RFA Danmark




© Handels – og Søfartsmuseet, Danmark


Subsequent name:                         Shelfoil

Official Number:                             168340                                                       

Class:                                            Oil Fuel Hulk

Pennant No:                                   X128

Laid down:
Builder:                                          Burmeister & Wain, Denmark
Launched:                                     15 August 1931
Into Service:                                  October 1942
Out of service:
Fate:                                              Broken up


Items of historic interest involving this ship: –


Background Data:   In her day, at 10,517 grt, this ship had been one of the largest tankers afloat, her owners being a subsidiary of the Standard Oil Company of New Jersey. For a time during WW2, the RFA were operators of half a ship, this fuelling hulk based at Scapa Flow until the base there was closed at the end of the War, when she was sold for commercial bunkering purposes


15 August 1931 launched by Burmeister & Wain Maskin Og Skipsbyggeri Aktieselskabet, Copenhagen as Yard Nr: 348 named DANMARK for D/S A/S “Myren” (Holm &  Wonsild, Managers) Copenhagen

October 1931 completed

4 November 1931 passed Gibraltar west bound

2 December 1931 while on passage from Baton Rouge to Nyborg loaded with 16,000 tons of oil grounded at Knudshead. Reported in Lloyds casualty reports

26 December 1931 sailed from Rotterdam for Hamburg, Germany

11 January 1932 arrived at Port Said

29 January 1932 arrived at Singapore

4 February 1932 arrived at Iloilo

5 February 1932 sailed Iloilo for Hong Kong

8 August 1932 arrived at Singapore from Yokohama, Japan

25 August 1932 sailed Penang for Aden

20 November 1932 arrived New Orleans from Copenhagen

19 December 1932 passed St Catherines Point sailing east bound

9 January 1933 sailed Singapore for Copenhagen

27 January 1933 arrived at Suez

13 March 1933 sailed London for Port Arthur

16 May 1933 arrived Yokohama, Japan from Gothenburg

21 May 1933 sailed Kobe, Japan for Copenhagen

16 June 1933 sailed Penang for Aden

12 November 1933 arrived at Suez when on passage to Hamburg

11 December 1933 passed the Lloyds Signal Station on the Lizard sailing east

14 June 1934 arrived Houston from Gothenburg

7 July 1934 sailed Port Sudan

1934 purchased by Det Danske Petroleum A/S (C.F. Holm, Managers) Copenhagen name unchanged

2 October 1934 berthed at Smith’s Dock, River Tyne

11 October 1934 sailed the River Tyne for Baton Rouge

17 November 1934 press report by the Liverpool Echo newspaper …


17 11 1934 Liverpool Echo DANMARK


11 February 1935 arrived at Salt End Jetty, Hull

1935 managers became F.W. Kraft, Copenhagen

16 August 1935 berthed at Avonmouth from Aruba

22 August 1935 berthed Shields, River Tyne

23 August 1935 in No 6 Dock, Smith Dock Company, River Tyne for collision repairs

31 August 1935 sailed Shields, River Tyne

18 September 1935 arrived at Cristobal from the River Tyne

7 January 1936 berthed at Avonmouth from Aruba

8 January 1836 sailed from Avonmouth

19 May 1936 berthed at Avonmouth from Aruba

8 July 1936 berthed at Avonmouth from Aruba

6 October 1936 arrived at Thames Haven from Aruba

27 December 1936 sailed from Osaka

14 January 1937 sailed from Kobe for Copenhagen

9 May 1937 berthed at Avonmouth from Aruba

23 August 1937 sailed from Aruba for Rotterdam

20 September 1937 sailed the River Tyne for Maderia

8 October 1937 sailed Las Palmas

26 November 1937 sailed from Aruba for Avonmouth

14 December 1937 berthed at Avonmouth from Aruba

14 January 1938 sailed New Orleans

8 February 1938 sailed Avonmouth

22 March 1938 passed Gibraltar sailing east bound

26 March 1938 berthed at Avonmouth from Aruba

24 April 1939 berthed at Avonmouth Oil Berth from Baytown

25 April 1939 sailed from Avonmouth for Aruba

26 July 1939 sailed Fawley for Nyborg, Denmark

4 August 1939 on the River Tyne at Smith’s Dock together with RFA BRITISH LADY

11 August 1939 on the River Tyne at Ship’s Dock

19 August 1939 while on passage from Dairen for Rotterdam and Copenhagen arrived at Suez with defective machinery, cylinder cover broken. Reported in Lloyds casualty reports

25 December 1939 sailed Aruba independently

12 January 1940 while on passage from Aruba to Nyborg with a cargo of 8,200t of refined petrol and 5,760t of kerosene, she was ordered to divert to Kirkwall for clearance by Contraband Control. She anchored in Inganess Bay just to the east of Kirkwall. Here she was torpedoed by the German Submarine U-23 (Kapitänleutnant Otto Kretschmer)  in position 58°59 N 02°53 W and a huge hole was blown in her side. Her crew of 40 escaped safely but the 14,000 tons of fuel destined for the Allied war effort were lost

22 January 1940 back broken, after part sank, foward section beached

 Aberdeen Journal 15 Jan 1940 DANMARK 

Press Report Aberdeen Journal of the 15 January 1940

6 February 1940 the after part’s position was given as 58°58 48N, 02°53 05W, or bearing 164.5 degrees, 2.34 miles from Hellier light.  – Report by Naval Officer in Charge, Kirkwall. Notice to Mariners 329/40 issued.

