RRS William Scoresby

W. Scoresby e-bay  
Lower images © English Heritage.NMR

Subsequent name:                HMS WILLIAM SCORESBY

Official Number:                    148757

Class:                                  Royal Research Ship

Pennant No:                         J122

Laid down:
Builder:                                 Cook, Welton & Gemmell, Beverley
Launched:                             31 December 1925
Into Service:                          14 June 1926   
Out of service:                       January 1953
Fate:                                     Broken up


Items of historic interest involving this ship: –


Background Data:  At some stage during their lives, 3 of the Royal Research Ships saw service as RFA’s

31 December 1925 Launched by Cook, Welton & Gemmel Ltd, Beverley as Yard Nr: 477 named WILLIAM SCORESBY by the Lady Harmer for the Government of the Falkland Islands. She was named after the English polar explorer (1790 – 1857) and first chaplain of the Mariners’ Floating Church of the same name

14 June 1926 completed


RRS WIlliam Scoresby


17 June 1926 alongside in the Humber Dock, Hull loading stores. Captain George M Mercer (Lieutenant Commander RNR) was in command

George M Mercer

Captain George M Mercer

25 June 1926 sailed Hull for Brixham having loaded her bunkers at Saltend

August 1926 arrived at Cape Town to join the RRS Discovery

8 November 1926 arrived at Port Stanley, Falkland Islands

28 February 1927 at Port Stanley, Falkland Islands Chief Petty Officer John R Blanchard rescued two local boys who had fallen into the harbour and were in danger of drowning


 Blanchard 1927

Chief Petty Officer John R Blanchard


1927 David Roy Esq – Chief Engineer Officer

17 August 1927 berthed on the South Railway Jetty, Portsmouth Dockyard

18 August 1927 moved to the Tidal Basin, Portsmouth Harbour for repairs

19 August 1927 berthed in the Tidal Basin, Portsmouth Harbour

16 December 1927 at Portsmouth Dockyard loading stores

24 December 1927 sailed Portsmouth Dockyard on an Antartic Survey

26 December 1927 at 46°06N 7°70W Leading Seaman Sydney James Cook discharged dead – washed overboard and lost in heavy weather

19 February 1928 off South Georgia when the wire rope of the trawl net fouled the propeller shaft. Chief Engineer Officer David Roy and Third Engineer Sutherland put on diving suits, entered the water and removed 20 turns of wire rope from around the boss of the propeller

1 April 1928 suffered damage to her stern frame while at South Georgia

10 October 1929 sailed Simonstown, South Africa for the South Shetland Islands



Unloading her aircraft in 1929 onto the pack ice

RFA William Scoresby

William Scoresby c1929 with LOCKHEED VEGA Aeroplane onboard in Antarctica 


9 January 1930 sailed Deception Island for the Falklands Islands

12 August 1930 sailed Simnonstwon, South Africa for Melbourne, Australia

October 1930 Captain John J C Irving (Lieutenant Commander Royal Navy retired) took command. The Chief Engineer Officer was David Roy


W Sc - Crew

Some of RRS William Scoresby’s crew


25 October 1930 the Shipping Gazette reported


Shipping Gazette WScoresby 1930

image courtesy of the National Oceanographic Library, Southampton


4 November 1930 sailed London to the Antarctic Archipelago

DUNIH 2008.60.3.1

RRS William Scoresby at Grytviken, South Georgia

Courtesy of Dundee Heritage Trust


6 December 1930 sailed from Las Palmas

17 December 1930 arrived at Pernambuco, Brazil

27 May 1931 sailed from Santiago de Chile

24 February 1932 at Stanley Hospital, Falkland Islands Able Seaman William Franklin Porteous discharged dead – suicide

10 May 1932 arrived at Pernambuco, Brazil from Port Stanley, Falkland Islands

6 June 1932 arrived London and berthed in the East India Docks



RRS William Scoresby
image courtesy of the National Oceanographic Library, Southampton

9 June 1932 the Townsville Daily Bulletin, Queensland, Australia reported –


9 6 1932 Townsville Daily Bulletin QLD W. Scoresby


11 October 1934 took on charge a Dent Marine Chronometer No. 58640 which had been purchased by the Admiralty in November 1918. The chronometer had been previously on charge on HMS CARSTAIRS. On 2 October 1935 taken off charge.

