RFA Purfol



Image courtesy of Iziko Museums, John H. Marsh Maritime Research Centre
ss Rockwell – previously RFA Purfol at Cape Town 19 November 1936

Previous name:                        THAMES CONSERVANCY HOPPER No.7, PLA  HOPPER No.7
Subsequent name:                   PLA  HOPPER No.7, ROCKWELL

Official Number:                       123824                                                        

Class:                                     ex-PLA HOPPER

Pennant No:                             X-56

Signal Letters:                          HLFT (1907)

Laid down:
Builder:                                    Fleming & Ferguson, Paisley
Launched:                                13 February 1907  
Into Service:                              9 September 1916
Out of service:                          1920
Fate:                                        Broken up in South Africa 1966


Items of historic interest involving this ship: –


Background Data:  As WW1 progressed, the demand for fuelling ships became more acute and the 6 vessels in this Class were all formerly PLA Hoppers, used for working with the dredgers in London. They lent themselves to rapid conversion into tankers by plating over the bottom sludge door joints and by installing a pipeline and a pump. They were all coal burners that had been built on the River Clyde and after acquisition by the Admiralty, they were renamed after salient features of the River Thames and their new names used the leading parts of the names of London boroughs. In 1920 they were all returned to the PLA and they resumed their previous names. They are all recorded in official records as Royal Fleet Auxiliaries


26 March 1907 launched by Fleming & Ferguson Ltd, Paisley as Yard Nr 356 named THAMES CONSERVANCY HOPPER No 7 for the Conservators of the River Thames,  London

April 1907 completed

2 May 1907 registered in London as number 70/1907 in the Registry Book

1909 renamed PORT OF LONDON AUTHORITY HOPPER No.7 by the Port of London Authority

9 September 1916 chartered by the Admiralty, converted into a tanker and renamed RFA PURFOL, The Admiralty paid for hire of this ship at £240 per month

14 October 1916 Engineer Lieutenant Ernest E Patterson RNR appointed as Chief Engineer Officer

12 June 1917 stationed at Killybegs, Ireland supporting HMS PLATYPUS and her flotilla of submarines

4 September 1917 Able Seaman Whalley logged as deserting. He had signed on on 4 August 1917.

5 October 1917 Lieutenant Samuel Williams RNR appointed in Command

3 November 1917 Able Seaman C Stuart, Ordinary Seaman Francis J Cronican and Ordinary Seaman J Byrne all logged as deserting.  AB Stuart had signed on on 4 August 1917 while OS Cronican and OS Byrne had both signed on on 11 September 1917

Francis Cronican

Ordinary Seaman Francis J Cronican

4 December 1917 at Liverpool Docks alongside HMS ARLANZA refuelling her

21 April 1919 at Portland alongside HMS CASTOR refuelling her

HMS Castor


17 May 1919 Englineer Lieutenant Ernest E Patterson RNR transferred to RFA SUNHILL

1920 returned to her owners and resumed her previous name

1927 sold to C.H.Campbell and renamed Rockwell

1931 re-engined by Alexander Hall & Co Ltd, Aberdeen T3cyl 13″21½”35″x27″ 550ihp 8kn

17 November 1936 arrived at  Cape Town, South Africa from Southampton

1966 broken up during third quarter of the year at Durban, South Africa