RFA Dapper




Dapper involved in the attempts to salvage HMS Glatton in 1926
Photo supplied by Paul Wells with grateful thanks
RFA Dapper


Previous name:                       Chapman

Official Number:                      149161                                                                       

Class:                                     Salvage Vessel

Pennant No:                            X30  /  X19

Laid down:
Builder:                                   New York Shipbuilding
Launched:                               1915

Into Service:                            1915
Out of service:                          March 1923

Fate:                                       Broken up



Items of historic interest involving this ship: –


Background Data:   In some old ledgers in the possession of the Admiralty and marked “ lists of RFA’s”, a number of vessels are shown as having spent some time as RFA’s during WW1. Some of these vessels were Yard Craft, partially or wholly Dockyard-manned, partly by RNR or Reserve Fleet personnel. The Director of Stores Dept was concerned with their manning and operation for a while


1915 launched by New York Shipbuilding Corp, Camden, New York as Yard Nr ? named CHAPMAN for the Dover Harbour Board, Dover

November 1915 completed

1915 requisitioned by the Admiralty and renamed DAPPER. Was subsequently purchased by them for use as a Salvage Vessel

22 November 1915 Lieutenant Philip N Edmonds RNR appointed in command

5 October 1916 Diver William Henry Foreman, aged 46, discharged dead at Edinburgh, Scotland from disease. He was buried in Dover (Buckland) Cemetery, Dover, Kent in grave D 2196



Courtesy and © of The War Graves Photographic Project


March 1917 and other dates over a number of years assisted RFA RACER to recover gold in the HMS LAURENTIC which had been mined and sunk while off Lough Swilly, County Donegal, Ireland

30 April 1918 Able Seaman William Stanley Sheriff, aged 19, discharged dead. He was buried in Lower Fahan (Christ Church) Churchyard, Buncrana, County Donegal, Republic of Ireland in a grave in the south east part of the cemetery

Sheriff A.W.S

Courtesy and © of The War Graves Photographic Project


9 May 1918 Engineer Lieutenant Frederick C Reynolds RNR appointed as Chief Engineer Officer

May 1918 together with H.M. Tugs Sonia, Flying Foam, Milewater, Heathercock and Flying Cormorant together with a party from H M Dockyard Haulbowline involved in the salvage of ss Manora, Aeneas and Oriana

12 August 1918 Engineer Lieutenant Andrew Powrie RNR appointed as Chief Engineer Officer


Eng Lieut Andrew Powrie

Engineer Lieutenant Andrew Powrie RNR


8 May 1919 Engineer Lieutenant Thomas C Furness RNR appointed as Chief Engineer Officer


CEO Thomas C Furness

Engineer Lieutenant Thomas C Furness RNR


18 August 1919 the Scotsman newspaper reported –

Press cutting The Scotsman 12 8 19

9 September 1919 involved in the salvage of the schooner Markussund.

28 January 1921 applications for salvage money published in the London Gazette of 28 January 1921 on page 780

4 February 1921 the Hampshire Telegraph reported –


4 2 1921 Hampshire Tele Dapper


22 November 1921 sailed Queenstown to Devonport prior to being laid up

28 November 1921 arrived at Devonport from Queenstown escorted by RFA BELGOL

March 1923 sold to the Zamardi Landi for £2,700

28 March 1924 the London Gazette reported –

28 3 1924 London Gazette Dapper

18 July 1924 at Dover Police Court Cook John Leady appeared charged with the stealing a gold ring from a cabin onboard. He pleaded Not Guily but was convicted and fined 10/-


 Dapper Press Report 1924

Press report from Dover Express dated 18 July 1924


24 October 1924 the Dover Express reported

Dover Express 24 10 1924 Dapper


1926 involved in the attempts to salavge HMS GLATTON which had exploded and later sank in Dover Harbour on 16 September 1918. The Glatton was moved where she had sunk and which caused obstruction to ship movements in the Harbour to a deeper part of the harbour. This was then filled in and the car terminal (as it is now) was built over the ship

HMS Glatton


15 January 1926 the Dover Express reported ….

15 1 26 Dover Express Dapper

25 February 1926 HMS GLATTON moved to about 100 feet off the Camber Wall

16 March 1926 HMS GLATTON moved to alongside the Camber Wall


Dapper 1927 Dover Harbour

RFA Dapper at work in Dover Harbour in 1927

27 April 1927 at Dover commenced salvage work on raising the two block ship – ss Livonian and ss Spanish Prince – sunk in the western entrance of the harbour during World War 1

Spanish Prince 01

Block Ship Spanish Prince

21 September 1928 at Dover involved in replacing of the gates to Wellington Dock which had been removed on 18 June 1928 for repairs

11 January 1929 at Dover raised the barge “Eileen” which had broken adrift during gales and sunk

20 February 1929 off the port of Dover together with the tugs Lady Brassey and Lady Duncannon salvaged the Belgian steamer Ville de Leige. The Belgian ship was towed into Dover Harbour for repairs 

12 November 1929 off Peacehaven near Beachy Head together with the tugs Lady Brassey and Lady Duncannon salvaged the Italian steamship Nimbo (3,870 tons) which had gone aground. Having been refloated the Italian ship was towed to Southampton for repairs

20 December 1929 sailed from Dover to the Downs taking coal to the Spanish steamer Mari which had run out of bunkers to allow her to reach Dover. On reaching Dover the Mari loaded 130 tons of bunker coal

4 April 1930 sailed Dover in company of the Dover Harbour Board tug Lady Duncan

11 April 1930 at the Elbow Buoy, off Ramsgate attended the German tanker Nord Atlantic which had been damaged amidships in a collision with the Tilbury to Dunkirk steamer Picardy

