RFA’s Ensign ‘Flies’ Nearly 140 Feet Below the Surface

Nearly 140 feet below the surface of the mid-Atlantic, the standard of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary ‘flies’ for the first time in nearly 74 years.

The Royal Fleet Auxiliary’s Blue Ensign has been raised on the wreck of the tanker Darkdale off St Helena after a successful operation to remove tonnes of oil trapped in it, eliminating the risk of large-scale environmental damage to the island of St Helena.

A Royal Navy team of divers safely removed shells from the tanker’s guns and specialist frogmen, working for the MOD’s Salvage and Marine Operations division, moved in to extract the oil.

Over several weeks they managed to draw out some 1,944 cubic metres of fuel from the shattered remnants of the Darkdale, which lies just off the capital of Jamestown.

The removed fuel is now in a tanker and will be taken away for reprocessing.

The tanker had been stationed off St Helena, providing fuel for passing Royal Navy warships waging the Battle of the Atlantic against the German Navy.

She was torpedoed on the night of October 21-22 1941 by submarine ace Karl-Friedrich Merten in U-68.

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Image: Royal Navy