Reproduced with permission of the MOD
RFA Engadine



Subsequent name:

Official Number:                   334674

Class:                                    Aviation Support / Training Ship

Pennant No:                          K08

Laid down:                            9 August 1965
Builder:                                 Henry Robb, Leith
Launched:                            16 September 1966
Into Service:                         15 December 1967
Out of service:                       Sold out of service February 1990
Fate:                                      7 May 1996 - arrived for breaking up at  Alang, India.


Items of historic interest involving this ship: -


Background Data:


In the early 1960’s, the advent of destroyers and frigates designed to carry their own helicopter flights meant that there was a very great increase in the number of rotary wing aircrew required, as well as a need for maintenance personnel used to working at sea. It was not practical to give operational training to these new aircrew aboard existing aircraft carriers on a long term basis, as this would have disrupted their own programmes too severely. With an increasing number of small ships’ flights to be manned as existing frigates were modified to carry helicopters, it was apparent that a new solution was required. Accordingly in 1964, the Landing Ship LOFOTEN was converted into a temporary helicopter support ship by HM Dockyard Devonport, to act as a flight deck for the training of helicopter crews. Built in 1945 by Blyth Shipbuilding as LST (3) 3027, LOFOTEN became the stop gap measure until a new helicopter support ship could be acquired, funds for this having been earmarked in the 1964-65 Navy Estimates. As a result, an order was placed for a helicopter support ship capable of carrying 3 x Wessex or 4 x Wasp helicopters, together with the necessary spares and equipment for second line servicing, a flight deck with 2 landing spots and accommodation for up to 120 personnel over and above her normal complement. She was to be an RFA because manpower shortages would not allow a big enough crew for an RN ship of equivalent size. The ship was however to be jointly manned by RN and RFA personnel - an idea that was by no means popular at first. RFA ENGADINE became the first RFA vessel to bear the name, although two former RN ships with aviation connections had borne the name previously.  After giving sterling service she was eventually replaced by the much larger RFA ARGUS


18 August 1964 ordered as AHT 01

14 September 1966 Mr J Brett RFA appointed as Chief Engineer Officer

15 September 1966 officially named by Mrs P.G. Sharpe, the wife of Rear Admiral Sharpe DSC, Flag Officer Sea Training but the ships launch was postponed for 24 hours due to 35 knot winds. Her name was derived from the Engadine Valley in Switzerland, hence the two Alpine Horns and edelweiss flowers on the ship’s crest. Her name literally means “ Garden of  the Inn”

16 September 1966 launched by Henry Robb Ltd, Leith - Yard Nr 500 named ENGADINE

19 September 1966 was towed to Rosyth Dockyard for docking

October 1967 original planned completion date

1 October 1967 Captain Charles Stuart Bonshaw Irwin DSO DSC RD RFA (Lieutenant Commander RNR (ret)) appointed as Master

Captain B Irvine

Captain Charles S B Irwin DSO DSC RD RFA
with thanks to Peter Harrison

14 December 1967 completed at a cost of £2,500,000 as her builder’s largest ship

15 December 1967 was accepted into service

18 December 1967 sailed from Leith

20 March 1968 a Wessex HAS3 helicopter No: XP147 experienced problems when attempting to take off from RFA ENGADINE

27 March 1968 the Times newspaper reported -

Times Press Report 28 Mar 1968


9 April 1968 in the English Channel a Wessex Helicoper No: XP152 from 737 Naval Air Squadron which was operating from the ship off Plymouth crashed during a night exercise through engine failure. The pilot was Lieutenant Nordeen USN,  the Observer was Lieutenant Paul R P Madge Royal Navy - source Navy News (October 1968). The helicopter floated inverted and was damaged by waves. The crew were picked by two other Wessex Helicopters. The crashed helicopter was lashed to the side of RFA ENGADINE and then by tug to Plymouth 

30 May 1968 off Portland Wessex HAS1 helicopter No: XP119 when suffered sonar hydraulic failure so sonar bofy assembly lowered onto RFA ENGADINE

20 August 1968 Lieutenant Paul R P Madge Royal Navy was awarded the Queen Commendation for Brave Conduct for rescuing the pilot out of the aircraft - source London Gazette of this day


11 September 1968 damage found on tail rotor blades of Wessex HAS1 No: XM331 prior to flight

1969 was fitted with a small hanger on top of her main one to house 12 pilot less target aircraft drones for use as targets during Fleet Exercises