July 1940 1,924 tons of her cargo of kerosene was salvaged

March 1941 forward section broke off allowing it to be refloated and beached nearby where it lay  for some months before being refloated and towed to Inverkeithing, probably originally for demolition

7 June 1941 forward section towed to Grangemouth for conversation into stationary fuel hulk by Grangemouth Dockyard Co Ltd.

5 September 1941 sailed under tow from Kirwall to Scapa Flow arriving 13 September 1941

17 September 1941 sailed under tow from Scapa Flow to Inverkeithing arriving 25 September 1941

September 1942 conversion completed



RFA Danmark
© Handels – og Søfartsmuseet, Danmark


23 October 1942 Mr F Clarke RFA appointed as Chief Engineer Officer

27 October 1942 towed to Scapa Flow where she was used  to bunker light cruisers and destroyers, being herself refilled by other tankers as required. She had an RFA Chief Officer, Third Officer, Chief Engineer and Third Engineer as part of her crew

18 December 1942 Chief Officer B Smith RFA appointed as Chief Officer-in-Charge

February 1943 HMCS ATHABASKAN while berthing alongside RFA Danmark suffered structural damage which required the destroyer to be taken in hand for repairs at Greenock commencing 11 March 1943



25 May 1943 at Scapa Flow USS Ellyson (DD454) alongside to refuel



USS Ellyson (DD454)


21 June 1943 at Scapa Flow USS Ellyson (DD454) alongside to refuel

23 August 1943 at Scapa Flow USS Forrest (DD-461) alongside to refuel – received 13,810 gallons

31 August 1943 at Scapa Flow USS Corry (DD-463) alongside to refuel – received 14,475 gallons of FFO and 6,277 gallons of diesel

19 September 1943 at Scapa Flow USS Forrest (DD-461) alongside to refuel – received 68,800 gallons

22 September 1943 at Scapa Flow USS Hobson (DD-464) alongside to refuel



USS Hobson (DD-464)


29 September 1943 at Scapa Flow USS Corry (DD-463) alongside to refuel – received 25,745 gallons

8 November 1943 at Scapa Flow USS Hobson (DD-464) alongside to refuel

14 December 1943 Chief Officer A J McKenzie RFA appointed as Chief Officer-in-Charge

17 February 1945 at Scapa Flow HMCS Saint John alongside to refuel

21 March 1945 at Scapa Flow HMCS Saint John alongside to refuel

28 June 1945 a buoy was laid on a bearing 043.5 degrees and 121 metres from the wrecked after part.  Report by Northern Lighthouse Board, Notice to Mariners 10/46 issued.

3 October 1945 towed to the Clyde and laid up off Kilcreggan

July 1947 moved to lay-up in Loch Long

1948 purchased by Shell-Mex & B.P. Ltd, London who proposed to return her to service as an oil storage depot at Dublin

February 1948 arrived Dublin in tow of  the tug METINDA 1V and was subsequently renamed SHELFOIL and remained here for a number of years



Shelfoil at Dublin
© Handels – og Søfartsmuseet, Danmark


23 December 1951 while berthed at the North Wall Extention, Dublin Harbour fire broke out in the engine room

26 December 1951 the Weekly Irish Times reported that –

Irish Times 26 12 1951 

25 March 1953 hulk arrived Faslane to be broken up after completion of new oil installations at Dublin.

2 December 1957 the after part wreck dries to reveal 1 metre. Report taken from Diver Report 1957 Docket 28 Augst 1957

18 August 1961 the wreck has been totally dispersed to seabed level and the buoy has been removed. The position is considered to be foul.  Report by Northern Lighthouse Board.



After she had been torpedoed, all amidships accommodation was still more or less intact, as were the pipelines in the cargo tanks and on deck, but a steam supply was required to operate the cargo pumps. As usual, a dry cargo hold existed abaft the forepeak tank and this space was arranged as an engine / boiler room. Uptakes from the boilers were led into a single tubular funnel which led to atmosphere through the forecastle deck. Vertical elm belting was fitted to protect the hull so that ships of all sizes were able to moor alongside whilst refuelling