RFA Reindeer


RFA Reindeer

Previous name:                     HMS Reindeer
Subsequent name:                Reindeer 1  

Official Number:                    151081                                                    

Class:                                   MARINER CLASS Sloop (originally)

Pennant No:                         W70

Laid down:                           15 January 1883
Builder:                                 Devonport Dockyard
Launched:                            14 November 1883
Into Service:                         1917 as a RFA
Out of service:                      12 July 1924
Fate:                                     Foundered 180 nm off Halifax, Canada


Items of historic interest involving this ship: –


Background Data:   She was one of a Class of six gun vessels designed by Nathaniel Barnaby, the Royal Navy Director of Naval Construction, which were all re-rated as sloops before they entered service. The Class consisted of: HM ships ACORN, ICARUS, MARINER, MELITA, RACER and REINDEER, three of which were converted into Salvage Vessels. They were originally powered by a two cylinder horizontal compound  expansion steam engine produced by Hawthorn Leslie


15 January 1883 laid down

14 November 1883 launched by HM Dockyard, Devonport as the gun vessel  HMS REINDEER

20 May 1884 the Shields Daily News reported that –


Shields Daily news 20.5.1884 Reindeer


26 November 1884 was re-rated as a sloop

2 December 1884 commissioned for East Indies Service at Devonport

30 December 1884 untook trials off Plymouth Harbour breakwater 

20 March 1885 Lieutenant Arthur Y Moggridge Royal Navy appointed in Command

16 June 1885 sailed from Aden with HMS Bacchante (Flagship) for Colombo and Trincomalee

28 June 1885 arrived at Trincomalee with HMS BACCHANTE

23 August 1885 arrived at Bombay

25 April 1886 sailed Muscat to Ras Madrakato cruise for the suppresion of the Slave Trade

June 1886 after a refit at Trincomalee, Ceylon, she was engaged off Zanzibar in the suppression of the Slave Trade

7 July 1886 Commander Henry Briggs Lang Royal Navy appointed in Command

2 October 1886 arrived at Zanzibar

19 October 1886 captured the dhow Mkundoo and five slaves 

21 October 1886 sailed from Zanzibar

1 November 1886 captured the dhow Mali and ten slaves

28 December 1886 arrived at Zanzibar

17 January 1887 captured a canoe and two slaves

21 February 1887 arrived at Zanzibar

12 June 1887 was at Zanzibar

15 September 1887 at Zanzibar was joined by HMS BACCHANTE and HMS MARINER (later to become RFA MARINER)

25 October 1887 in port at Zanzibar

November 1887 Lieutenant H M Murphy Royal Navy discharged dead – fell overboard and drowned

9 November 1887 captured the dhow Mjo Meki

23 November 1887 captured a dhow (name unknown)

25 November 1887 captured a dhow (name unknown)

13 Decenber 1887 captured a dhow (name unknown)

17 Decenber 1887 captured a dhow (name unknown)

23 January 1888 sailed from Zanzibar

29 January 1888 arrived at the Seychelles

1 February 1888 sailed from the Seychelles

9 February 1888 arrived at Diago Garcia

10 February 1888 sailed from Diago Garcia

22 February 1888 sailed from Colombo, Ceylon

April 1888 commissioned at Bombay with Commander Henry B Lang Royal Navy in command

10 April 1888 the Admiralty paid slave and prize money to the Commanding Officer, officers and ships company for the their capture of the slaves and dhows and the canoe listed above on the 19 October 1886, 1 November 1886, 17 January 1887 and the 9 November 1887 

13 November 1888 the Admiralty prize money to the Commanding Officer, officers and ships company for the their capture and listed above for 23 November 1887, 25 November 1887, 13 December 1887 and 17 December 1887

20 December 1888 engaged in the battle of Suakin, also known as the Battle of Gemaizah. Suakin was the chief port of Sudan

April 1889 fired upon from the shore when cruising off the coast of Lindi

28 April 1889 in collision with a collier ss Cromartyshire at Zanzibar. The collier was outbound, in ballast, when she fouled the warship damaging her boats, rigging and bowsprit. The collier suffered no damage


