RFA Cairndale and the hunt for the Bismarck

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dunmunro
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RFA Cairndale and the hunt for the Bismarck

Post by dunmunro » Thu May 24, 2018 5:34 am

I've often wondered why the RN didn't make provision for RFA Oilers to Oil AT Sea RN units during the hunt for Bismarck. Well it turns out that they did:

17 April 1941 berthed at Gibraltar under the escort of HMS/m PANDORA

28 April 1941 in drydock at Gibraltar

25 May 1941 fitted for OAS operations, she sailed from Gibraltar with the store ship City of Dieppe escorted by HMS/m SEVERN to act as the oiler for Force H, the Squadron hunting the German battle cruiser BISMARCK and patrolled in the vicinity of 43°00 N 35°00 W. After the BISMARCK was sunk, she was ordered to return to Gibraltar

30 May 1941 when in position 35°19N 08°33E, 100 miles NW of Casablanca in the Eastern Atlantic under escort of HM corvettes COREOPSIS and FLEUR DE LYS torpedoed with two torpedoes by the Italian submarine Guglielmo Marconi and sank in four minutes. Four members of the crew were killed and have no known grave but the sea. The three who died are remembered with pride on the Tower Hill Memorial and one on the Halifax Memorial, Canada. Her Master and other survivors were saved by the rescue tug HMS ST DAY and were landed at Gibraltar.
http://www.historicalrfa.org/rfa-cairnd ... nformation

dunmunro
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Re: RFA Cairndale and the hunt for the Bismarck

Post by dunmunro » Thu May 24, 2018 7:46 am

From the Admiralty War Diary:
24.5.1941

Oilers Disposition

1 (a) Oiler CAIRNDALE fitted for oiling
at sea, and with scuttling charges has
been sailed from Gibraltar to patrol on
a line 60 miles 225° from 43° 35°.

1 (b) Severn will escort CAIRNDALE who is
expected to reach the patrol line about
31/5.

2. Oiler is being sent to St. Johns, N.F.
Capital ships can be fuelled in emergency
from oiler in Concepcion Bay.

3. There are tankers in convoys HX 187
and 128 with fuel oil.

4. Enquiries are being made whether any
U.S. oiler facilities can be made
available.

5. Oiler SAN ADOLFO has been ordered to
patrol a line 60 miles 225° from position
39° 49°. She should reach this position
about 28/5.

6. Attention is drawn to Chart of Sea
Surface Conditions for May Y 185 recently
issued.

(V.C.N.S., 2030B/24 to C. in C. H.F., CO Force H., etc, etc.)

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wadinga
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Re: RFA Cairndale and the hunt for the Bismarck

Post by wadinga » Thu May 24, 2018 3:25 pm

Hello Dunmunro,

Once more outstanding research work :clap: :clap: :clap:

and the answer to a question

Why Tovey would be interested in weather conditions over the extended Bay of Biscay area?
6. Attention is drawn to Chart of Sea
Surface Conditions for May Y 185 recently
issued.

(V.C.N.S., 2030B/24 to C. in C. H.F., CO Force H., etc, etc.)

The provision of such oilers at sea, and potentially access to fuel in neutral Eire makes the Churchillian hyperbole about being "towed home" the "out of touch" irrelevant, un-informed observation it is. OAS Oiling at Sea (now RAS replenishment at sea) technique in the RN was primitive at the time compared with some other navies and Tovey's complaint was really about lack of fast dedicated naval oilers, that could keep up with the fleet The unfortunate Cairndale was a requisitioned ex Shell tanker capable of a maximum 13 knots. Her initial escort Severn was the submarine Pound offered to add to the confusion around the crippled Bismarck.

All the best

wadinga
"There seems to be something wrong with our bloody ships today!"

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