RFA Empire Ace


RFA Empire Ace


Previous name:                       Empire Ace,  Diligent
Subsequent name:

Official Number:                      169078

Class:                                       Miscellaneous Harbour Tug – HOEDIC Class

Pennant No:

Signal Letters:                        MFLY

Laid down:
Builder:                                    Cochrane and Sons Ltd., Selby
Launched:                              12 September 1942
Into Service:                           22 December 1942
Out of service:                        11 November 1968
Fate:                                         Broken up


Items of historic interest involving this ship: –


Background Data:   There were a number of vessels which fell into the category of Miscellaneous Harbour Tugs which all belonged to different Classes and which were based at various Naval Bases for general duties


12 September 1942 launched by Cochrane & Sons Ltd, Selby as Yard Nr: 1255 named EMPIRE ACE for the MoWT

18 December 1942 registered at Goole as EMPIRE ACE and entered as 16/42 in the Registry

22 December 1942 completed and was handed over to Pedder & Mylchreest Ltd, London for onward delivery

17 February 1943 sailed Holyhead in unescorted convoy HM121 to Milford Haven arriving 19 February 1943

22 March 1943 sailed Gibraltar in unescorted convoy RS3 to Freetown arriving 31 March 1943 – 3 of the convoy were sunk

29 March 1943 rescued 2 crew and 6 DEMS gunners from ss Silverbeech which had been torpedoed by the German submarine U159 (Kapitänleutnant Helmut Witte) and sank in position 25°30N 15°55W.


ss Silverbeech


The Captain, 50 crew, 5 DEMS gunners and 6 passengers onboard were killed. Silverbeech was an ammunition ship. Those rescued were landed at Bathurst, The Gambia

14 April 1943 sailed Freetown in escorted convoy ST62 to Takoradi arriving 20 April 1943

19 June 1943 sailed Takoradi in escorted convoy TS45 to Freetown arriving 25 June 1943

28 June 1943 sailed Freetown in escorted convoy SL132 and r/v with convoy MKS16 to Casablanca arriving 11 July 1943. RFA FORTOL sailing to Gibraltar was in the same convoy acting as the escort oiler

14 July 1943 sailed Casablanca in unescorted convoy CG46 to Gibraltar arriving 15 July 1943

4 August 1943 sailed Gibraltar in convoy escorted GTX5 to Algiers arriving 6 August 1943

7 August 1943 transferred to Naval Service

12 August 1943 sailed Algiers in convoy KMS25 

12 October 1943 off “Sugar Beach” Gulf of Salerno assisting USS Narragansett (AT-88) to remove beached pontoons



USS Narragansett (AT-88) 

24 October 1943 at the Outer Harbour, Naples alongside USS Bryant (DD665) delivering fire fighting chemicals for salvage work on SS James Iredell

15 March 1944 sunk in an air raid at Naples when 20 to 30 enemy aircraft attacked. A liberty ship and the Hospital Ship ABA were also hit and damaged – source Admiralty War Diary

10 May 1944 salvaged and repaired

12 May 1944 at Naples alongside USS LCI(L) 194

23 September 1944 at Naples assisting the US Naval Store Ship USS Procyon (AF61) to berth

26 September 1944 at Naples assisted the US Transport ship USS Anne Arundel (AP76) to sail



USS Anne Arundel (AP76)


8 May 1945 at Malta assisted HMS ANSON to berth on No 13 Buoy

12 May 1945 at Malta assisted HMS ANSON to berth at Palitorial Wharf

5 March 1946 at Malta, civilian manned under the Captain of the Port

31 March 1947 permanently allocated to the Admiralty

8 May 1947 assisted in bringing AFD35 into Grand Harbour, Malta when it arrived under tow from Bombay where it had been built. The tow had lasted 45 days. Mr Carder in command of Empire Ace.

1947 renamed Diligent

18 September 1958 relieved at Malta by FAITHFUL and was towed to Devonport by RFA SAUCY

23 December 1958 on the Disposal List at Devonport

June 1959 included in the preliminary selection for contingency reserve for the Port Auxiliary Service

July 1960 towed to reserve at Pembroke Dock

September 1960 refitted to MoT standards at Rosyth for operational service there

20 November 1960 Captain E E Shelton appointed as Master

9 December 1960 Mr M Kavenagh appointed as Chief Engineer Officer

January 1961 based on the River Clyde civilian manned under RFA conditions and renamed RFA EMPIRE ACE as her prior name was not available when she was registered

27 April 1961 was lent to the USN for service as the “Lamchus Tug” (British tug working with US submarines) in connection with the basing of Polaris submarines (presumably at the Holy Loch) as she was fendered to American requirements

August 1962 was confirmed as an RFA

29 January 1963 in collision with the frigate HMS EXMOUTH at Greenock. Her stern was damaged and temporary repairs were effected at Lamont’s Yard there

31 December 1964 the USN started to use their own tugs so she was returned to the Secretary of State for Defence name unchanged

25 May 1965 FOSNI requested that she be transferred to PAS manning, but she remained RFA-manned

4 May 1966 stationed near Campbeltown during contractor’s sea trials of the nuclear submarine  HMS VALIANT

June 1968 was included in the Clyde Tug Force

11 November 1968 grounded on the Mull of Kintyre, 4 miles south of Campbeltown and was abandoned after initial salvage attempts failed

26 November 1968 transferred to D 606 manning

28 March 1969 was finally refloated by RMAS MANDARIN and MFV 64

12 June 1969 towed into Campbeltown for inspection

18 June 1969 declared to be beyond economical repair

20 June 1969 offered for sale “as lies”

19 September 1969 purchased for demolition by G. Hood & Co, Helensburgh

1971 resold for demolition to Archbald MacFayden & Sons, Campbeltown. (Biley & Cougar Ltd ?)