16 October 1934 sailed London for Simonstown, South Africa – Captain Claude R U Boothby (Lieutenant RNR) as Master


Claude Boothby

Captain Claude Boothby as an Apprentice prior to 1919


26 November 1934 sailed Simonstown, South Africa


W Scoresby c1930

RRS William Scoresby in dry dock


14 May 1935 berthed at London after eight months marking whales in the Antarctic

19 October 1935 Captain Claude R U Boothby (Lieutenant RNR) reappointed in command

23 October 1935 sailed St Katherines Dock, London for Cape Town 

31 December 1935 the Hartlepool Northern Daily Mail reported –


31 12 1935 Hartleppol Nor Daily Mail W. Scoresby


3 April 1936 berthed at Cape Town from the Antarctic

30 April 1936 berthed at Dakar sailing the same day for London

14 May 1936 berthed at St Katherine’s Dock, London

20 October 1936 sailed St Katherine’s Dock, London for St Vincent, Cape Verde Islands. Captain Ronald C Freaker (Lieutenant RNR) in command

21 October 1936 the Scotsman newspaper reported …


21 10 1936 Scotsman W Scoresby


27 November 1936 sailed Cape Town for Antarctica


RFA William Scoresby

RRS William Scoresby at Cape Town on
27 November 1936 
Image courtesy of Iziko Museums, John H. Marsh Maritime Research Centre
Cape Town, South Africa

7 May 1937 berthed at St Katherines Dock, London after 6 months in the South Atlantic

16 September 1937 sailed London for the South Atlantic – Captain Ronald C Freaker (Lieutenant RNR) was in command. Mr Bernard Doles appointed as Chief Engineer Officer


WScoresby sail sept 1937


27 September 1937 sailed from St. Vincent, Cape Verde Islands

14 October 1937 arrived at Montevideo

19 October 1937 sailed Montevideo for South Georgia

30 March 1938 sailed St. Vincent, Cape Verde Islands

13 April 1938 berthed London after six months voyage to the Pacific researching whales

1938 laid up at St Katherine’s Dock, London

October 1939 hired by the Admiralty and commissioned as HMS WILLIAM SCORESBY for service as a minesweeper in the South Atlantic

11 January 1940 Commander Henry Petit-Dann RD Royal Navy Reserve (Retd) appointed in command

1 May 1940 acted as an escort for ships in convoy OG028F which was formed at sea and arrived at Gibraltar on 6 May 1940.

6 May 1940 from Gibraltar sailed to the Falkland Islands

23 January 1941 berthed at Port Stanley on the public jetty

1 February 1941 loaded 85.5 tons of bunker coal

4 February 1941 Articles of War read to the crew

5 February 1941 sailed Port Stanley to Port Louis and returned to Port Stanley the same day

15 February 1941 while returning from her Examination Service duties to Port Stanley her engines seized as she approached the Public Quay. She managed to winch herself alongside

17 February 1941 commenced period of boiler clean and self refit at Port Stanley

7 September 1941 the following members of the crew or former members of the crew awarded the Polar Medal for service on the ship between 1925 to 1939 and reported in AFO 4830 of this date


Arctic Medal in Bronze both sides Dix Noonan Webb

Polar Medal in Bronze
©Dix Noonan Webb


Clasp to the Polar Medal (Posthumous)


Engineer Lieutenant-Commander Ault Horton, Royal Navy (retired)


Clasp to the Polar Medal


James William Slessor Marr Esq., MA., B.Sc. (now Temporary Lieutenant RNVR)


The Polar Medal (Bronze, Posthumous)


Eustace Rolfe Gunther, Esq., MA.,


The Polar Medal (Bronze)


Lieutenant-Commander Richard Laurence Vere Shannon, Royal Navy (Retired)