Cromartyshire 02

Collier ss Cromartyshire


14 May 1889captured the dhow Umshari Yumbi

16 May 1889 captured two dhows of unknown names

8 June 1889 captured the dhow Star

19 June 1889 captured the dhow Daga and two slaves

11 July 1889 captured the dhow of unknown name and two slaves

13 August 1889 arrived at the Seychelles

22 August 1889 sailed the Seychelles for Zanzibar

30 August 1889 Commander the Hon Edward Needham Royal Navy appointed in Command

16 September 1889 captured the dhow Mansuri with 123 slaves onboard

21 September 1889 at Pemba captured an Arab slave dhow with 131 slaves onboard

21 December 1889 arrived at Mauritius from Diego Suarez

31 December 1899 sailed from Mauritius for Zanzibar

8 January 1890 arrived at Zanzibar

11 January 1890 sailed from Zanzibar

2 February 1890 at anchor at Mombassa

18 March 1890 sailed Mozambique for Zanzibar with the British Consul Mr Johnson onboard

23 March 1890 arrived at Zanzibar

29 March 1890 the Admiralty announced that the Soudan Medal with the Gemaizah 1888 clasp had been awarded to members of the crew who had served on the ship on the 20 December 1888 the date of the action


Gemaizah Medal


29 March 1890 various prize money for five dhows captured in 1889 awarded this day

22 June 1890 arrived at the Seychelles from Zanzibar

25 June 1890 sailed from the Seychelles for Trincomalee, Ceylon 

1 July 1890 the Admiralty paid slave and prize money to the Commanding Officer, officers and ships company for the their capture of the slaves and dhows listed above on the 14 May 1889 and the 16 September 1889

26 January 1891 sailed from Aden

31 January 1891 arrived at Suakin

10 February 1891 arrived at Suez

11 February 1891 after transitting the Suez Canal arrived at Port Said

20 February 1891 was almost wrecked when entering Malta after her engines broke down and was only saved from being driven onto the rocks by making sail

12 March 1891 berthed at Gibraltar for bunkers

13 March 1891 sailed Gibraltar after coaling

18 March 1891 arrived at Vigo

24 March 1891 berthed at Devonport

18 April 1891 paid off at Devonport into 3rd class reserve until 1895. The Chatham News of this day reported –


18.4.1891 Chatham News Reindeer


1896 was reduced to Harbour Service at Devonport

26 July 1901 hawsers between HMS REINDEER and HMS MARINER improved the harbour defence of Devonport Dockyard

1902 was brought forward for service as a Boom Defence Vessel at Devonport along with her sister ship HMS MARINER

During World War 1 used to salvage German submarines.

24 April 1915 Petty Officer Stoker Charles Baker 145418 discharged dead

6 June 1915 in collision with the Requisitioned Auxiliary Immingham. The Immingham sank

November 1915 taken in hand for conversion into a Salvage Ship and was renamed REINDEER

8 October 1917 Lieutenant Robert J Dustan RNR appointed in Command

2 January 1918 berthed at Malta

4 January 1918 sailed Malta to Genoa arriving on 6 January 1918

8 January 1918 entered Dry Dock at Genoa

1918 re-engined by Fairfield Shipbuilding & Engineering Co Ltd, Glasgow

6 July 1918 Engineer Lieutenant Frank E T Wheeler RNR appointed as Chief Engineer Officer

10 August 1918 Lieutenant Edward P Lyndon RNR appointed in Command


 Captain Edward Percy LYNDON

Lieutenant Edward P Lyndon RNR


11 November 1918 Fireman G Mosby logged as deserted. He had signed on on 20 July 1918

19 November 1918 Assistant Cook A A Welsh logged as deserted. He had signed on on 20 September 1918

1919 taken over by the Liverpool Salvage Association, Liverpool and was renamed REINDEER 1

30 August 1921 arrived Hull to assist in the recovery of wreckage from the airship R 38 (which had  been  renamed ZR – 2 after sale to the Americans) and which had  exploded, broken in two and crashed in flames in the River Humber 6 days earlier, killing 44 of the 49 persons on board




September 1921 paid off at Southampton

13 July 1923 sailed from Train Ferry Pier, Portsmouth Harbour to Netley Buoy

12 July 1924 sold to Halifax Shipyard Ltd, N.S. Canada name unchanged

16 July 1924 in No: 4 Dry Dock at Portsmouth Harbour

18 July 1924 in No: 4 Dry Dock at Portsmouth Harbour

24 July 1924 berthed on the Torpedo Boat Slip, Portsmouth Dockyard

26 July 1924 berthed on the Fountain Lake Jetty, Portsmouth Dockyard

28 July 1924 berthed on the Fountain Lake Jetty, Portsmouth Dockyard

October 1925 sailed St. Johns, Newfoundland to provide salvage assistance to the steamer Stiklestad which had suffered a main bearing seizure in mid Atlantic.  Reindeer sailed not once but several times being beaten back by savage storms, the last occasion of which she suffered severe damage that she had to enter dry dock for repairs

3 July 1928 attended HMS DAUNTLESS aground on Thrum Gap Shoal. Moved the warship slightly. Dauntless refloated on 11 July 1928.