2 July 1969 carried out the initial Seaking helicopter landing trials with Sikorsky SH3D Helicopter XV373 (prototype Sea King helicopter)

28 July 1969 took part in the Western Fleet Review at Torbay along with RFA‘s LYNESS, OLMEDA and RESOURCE along with the aircraft carrier HMS EAGLE and 34 other warships of the Western Fleet

5 August 1969 to 7 August 1969 carried out further initial Seaking helicopter landing trials with Sikorsky SH3D Helicopter XV373 (prototype Sea King helicopter)

2 October 1969 to 3 October 1969 carried out further initial Seaking helicopter landing trials with Sikorsky SH3D Helicopter XV373 (prototype Sea King helicopter)

4 November 1969 Wessex HAS3 Helicopter No: XP140 suffered engine flame out when landing on RFA ENGADINE

17 December 1969 Wessex HAS3 Helicopter No: XP122 suffered damage to the rotor blade

19 November 1970 to 11 December 1970  Humanitarian assistance - was part of Operation Burlap - the U.K. military relief operation to East Pakistan following extensive damage and flooding caused by a cyclone along with HMS's TRIUMPH. INTREPID, HYDRA and RFA’s SIR GALAHAD (1), RESOURCE, OLWEN (2) and STROMNESS

5 March 1971 at Portland

23 May 1971 berthed at Portland

25 May 1971 received a radio message requesting assistance from the B.P. tanker BRITISH SIGNAL in the South West Approaches and despatched one of her Sea King helicopters with her Doctor to treat the patient aboard after a small explosion had occurred and airlifted another patient and one deceased casualty to Truro

BP British Signal1


6 June 1971 at Plymouth

1 July 1971 at Portland

30 September 1971 at Portland and Captain Barry H Rutterford RFA appointed as Master

 Barry Rutterford

Captain Barry H Rutterford RFA


1971 took members of 39 Regiment, Royal Engineers to land on Rockall in the North Atlantic by helicopter to prepare the rock to receive an automatic navigation light on it's top.

1 December 1971 Captain Barry H Rutterford RFA appointed as Master

3 May 1972 Sea King HAS1 he;icopter no XV649 – from RFA ENGADINE airlifted Skyraider WT121 from Portland Harbour to Portland

June 1972 was involved in the landing and provision of the automatic navigation light on Rockall

Between June 1972 & August 1972 deployed together with RFA's OLWEN, OLNA and OLWEN in Joint Maritime Course 165 in the Moray Firth area

8 January 1973 acted as the base for extended Lynx helicopter sea trials.

18 March 1973 Captain Barry H Rutterford RFA appointed as Master

March 1973 deployed in Joint Maritime Course 167

22 May 1973 Sea King HAS1 helicopter XV646 suffered partial loss of tail rotor control and landed at RNAS Culdrose

5 November 1973 Wessex HAS1 helicoper No: XM871 (410/EN) attached

25 November 1973 RN Helicopters operating from Engadine rescued nine members of the crew of a Cypriot registered ship Armas which had gone aground on rocks off Alderney, Channel Islands. One crew member was not saved

2 December 1973 Sea King HAS1 helicopter no XV649 – returned to RFA ENGADINE with radio altimeter failure whilst dunking at night

February 1975 carried out Harrier VTOL landing trials on her flight deck

22 October 1975 Wessex HAS1 helicopter No: XM927 landed back onboard with loss of transmission oil pressure

14 December 1975 Humanitarian aid - rescued seven crew from the Cypriot-registered GEORGIOS B which sank off the Channel Islands after being abandoned by her crew following engine troubles

1976 deployed during the civil war in the Lebanon as part of the planning for the rescue of British subjects in that country

4 May 1976 when 5.5 miles south of Start Point Wessex HAS1 Helicopter No: XP119 from 737 NAS encountered problem during deck landing practice. The undercarriage collapsed on RFA ENGADINE

1 November 1976 berthed at Keil, Germany

5 December 1976 Wessex HAS3 Helicopter No: XP153 suffered a fire which was extinguished and the heicopter returned to RFA ENGADINE