Lieutenant-Commander Ronald Clifford Freaker DSO, RNR

Lieutenant Leonard Charles Hill OBE, RNR

Lieutenant Archibald Frederick Macfie OBE, RNR

Temporary Lieutenant Claude Reginald Underwood Boothby RNR

Lieutenant Thomas Herbert Beveridge Oates Royal Navy

Mr David Roy, Commissioned Engineer, Royal Navy (Retired)

George Edward Raven Deacon Esq., DSc

Thomas John Hart Esq., DSc

David Dilwyn John Esq., MSc

Stanley Wells Kemp Esq., ScD., FRS

Alex Hibburd Laurie Esq., MA (now Temporary Lieutenant RNVR)

Neil Alison Mackintosh Esq., DSc ARCS

George WIlliam Rayner Esq., BSc (now Temporary Lieutenant RNVR)

Bernard Dales Esq.

Gilbert Stuart Hunter Esq.

Andrew Nichol Porteous Esq., (Second Engineer Officer RFA)

Frank Douglas Swan Esq., (now Engineer Sub-Lieutenant RNVR)

John Fleming Warnock Esq.

Cecil Douglas Buchanan Esq (Fourth Engineer Officer RFA)

John Cargill, Able Seaman (the Boatswain)

W O Clark, Stoker

James Edward Butler Farrington, Telegraphist

William Henry Hellyar, Assistant Steward

Edwin Chales Hum, Sailor

James Charles Jameson, Able Seaman

William Reid Johnston, Able Seaman

William Rhodes Clarke Kebbell, Chief Cook

Leonard George Marshall, Stoker

Walter Marshall, Able Seaman (Leading Fireman)

William Mathieson, Fireman

Joseph Reid, Able Seaman

Horace William Sandford, Fireman

D. Stegmann, Able Seaman

James Sutherland, Engine Room Artificer

Leslie Taylor, Ordinary Seaman

William White, Able Seaman

John Whittaker, Steward

Albert Edward Wyatt, Assistant Steward

29 January 1944 sailed from Port Stanley, Falklands Islands to take part in Operation Tabarin which was set up to discourage the use of  Antarctic bases by enemy submarines and commerce raiders and to strengthen British claims to sovereignty over the Falkland Islands Dependencies

3 February 1944 in company with the Falkland Islands mail ship FITZROY, she landed crew and constructed a base station at Port Foster, Deception Island



Falkland Islands mail ship FITZROY


6 February 1944 sailed Port Foster, Deception Island

7 February 1944 together with the ss FITZROY entered Antartic Sound

11 February 1944 at Port Locknoy, South Shetlands a base was built to report on any enemy submarine action. A radio transmitter was errected for communication with Port Stanley and the new base at Port Foster, Deception Island

17 February 1944 sailed with the ss FITZROY from Port Locknoy

1 March 1944 arrived at Port Stanley, Falkland Islands returning from Operation Tabarin for a boiler clean – (Source – Admiralty War Diary)


Williiam Scoresby N.INT 2

HMS William Scoresby
donated by Gerry Pearce

29 April 1944 sailed Port Stanley, Falkland Islands for docking and refit at Montevideo due 3 May 1944 – (Source – Admiralty War Diary)

23 January 1945 sailed from Port Stanley, Falkland Islands to Deception Island

5 February 1945 anchored at in Whaler’s Bay, Deception Island with ss Fitzroy

9 February 1945 sailed from Deception Island for Port Stanley, Falkland Islands

12 February 1945 arrived at Port Stanley, Falkland Islands

20 February 1945 sailed Port Stanley, Falkland Islands to Coronation Island

6 March 1945 arrived at Deception Island

24 March 1945 arrived at Port Stanley escorting ss Eagle

9 January 1946 sailed Port Stanley, Falkland Islands

14 January 1946 arrived at Hope Bay

17 January 1946 sailed from Port Lockroy together with ss FITZROY

21 January 1946 arrived at Port Stanley, Falkland Islands

27 April 1946 sailed Port Stanley for Montevideo and then the United Kingdom

September 1946 decommissioned as a Royal Naval vessel

24 April 1948 The Sphere newspaper reported …


24 4 1948 The Sphere W Scoresby


1949 major refit

November 1949 purchased by the Admiralty

7 December 1949 the Admiralty Board approved the proposal that she should be run as an RFA and the management fees were recorded as £675.00 p.a.

