Requisitioned Auxiliary – Desabla




© Simon Bang acknowledged


Official Number:                      133159

Laid down:

Builder:                                  Hawthorn Leslie & Co Ltd, Hebburn

Launched:                              18 September 1913

Into Service:                           1914

Out of service:                        13 June 1915

Fate:                                     13 June 1915  sunk by gunfire and scuttled


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:

18 September 1913 launched by Hawthorn Leslie & Co Ltd, Hebburn as Yard Nr: 461 named DESABLA for Bank Line (Andrew Weir & Co, Managers) London

26 November 1913 sailed the Tyne on builders trials returning to Hebburn the same day

28 November 1913 the Jarrow Express reported –


28 11 13 Jarrow Express desabla


29 November 1913 sailed North Shields

14 February 1914 sailed Antofagasta, Chile to San Pedro, California

3 June 1914 sailed Vancouver, Canada

12 October 1914 transitted the Panama Canal while on passage from Rio De Janeiro, Brazil to San Perdo, California

1914  requisitioned for Admiralty service as an oiler, name unchanged

5 January 1915 undocked by Hawthorn Leslie & Co Ltd, Hebburn after being repainted and under gone small repairs – Source Newcastle Journal 6 January 1915 on page 7

13 June 1915 in the North Sea while on passage from Port Arthur, Texas to Hull with a cargo of linseed oil was attacked by gunfire from U-17 (KptLt Hans Walther) and was abandoned. Scuttling charges were placed and she sank in position 56.54.54N 01.47.18W, 15 miles E of Tod Head Point. There was no loss of life

15 June 1915 the Yorkshire Post reported –


15 6 1915 Yorkshire Post Desabla


An except from the Admiralty report on this loss said –

Admiralty Oiler Transport No: 63 when the German Submarine U17 was seen right astern, gaining rapidly on the Steamship. The Master endeavoured to keep the vessel astern marking various violent changes of course, but the submarine was much faster and rapidly took up a position close to the ship.

The Enemy commenced to shell the Desabla at 07:20am and kept up a continual fire at her from a Deck Gun. Realising that escape was impossible, the ships Master stopped his engine and ordered all hands into the Boats, which were successfully lowered at 08:20am, allowing all the crew to escape safely. Shortly after the enemy fired a torpedo into the ship at 08:30 am, but as she did not sink immediately some members of the crew went aboard her, preumably to place explosive charges and to loot her. When last seen by the Master at 12:30pm, his ship was sinking fast and the Submarine had submerged out of sight. The survivors were picked up by the armed trawlers at 3.30pm and taken ashore.

18 June 1915 the New York Times reported –

NY Times 18 June 1815