sea at 36°20N 20°00E Asst Steward James Carey discharged dead – consumption

25 February 1893 arrived at Batoum

11 June 1893 passed Dover sailing east bound

19 October 1893 sailed New York for Dover

30 January 1895 while on passage from New York to Bremerhaven in the English Channel lost her propellor near the North Sand Head Lightship

25 April 1895 a claim was heard in the Admiralty Division of the High Court –


Shields Gazette 26 April 1895

Press report from the Shields Gazette 26 April 1895


13 November 1895 grounded in the River Elbe but managed to get off and berth safely at Hamburg

6 March 1896 at Jarrow on Tyne Police Court the ship’s Donkeyman – James Joyce appeared charged with stealing 9sh 9d from another crew member. On being convicted it was reported to the Court that Joyce had a previous conviction for housebreaking. He was remanded in custody

1899 purchased by Bear Creek Oil & Shipping Co Ltd (C.T. Bowring & Co Ltd, Managers) Liverpool name unchanged

26 August 1901 while on passage from Philadelphia to the River Tyne Fireman Robert Youist discharged dead – apparently threw himself overboard


Press report Beacon Light 2

Press report from Coventry Evening Telegraph of 25 September 1901


26 February 1902 at Albert Edward Dock, North Shields Fireman John O’Donnell discharged dead – shot

17 March 1902 at North Shields Police Court Fireman Charles Brown was committed for trial at the next Assizes charged with the murder of Fireman John O’Donnell by shooting him with a revolver


 Press report Beacon Light 3

Press Report from the Shields Daily Gazette of 18 March 1902


12 July 1902 at Newcastle Assizes before Mr Justice Gainford Bruce and a jury Fireman Charles Brown was charged on indictment with murder (see Press reports above). He was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 4 months imprisonment


 Morpeth Herald 12-7-02 Beacon Light 

Press report from the Morpeth Herald


10 May 1903 at sea at 46°47N 24°06W Fireman James Melia discharged dead – natural causes

5 January 1905 berthed at Copenhagen from Philadelphia to discharge her cargo of oil

7 January 1905 sailed Copenhagen for South Shields. Captain John G Kell was the Master. During the crossing of the North Sea very heavy weather was experienced and flooding occured in the engine room and stoke hold.

11 January 1905 the engines were stopped due to a shortage of bunkers between 11.10am & 10.20pm

12 January 1905 the ship grounded and the next day was abandoned by the crew

15 March 1905 to 20 March 1905 a formal investigation into the stranding of the Beacon Light took place at Liverpool before Judge W J Stewart and Assessors

2 May 1906 arrived at Batoum

29 December 1906 sailed from Hamburg for the River Tyne

10 June 1910 at Newport, Wales from Philadelphia – one passenger. Captain  J Marshall was Master

4 March 1913 off the Goodwin Sands in collision with the German Barque Anna. The Beacon Light suffered serious damage to her bows and anchored off Dover

9 October 1913 at Sea Able Seaman George Green discharged dead – drowned

WW1 requisitioned for Admiralty service as an oiler, name unchanged

24 September 1914 between Halifax and New York met HMS CARONIA and exchanged signals

10 October 1914 while on passage from New York to Falmouth off Queenstown met HMS VENUS and exchanged signals





21 November 1914 off New York met HMS SUFFOLK and exchanged signals

18 August 1915 in the Indian Ocean met HMS LAURENTIC and exchanged signals

19 February 1918 was torpedoed and sunk by U-91 in the North Minch, 15 miles SE from the Butt of Lewis while on passage from Liverpool to Scapa Flow with a cargo of oil with the loss of 33 lives including that of her Master. The memory of 30 of those lost are recorded with pride on the Tower Hill Memorial and 3 are recorded on the Plymouth Naval Memorial