1 January 1950 Captain Archibald F Macfie (Lieutenant Commander RNR) OBE RD RFA appointed as Master

Capt Archibald F Macfie

Captain Archibald F Macfie (Lieut Comd RNR) OBE RD RFA
in about 1922

11 January 1950 sailed Shadwell Dock, London for 10 months of research into whales off the west coast of Australia

13 January 1950 berthed at No 2 jetty, South Yard, Devonport to refuel

17 January 1950 sailed Devonport

28 January 1950 sailed Devonport

5 February 1950 at Gibraltar berthed alongside RFA PRESTOL. Sailed later the same day

15 February 1950 at Freetown berthed alongside HMS BARITONE

17 February 1950 sailed Freetown

28 February 1950 arrived at Lobito Bay sailing the next day

8 March 1950 arrived at Walvis Bay sailing the next day

16 March 1950 arrived at Simonstown Dock Yard, South Africa

22 April 1950 Chief Cook T McGinn was drunk and abusive to the Third Officer. He was cautioned

26 April 1950 Dr T Hart (Scientific Officer) signed off the ships articles having been admitted to hospital suffering from a nervous break down

29 April 1950 sailed Simonstown Dock Yard, South Africa

3 May 1950 at sea at 33°15S 27°48E Bosuns Mate Thomas W Tempest attempted suicide by jumping overboard – he was rescued and the ship sailed for East London where Bosuns Mate Tempest was admitted into Hospital. The ship sailed the next day

18 May 1950 arrived at Simonstown Dockyard, South Africa. Chief Engineer Officer J S Baty and 2nd Engineer Officer F W Warren discharged ashore having been both medically examined and found unfit to continue serving on the ship

24 May 1950 Mr Philip R Watson RFA appointed as Chief Engineer Officer

CEO Philip Ross Watson

Chief Engineer Officer Philp R Watson RFA

1 June 1950 Chief Steward J Leganick landed to Wynberg Military Hospital suffering from a recurrant disorder through which he had been discharged previously from National Service

13 June 1950 sailed Simonstown Dockyard, South Africa

26 June 1950 arrived at Port Louis, Mauritius

27 June 1950 sailed Port Louis, Mauritius

12 July 1950 while crossing the Indian Ocean from Mauritius to Fremantle, W Australia was forced to turn back to Mauritius due to very heavy seas and having insufficient fuel to complete the journey – reported in ‘The Western Australian’ Newspaper of 25 July 1950

17 July 1950 sailed Port Louis, Mauritius

9 August 1950 arrived at Durban

17 August 1950 sailed Durban

21 August 1950 arrived at Durban

2 September 1950 sailed Durban

9 September 1950 arrived at Simonstown Dock Yard, South Africa

19 September 1950 sailed Simonstown Dock Yard, South Africa

4 October 1950 arrived at Walvis Bay

6 October 1950 sailed Walvis Bay

21 October 1950 arrived at Lagos, Nigeria

25 October 1950 sailed Lagos, Nigeria

29 October 1950 grant of the charter incorporating the National Oceanographic Council was approved

31 October 1950 arrived at Freetown

3 November 1950 sailed Freetown

14 November 1950 at sea at 38°04N 11°05W Leading Stoker Alfred George Alcock discharged dead having suffered a stroke


Leading Stoker Alfred George Alcock


18 November 1950 arrived Devonport and laid up

26 February 1951 transferred to the ownership of the National Oceanographic Council name unchanged.

January 1953 on the Disposal List and was offered for sale for £2,500

20 May 1954 purchased by BISCO for £1,900 for demolition and was allocated to Demmelweek & Reading and was broken up in Sutton Harbour, Plymouth. A further £600 was obtained for her radio equipment