Admiralty Yard Craft Service

Admiralty Yard Craft Service

The Admiralty Yard Craft Service was the civilian service which operated auxiliary vessels for the British Admiralty, mainly in HM Dockyards or the vicinity. It was renamed the Port Auxiliary Service (PAS) between 1960 and 1962, and later the Royal Maritime Auxiliary Service after 1970.

The service operated tugs, harbour ferries, launches, and lighters. Although some of its tugs were classified as ocean-going, it did not operate ocean-going supply vessels, which were the responsibility of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary. The Yard Craft Service crews answered to the Captain's Department in each dockyard.

The Fleet Coaling Service and the Admiralty Dredging Service were separate, but closely related, services. Ratings and engineers often transferred freely between vessels of the three services, although masters and mates had to be rated individually on each of the three types of vessel. The Fleet Coaling Service, renamed the Fleet Fuelling Service sometime between 1914 and 1926, operated harbour and coastal vessels carrying coal and fuel oil to Royal Navy vessels. Its masters did not have to be so highly qualified as the masters of the other two services and were paid considerably lower salaries. The Dredging Service was originally part of the Admiralty Works Department, but later transferred to the Civil Engineer-in-Chief's Department (between 1914 and 1926). By 1947, the other two services had fully amalgamated into the Yard Craft Service.

Vessels of the Service flew the Blue Ensign defaced by the yellow Admiralty anchor badge.



Rated in ascending order of pay scales.


  • Boy[1]
  • Ordinary Seaman[2]
  • Dredger Deckhand
  • Harbourman[3]
  • Able Seaman/Dredger Fireman/Dredger Stoker/Dredger Ladderman
  • Writer/Messenger[4]
  • Stoker/Skilled Harbourman
  • Coaling Master 2nd Class[5]/Leading Stoker/Dredger Engine Driver
  • Chief Stoker/Leading Harbourman
  • Mate[6]
  • Coaling Master 1st Class[7]
  • Engineer 3rd Class[8]
  • Master 2nd Class[9]/Dredger Master[10]/Suction Dredger Navigator[10]/Engineer 2nd Class[8]
  • Master 1st Class[11]
  • Engineer 1st Class[12]
  • Suction Dredger Master and Chief Engineer


  • Boy[13]
  • Stoker 2nd Class[14]
  • Ordinary Seaman[15]
  • Harbourman/Dredger Deckhand
  • Writer Messenger[16]
  • Able Seaman
  • Dredger Stoker/Dredger Fireman/Dredger Ladderman
  • Stoker 1st Class/Skilled Harbourman
  • Wireless Telegraph Operator[17]
  • Leading Stoker
  • Dredger Engine Driver
  • Coaling Master 2nd Class[18]
  • Leading Harbourman
  • Mate
  • Chief Stoker
  • Tug Mate
  • Coaling Master 1st Class
  • Engineer 3rd Class
  • Master 2nd Class/Dredger Master/Suction Dredger Navigator/Engineer 2nd Class
  • Coaling Master C1
  • Master 1st Class[19][20]
  • Engineer 1st Class[19][20]
  • Suction Dredger Master and Chief Engineer

In 1925, all Masters (except Coaling Masters), Mates, and Engineers 1st and 2nd Class were authorised to wear uniforms.[21]


In 1947, there was a reorganisation.

  • The grades of Harbourmen and Writer Messengers were abolished, with Harbourmen being transferred to corresponding Seaman or Stoker grades.
  • Coaling Masters were renamed Coaling Supervisors.
  • Engineers 3rd Class were renamed Mechanicians.
  • Boatswains were introduced as third-in-command of larger tugs, second-in-command of vessels with no Mates, or in charge of certain smaller vessels.
  • All Masters, Mates, Engineers and Coaling Supervisors C1 became salaried and were officially classed as officers.