12 March 1932 with a crew of 30 she had been at sea for several hours in a heavy gale with hugh seas. Her crew were becoming exhausted by their efforts to keep the water down. – she radioed she was leaking badly, her pumps were choked and she was in need of immediate assistance.  The Canadian Pacific liner Montcalm which received the radio message when she was about 45 miles from the Reindeer 1 and was on the scene about 3 hours later. The Reindeer I was then low in the water, and her Captain decided that she must be abandoned without delay. Owing to the violent rolling of the tug, a life-boat could not be launched from her and preparations were made to launch a life-boat from the Montcalm, which took up a position as near to the distressed vessel as was prudent. Considerable difficulty was experienced in launching a boat which, although damaged, was eventually sent away soon after 6 p.m. This boat was in the charge of  Henry S. Knight, the Second Officer of the Montcalm, together with Boatswain Walter Doyle,  Quartermaster William Thomas Hughes, Storekeeper Horace Addicott, Lamptrimmer John Peter Smyth, Able Seamen John Carr, William John Lawry, John Page and Henry Pearce. At first, the life-boat was unable to get close to the ship as she was drifting before the gale. Later, however, the engineer of the Reindeer I was able to put the engines astern for a few minutes in order to check the drifting, and the crew of the life-boat succeeded in securing lines which had been thrown overboard from the tug and so brought their boat alongside. Meanwhile, the Montcalm had been pouring oil on the water to make the work of rescue easier, but in spite of this the life-boat was continually ranging back and forth and moving up and down the side of the tug, the crew of which had to jump into the life-boat as opportunity offered. By 7 p.m., the crew of the Reindeer I were all in the life-boat. As it was damaged and heavily laden, it took nearly three-quarters of an hour to reach the Montcalm. The boat’s crew and the crew of the tug were taken on board by a rope ladder, but the boat had to be abandoned. Reindeer 1foundered 180 nm off Halifax, Canada at position 43.43N 63W. A total of nine Sea Gallantry Medals in bronze were awarded to men of the Montcalm. The Government of Canada awarded the Montcalm’s Master, Captain Arthur Rothwell, a piece of plate, binoculars to Second Officer Knight and a monetary award to Lawry and other members of the boat’s crew. A Lloyd’s Medal for Saving Life at Sea in silver was presented to Second Officer Knight and members of the boat’s crew were awarded the medal in bronze. In addition, the Committee of Lloyd’s presented a bronze tablet to be placed on board the Montcalm to commemorate the event. The award of the Sea Gallantry Medals were published in the London Gazette of the 9 December 1932


Walter Doyle,
Boatswain, William Thomas Hughes, Quartermaster, Horace Addicott, Storekeeper, John
Peter Smyth, Lamptrimmer, John Carr,
Wi l l i am John LawryJ°lSe¥lie John Page and
He n ry Pearce, Able SeamenWalter Doyle,, William Thomas Hughes, Quartermaster, Horace Addicott, Storekeeper, JohnPeter Smyth, Lamptrimmer, John Carr,Wi l l i am John LawryJ°lSe¥lie John Page andHe n ry Pearce, Able Seamen







  1. Her hull cost £34,834 and her machinery £12,787



Ships of the same name


Reindeer. Brig sloop of the “Cruizer” class, 385 bm and 18 guns by Brent of Rochester, launched on the 15 August 1804.  Captured by the American ship “Wasp” in the English Channel and burnt on the 28 June 1814.


Reindeer. A packet brig of the “Cherokee” class by Plymouth Dockyard, launched on the 29 September 1929.  230 bm, 8 guns.  Reduced to harbour service in May 1841 and sold out of service in 1847.


Reindeer. Wood screw sloop of 953 bm ,Launched at Chatham Dockyard on the 29 March 1866, 953 bm, 185 x 33 feet, armed with 1 x 110 pdr, 5 x 64 pdr.  The ships build was cancelled in May 1865, but then restarted.  The ship was broken up at Chatham in December 1876.