The British Pacific and East Indies Fleets

The forgotten fleets that fought the Japanese in the Pacific and Indian Oceans

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Air Store Issuing Ship



Badge issued 1965l

Pennant No. B532 / A230

 

Battle Honours


None
 

 

 

 

Specifications

Builder: Victoria Machinery Depot, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

Displacement: 2,878 GRT

Length: 440 ft

Beam: 57 ft

Draught: 22 ft 9 in

Speed: 11 Knots

 Crew complement: 115

 

Commanding Officers

Not known

 

 

 

 

Related items

None

 

 

 

 

Reminiscences


None
 

 

 

 

Gallery


None
 

 

 

 

M.F.A. FORT LANGLEY

Read aloud  

 

Early history

The ship was laid down on June 22nd 1944 as the “Park” type cargo ship the SS Montebello Park at the shipyard of the Victoria Machinery Depot, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. She was launched on October 31st 1944 she was one of 16 Canadian built Park and Fort class vessels requestioned for conversion into Stores Issuing Ships for the Ministry of War Transport, and the second Air Store Issue Ship (ASIS). She was completed on May 18th 1945 as an Air stores issuing ship under the management of Alfred Holt and Company and renamed the Merchant Fleet Auxiliary (MFA) Fort Langley.
 

Allocated to the British Pacific Fleet

On completion she was fully stored at Victoria with British and American aircraft spares for the five front-line aircraft types in use with the Brutish Pacific Fleet (BPF). When she sailed to join the British Pacific Fleet Air Train, she carried 98% of her store allocation. After calling at San Francisco she sailed for Pearl Harbour on June 24th 1945. She departed Pearl Harbour July 3rd and arrived at Manus in the Admiralty islands on July 16th where she joined the Air Train.

At Manus she became part of the Aviation Repair Organisation and she operated from an anchorage off Pityilu Island joining the Aircraft Component Repair Ship DEER SOUND in support of the Aircraft Maintenance Carriers PIONEER and UNICORN.
 

Post War history

The war ended almost one month to the day after FORT LANGLEY arrived on station, she was to remain at Manus for a further month before sailing for Brisbane, Queensland on September 17th, arriving on the 24th. She spent a month in harbour, possibly operating with the RN Air Repair Yard at Archerfield in Brisbane, HMS NABSFORD. She sailed for Sydney on October 21st, arriving on the 23rd. Here she was prepared for passage to Singapore and sailed from Sydney on November 20th.

From April 1946 she was under contract with the Ministry of Transport and managed by George Nisbet & Co, Glasgow. It is believed she remained at Singapore until she arrived back in Sydney on July 16th 1947. Two months later, on September 16th she sailed for Hong Kong via Singapore. FORT LANGLEY arrived in the UK for the first time in early 1948; at some stage she waas repurposed and converted into a n armaments stores carrier.

She next sailed for a round trip voyage to the Far East and East Africa, calling at Hong Kong on September 15th 1949 and Mombasa on October 20th before sailing for Plymouth via Malta arriving sometime in late December 1949. At the beginning of 1950 she is recorded as making a round trip Plymouth to Malta, arriving there on February 20th and siling to return on the 24th. She arrived t Greenock on the Clyde on April 18th and sailed for Plymouth the following day. After loading stores, she sailed for Ceylon, arriving at Trincomalee on June 1st 1950. She sailed for Kilindini, Kenya on route to Fremantle, Western Australia arriving on November 4th. She operated between Fremantle and Melbourne until sailing from Fremantle for Durban on February 8th 1951. By the start of July 1951 FORT LANGLEY was back on the Clyde, spending some time anchored in Holy Loch.

During the Korean War she operated between Hong Kong and Sasebo, Japan and is recorded as being in Sasebo Harbour during October 1952. She arrived at Singapore on January 25th 1953. She returned to supporting the Commonwealth forces after the armistice had been signed, and was present at Sasebo Harbour in September 1953. On November 5th 1953 she arrived at Hong Kong from Sasebo then sailed for the UK to undergo a refit at Leith, on the Firth of Forth.
 

Transferred to RFA control

On February 23rd 1954 FORT LANGLEY was transferred to Admiralty ownership and management was transferred to the Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) in May 1954, Captain Rowland K Hill OBE, RFA appointed as Master. RFA FORT LANGLEY sailed for Singapore later that year.

Nothing is known of her whereabouts between 1955 and 1959, however on May 4th 1957 Captain Hubert G Carkeet RFA appointed as Master. She next appears operating in the Mediterranean in 1959. She carried out a replenishment at sea (RAS) with HMS BERMUDA off Malta on January 13th and again on the 20th off La Spezia, Italy. The following day BERMUDA’s doctor transferred by light jackstay to FORT LANGLEY to treat an injured crew member, returning later that day. On March 9th she conducted a RAS with the aircraft carrier HMS CENTAUR off Malta.

Having taken part in the NATO exercise ‘Sardex’ in company with the Victualling Stores Issuing Ship RFA FORT DUQUESNE, RFA tankers WAVE VICTOR and WAVE SOVEREIGN she arrived at Malta on completion in June 1959. She took part in Anglo-Spanish exercises in the Western Mediterranean in October of that year operating with HM Ships BIRMINGHAM, DAINTY, DARING and HM Submarine TALLY HO and RFAs FORT DUQUESNE and RFA TIDE AUSTRAL..

RFA FORT LANGLEY and RFA FORT DUQUESNE were jointly awarded the RFA trophy The Bulawayo Cup for their performance during 1959, the award was made by Admiral Sir Alexander N.C. Bingley, Commander in Chief Mediterranean Fleet.