15 April 1930 proceedings in the Admiralty Division of the High Court by the Dover Harbour Board following the salvaging of the Italian steamship Nimbo (see above) resulted in judgement by default being granted to the Dover Harbour Board

5 January 1931 sailed Dover to the ss Nurtureton aground on her maiden voyage 1 mile east of Dungeness. With 55 men from Dover to jettison her cargo of coal attempts were made to refloat the vessel

1 May 1931 the Dover Express & East Kent News published an image of work being undertaken by the salvage vessel Dapper


Dover express 1 5 1931 Dapper


3 September 1932 at Dover Harbour assisted in the raising of part of the ss Livonian a World War One blockship which had previously been cut in four by divers 

4 May 1939 engaged in the raising at Dover of the Royal Artillery Yacht Club’s dragon ‘Bess’ – raised and towed to the Camber

16 April 1940 Panamanian steamer ALBA (3444grt) ran aground on the Goodwins, 3½ miles 55° from Deal Coast Guard Station. Tug LADY BRASSEY and salvage vessel DAPPER sailed from Dover to assist. After jettisoning cargo and the efforts of seven tugs, she was finally refloated at 1830/17th, brought to the Downs and anchored.

20 March 1940 Steamer BARN HILL (5439grt), formerly of convoy HX.25A, was badly damaged by German bombers of KG26, three miles SSW of Beachy Head, in 50°34N, 0°02W.  Five crew were lost, and the steamer was towed towards shore and beached three hundred yards southeast of Langney Point on the 21st.  Salvage vessel DAPPER sailed to the scene at daylight on the 25th and remained there until the fire was extinguished. The steamer’s back broke on the 26th and she was declared a total loss.

24 May 1940 sailed from Dover to assist the British ss Bhutan which had been badly damaged in a collision

30 May 1940 sailed from Dover to assist the Mine Destructor Ship HMS CORFIELD which had been damaged by mining and a fire

25 September 1940 requisitioned by the Admiralty

28 October 1940 Able Seaman Ivor Leon Rogers awarded a Commendation – details were published in the London Gazette of this date

20 January 1942 Chief Engineer Daniel J Thomas RFA appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (Civil Division) – MBE and Leading Salvage Hand William Webb awarded the British Empire Medal (Civil Division) – BEM for fire fighting in a bombed ship – details were published in the London Gazette of this date. Chief Engineer Daniel J Thomas was also awarded the Lloyds Bravery Medal  

9 February 1942 H M Fort ‘Roughs Tower’ left Tilbury, Dapper towing ahead, Lady Brassey stern tug and Crested Cock and King Lear (Gamecock’s salvage vessel) lashed alongside.


What remains of H M Fort ‘Roughs Tower’

11 February 1942 1645 the fort was in position 51°33.66N 1°28.93E, 7 miles SE of Lowestoft. [This first tow, taking three days, was apparently fraught with problems, including hitting a light vessel moored off Gravesend, colliding with three buoys, R1, Mucking 1 and Mucking 2 and weather problems.

20 April 1942 assisted HMS COTSWOLD which had been mined in the North Sea to Shotley Spit off Parkstone where she was beached



4 May 1942 HMS COTSWOLD towed by Dapper to Chatham

5 October 1942 berthed at Great Yarmouth with HMS SHEARWATER – source Admiralty War Diary

5 July 1943 sailed to Yarmouth Roads to assist the American Freighter Oremar which had fouled No 59 buoy and was in tow by HM Tug St Mellons to Great Yarmouth – source Admiralty War Diary 

25 December 1943 sailed Great Yarmouth together with HMS WORCESTER which was being towed by the tugs Champion and Krooman all escorted by HMS WIDGEON – source Admiralty War Diary

2 October 1943 at Dover Cook/Steward Reginald Howard discharged dead – apparent suicide. He is buried in Charlton Cemetery, Dover

13 July 1944 ordered by signal from C in C Portsmouth to sail as soon as possible to HMS LST 359 which had been mined in area 16 east of Calshot and was in danager of sinking

20 October 1944 Fireman Charles Edward Lewry discharged dead – heart failure. He is buried in St Mary’s Cemetery, Dover

11 April 1945 towing to the Downs the ss Lady Brassey under the escort of HMS GREY GOOSE – souce Admiralty War Diary reporting a signal from Dapper to the Admiral commanding Dover

HMS Grey Goose

HMS Grey Goose

7 December 1945 at the South Goodwins attended the US steamship USO and the French vessel Andre Thome both of which had grounded on the sand banks. The USO was refloated. The Andre Thome having been refloated grounded herself again

29 June 1946 returned to owners

1 November 1946 the Dover Express reported –

Press Cutting Dapper Dover 1 Nov 1946

Helena Modjeska

ss Helena Modjeska

January 1951 broken up at Dover

1 May 1951 Certificate cancelled and Registry entry closed – ship broken up




Was managed by Risdon Beazeley Ltd, Southampton during WW2



Ships of the same name


Dapper. A gun-brig of 12 guns, 185 bm, 85 x 22.5 feet.  Launched by Adams, Chapel in December 1805.  Sold on the 29 September 1814.


Dapper. A wood screw gunboat of the “Dapper” class launched by Green of Blackwall on the 31 March 1855, reduced to a training hulk in 1885, then a cooking depot in 1897 and given the pennant number YC 37 in 1909.  Sold to a Mr Perry on the 10 May 1922.

Battle Honours for this Vessel: BALTIC 1855.