From 1947, the non-salaried grades were as follows:

  • Boy
  • Ordinary Seaman/Stoker 2nd Class
  • Able Seaman/Stoker 1st Class/Dredger Deckhand/Dredger Fireman
  • Dredger Deckhand (Winch Driver)
  • Dredger Ladderman
  • Leading Stoker/Coaling Supervisor Class 2/Wireless Telegraph Operator
  • Leading Seaman
  • Dredger Crane Driver/Dredger Grab Driver
  • Boatswain/Chief Stoker/Qualified Wireless Telegraph Operator[22]
  • Mechanician/Coaling Supervisor Class 1

These grades were still extant in 1962.


By 1970 the grades were:

  • Seaman Apprentice[23]
  • Ordinary Seaman/Mechanic 2nd Class[24]
  • Able Seaman/Mechanic 1st Class[25]
  • Able Seaman Special
  • Leading Seaman/Leading Stoker/Fuelling Supervisor 2nd Class
  • Chief Stoker/Fuelling Supervisor 1st Class
  • Boatswain/Mechanician


  1. ^ Boy 1st Class and Boy 2nd Class until 1914, when they were merged into a single rating. Boys could join between the ages of 13 (14 from 1914) and 16; at the age of 18 they were automatically promoted to Ordinary Seaman if suitable or discharged if not.
  2. ^ Automatically rated Able Seaman at the age of 24.
  3. ^ Crewed launches and lighters which did not leave the harbour.
  4. ^ Fleet Coaling Service only.
  5. ^ Generally commanded vessels of 500 tons or less.
  6. ^ Had to have served as an Able Seaman or Dredger Deckhand for at least three years.
  7. ^ Generally commanded vessels over 500 tons. Had to have served as a Coaling Mate for at least two years.
  8. ^ a b Had to have served as a stoker or a shore engineering mechanic for at least three years.
  9. ^ Generally commanded vessels of 500 tons or less. Had to have served as a Mate for at least two years.
  10. ^ a b Had to have served as a Dredger Mate for at least two years.
  11. ^ Generally commanded vessels over 500 tons. Had to have served as a Mate for at least two years.
  12. ^ Had to have served as an Engineer 2nd or 3rd Class for at least two years.
  13. ^ Could enter between the ages of 15 and 17. They were promoted to Ordinary Seaman or Stoker 2nd Class at 18 if they had at that time completed two years' service; if at 18 or when two years' service was completed they were not suitable for promotion they were discharged.
  14. ^ Promoted to Stoker 1st Class at the age of 20 if suitable; discharged at 21 if still not suitable for promotion.
  15. ^ Could be promoted to Able Seaman from the age of 20. Automatically promoted to Able Seaman at the age of 24 if suitable, otherwise discharged.
  16. ^ Fleet Fuelling Service only.
  17. ^ Introduced in 1923; previously W/T operators had been serving Royal Navy ratings. Only one civilian W/T Operator was authorised for each of Portsmouth, Devonport, Rosyth and Sheerness (also for Chatham) Dockyards; they maintained the equipment and embarked on any tug that left the port. "Wireless in Dockyard Tugs", The Times, 6 September 1923.
  18. ^ In 1925 were authorised to wear uniforms. "Yard Craft Officers", The Times, 12 June 1925.
  19. ^ a b In 1923 authorised to wear an RN Chief Petty Officer style cap with a cap badge of a pilot jack on a black velvet ground for masters who were qualified pilots and an Admiralty Blue Ensign on a red velvet ground for others. "Yard Craftmen's Uniform", The Times, 24 February 1923.
  20. ^ a b In 1925 received the courtesy status of subordinate officers. "Yard Craft Officers", The Times, 12 June 1925.
  21. ^ "Yard Craft Officers", The Times, 12 June 1925.
  22. ^ Introduced between 1947 and 1955.
  23. ^ Renamed from Boy in 1970.
  24. ^ Renamed from Stoker 2nd Class in 1970.
  25. ^ Renamed from Stoker 1st Class in 1970.


  • Statement of the Decisions of the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty on the Petitions received from the Civilian Employees in HM Dockyards and Naval Establishments at Home in 1914
  • Admiralty, Conditions of Service, Rates of Pay, Allowances etc. of the Ratings Serving in the Yard Craft at HM Dockyards, Victualling Yards etc. at Home, December 1926
  • Admiralty Fleet Order (AFO) 2/62, 5 January 1962

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