The start of the New Year, 1960 saw the appointment of Captain Frank C Holt RFA as Master On January 14th, however he was replaced one month later by Captain Russell G Edmonds RFA on February 14th. This was also a very short appointment, on May 4th Captain Norman R McLeod RFA was appointed as Master. In turn he too was replaced by Captain J D G Gray RFA on September 14th. By this time RFA FORT LANGLEY appears to have been redeployed to the Far East, probably stationed at Singapore, she is recorded as conducting a RAS with HMS CAPRICE off Tioman Island, Pahang, Malaysia in October 1960.

She is next recorded as being in Plymouth during July of 1961 sailing for Mombasa on November 17th. She carried out a RAS with the Australian aircraft carrier HMAS MELBOURNE on April 29th 1962 while on passage to Manila. She was relieved on station at Mombasa by RFA FORT ROSALIE at RN Armament Depot (RNAD) Mombasa on December 23rd. On completion of her tour, she arrived back in the Uk in 1963, berthed at Millbay Docks, Devonport on March 1st. On April 21st 1963 Captain Robert H Venning RFA appointed as Master. FORT LANGLEY and FORT ROSALIE crossed paths again in October 1963 when they carried out a two-day RAS off the Socotra Islands just outside the Gulf of Aden. RFA FORT LANGLEY arrived at Mombasa in December 1963 to relieve RFA FORT ROSALIE on station. On March 6th 1964 she supplied HMAS YARRA with ammunition by jackstay transfer during exercise ’Jet’. Captain Alf Waters RFA appointed as Master on November 7th 1964.

In January 1965 RFAs FORT LANGLEY, FORT DUQUESNEn ad FORT ROSALIE were amongst the first Royal Fleet Auxiliary vessels to receive an official Admiralty Ship’s Badges.

She returned to the Far East station in early 1965, making headline news on June 3rd when she arrived in Hong Kong and was searched by Customs who found 135 lbs of opium. The ship had arrived from Singapore and three of the Chinese crew were arrested. On August 12th 1964 she supplied HMAS YARRA with ammunition by jackstay transfer off the Johore Shoal Buoy.

During November 1965 she participated in exercises with the RAN and units of the United States Navy off the East Coast of Australia. Royal Navy vessels in the Task Force included the aircraft carried ARK ROYAL, the guided missile destroyer DEVONSHIRE and the frigates EURYALUS, WHITBY and BARROSA, RAN ships included HMAS SYDNEY, destroyers PARAMATTA, ANZAC, DERWENT and YARRA. They were supported by the fleet tanker RFA TIDEREACH and fleet supply ships RFAs FORT LANGLEY and FORT DUQUESNE. Most of the ships arrived in Sydney on November 26. RFA FORT LANGLEY, together with FORT DUQUESNE, berthed at Fremantle, Western Australia on December 3rd and secured to the North Wharf. They sailed together on December 11th for Carnarvon, Western Australia. The ships of the Rn Task Force spent Christmas in Western Australian ports before sailing for Singapore on December 28th. During the summer of 1966 FORT LANGLEY together with Naval Store Issuing Ship RFA FORT DUNVEGAN and tanker RFA TIDESPRING was stationed on the eastern side of Tioman Island, Pahang, Malaysia .
 

Conversion for nuclear weapon transport

She returned to the UK in 1967 to be converted for transporting missiles and other Polaris material in preparation for supporting the Navy’s fleet of Polaris-armed submarines. The work was done at Chatham Dockyard. On August 25th 1967 Captain D de Vere Moulds RFA appointed as Master.

She sailed for the United States in October 1967, arriving at the US Naval Supply Centre at Charleston, South Carolina on November 4th. This was the first of a series of shuttle service runs between the USA and RNAD Coulport, on Loch Long in Argyll, Scotland transporting Polaris material. Captain John Logan RFA appointed as Master on December 31st 1967. While in Glasgow on January 15th 1968 a dockyard crane was felled by very high winds and it toppled onto the FORT LANGLEY causing damage to the superstructure but no one was injured.

It is assumed that she contused to make Atlantic crossing to the US Naval Supply Centre at Charleston, South Carolina; she is next recorded as being at Portland Dockyard, leaving there on May 5th she arrived at RNAD Coulport, Loch Long on the 8th, sailed for Portland on the 9th arriving on the 11th. She sailed again for RNAD Coulport on the 16th, arriving on the 19th. She next sailed for Bermuda on May 21st on route to Charleston, South Carolina where she arrived on June 15th. After loading she sailed for RNAD Coulport on June 19th, arriving on July 3rd. She repeated this voyage twice more; sailing on July 18th, arriving at Charleston on August 12th 1969, arriving back at RNAD, Coulport on the 30th. For her final run she departed RNAD Coulport on September 16th arriving at Charleston on October 6th, she arrived back at RNAD, Coulport on October 27th 1969.

This was her last operational voyage with the RFA; on November 4th she sailed from RNAD, Coulport for Devonport arriving on November 6th to destore pending disposal.
 

Disposal

In February 1970 she was purchased by Marine Salvage Co. Ltd, Port Colbourne, Ontario before being resold to Spanish breakers Hierros Arbulu. She left Devonport under tow on June 17th 1940 bound for Bilbao, Spain where she arrived on July 21st. Work began on reducing her to scrap in August 1970.

 

Last modified: 04 April 2021

 


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The reminiscences of

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