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Explosion of the RFA Bedenham

NAV Bedenham
the former RFA Bedenham c1950
Name: Bedenham
Owner: Admiralty
Operator: Naval Armament Department
Builder: Ailsa Shibuilding, Troon.
Completed: 1938
Out of service: 1951
Fate: Exploded at Gun Wharf, Gibraltar
General characteristics
Class & type: Naval armament carrier
Tonnage: 1191 GRT
Length: 230 ft (70 m)
Beam: 37.5 ft (11.4 m)
Depth: 16.5 feet
Propulsion: Steam triple expansion
Speed: 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph) loaded

The Naval Armament vessel formerly RFA Bedenham was a naval armament carrier that exploded while docked in Gibraltar on 27 April 1951, killing 13 people and causing a great deal of damage to the town.[1]


  • Cause of the explosion 1
  • Casualties 2
  • Effect of the explosion 3
  • References 4

Cause of the explosion

The Bedenham had arrived in bow was blown out of the water and onto Gun Wharf, while the rest of the ship sank.[3]


13 people were killed in the explosion, including

  • Benady, Tito (1992) The Royal Navy at Gibraltar, pp. 221–222. ISBN 0-907771-49-1
  • Hebblethwaite, Marion (2006) One Step Further: Those Whose Gallantry Was Rewarded with the George Cross, ISBN 0-9546917-6-8
  • Jackson, William (1987) Rock of the Gibraltarians: A History of Gibraltar, p. 297. ISBN 0-8386-3237-8
  1. ^ a b c d
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b RFA Bedenham, at the RFA Historical site, retrieved 5 April 2015


The remains of the Bedenham were towed to the Tyne where they were scrapped.[3]

The Admiralty accepted full responsibility for the damage, and approximately £250,000 in Gibraltar pounds was paid out in indemnity.[1]

In addition to the human casualties, many of Gibraltar's buildings suffered substantial damage in the explosion, including the Cathedral of St. Mary the Crowned, the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, and the Convent (the official residence of the Governor of Gibraltar). Another effect of the explosion was to delay the programme of housing necessary for the Gibraltarians who had been repatriated following their evacuation during World War II.

Effect of the explosion

The crew of the Bedenham had already abandoned the ship by the time of the explosion, with the exception of the Captain and the Naval Armament Supply Officer, both of whom were blown into the water but subsequently rescued.[1]

, then known as the British Military Hospital Gibraltar. Royal Naval Hospital Gibraltar were killed by flying debris. One fire fighter was injured. Dock overseer Salvador Bula was injured by the explosion but managed to get others who were injured by the blast to safety. Hundreds were injured and had to be taken to the Ragged Staff Road for his bravery in attempting to extinguish the fire. The King's Police and Fire Services Medal (for Gallantry) was posthumously awarded to Albert Alexander Indoe, Chief Fire Officer HM Dockyard, Gibraltar. Two dock workers and two traders on nearby [1]

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