24 June 1977 to 29 June 1977 took part in the Silver Jubilee Fleet Review at Spithead with eight other RFA's and units of the Royal Navy and foreign navies. Carried members of the press from the South Railway Jetty, Portsmouth along the lines of ship being reviewed by HM the Queen

10 April 1978 sailed Portland to Hamburg, Germany

12 April 1978 berthed at Hamburg

17 April 1978 sailed Hamburg to Portland

19 April 1978 berthed at Portland

24 April 1978 embarked 4 Wessex Helicopters of 737 Squadron

28 April 1978 anchored in Plymouth Sound

1 May 1978 sailed Plymouth for Portland

22 May 1978 embarked Lynx Helicopters

9 June 1978 berthed at Falmouth

12 June 1978 sailed Falmouth for Portland

16 June 1978 berthed alongside at Portland to destore prior to refit

25 June 1978 sailed Portland for Royal Albert Docks, London for refit

20 September 1980 at Southampton

23 February 1981 at Falmouth

23 September 1981 the instructor of a Sea King helicopter of 706 Squadron RNAS while operating from Engadine rescued a seman (LS John Hendren) from HMS/m OCELOT who had been washed overboard. The seaman was recovered to the Engadine - information from David Rogers with thanks

9 November 1981 at Falmouth

8 December 1981 rescued twenty eight members of the crew from MV Melpol. Chief Officer and the Bosun awarded the Queen's Gallantry Medal, four others of the crew were awarded the Queen's Commendation for Brave Conduct

6 April 1982 berthed at Falmouth on Duchy Wharf loading AVCAT, bunkers and naval stores

9 April 1982 sailed Falmouth to the Plymouth Exercise Area

12 April 1982 sailed towards the Clyde Exercise Area

23 April 1982 berthed at Falmouth on Duchy Wharf loading AVCAT

25 April 1982 sailed Falmouth to Plymouth Exercise Area

30 April 1982 berthed at Falmouth on Duchy Wharf

3 May 1982 sailed Falmouth to Devonport 7 Jetty

6 May 1982 at Devonport loading bunkers - 155 tons

10 May 1982 sailed Devonport for Operation Corporate, the Falklands Conflict - with 847 NAS  “A” Flight  comprising 4 x Wessex HU5 embarked. This was her first foray into the  Southern Hemisphere

15 May 1982 arrived Gibraltar en route to the Falklands. Loaded 85 tons of bunkers

16 May 1982 sailed Gibraltar 

25 May 1982 anchored off Ascension Island

26 May 1982 alonside mv Alvega port side to to load bunkers - 216 tons received. Sailed later this day to Operational area

3 June 1982 overflown by an Argentinian Boeing 707 1,000 miles northeast of the Falklands

6 June 1982 entered the Total Exclusion Zone (TEZ) around the Falkland Islands

7 June 1982 operated in the TRALA around the Falkland Islands

9 June 1982 acted as a Wessex helicopter support and refuelling base in San Carlos Water

11 June 1982 loaded 144 tons of bunkers

15 June 1982 in San Carlos Water dragged her anchor. Moved anchorage.

19 June 1982 in San Carlos Water secured alongside RFA BLUE ROVER to receive bunkers - received 160 tons

26 June 1982 at San Carlos Water secured alongside RFA OLNA (3) received 18 tons of bunkers

27 June 1982 arrived Port Stanley

7 July 1982 sailed for the U.K. via San Carlos Water and Ascension Island to embark 825 NAS personnel and a damaged Seaking helicopter, having performed 450 deck fuellings and achieved 1606 deck landings

18 July 1982 arrived off Ascension Island and berthed alongside mv Alvega to load bunkers - 292 tons received

19 July 1982 sailed Ascension Island to Devonport

30 July 1982 arrived Devonport on completion of Operation Corporate duties berthing on No: 1 Jetty

4 August 1982 sailed Devonport to Portland

5 August 1982 berthed at Portland

10 August 1982 sailed Portland to Rosyth

13 August 1982 berthed alongside at Rosyth

16 August 1982 at Rosyth berthed alongside RFA APPLELEAF (3). Captain Freeman gave up command and Chief Officer (X) Smith took over in command

18 August 1982 at Rosyth entered No: 2 dry dock in refit

The ship was awarded the Falklands 1982 battle honour

16 September 1982 flooded out of No: 2 dry dock still in refit

5 June 1983 at Portland

22 July 1983 Chief Petty Officer (D) A Sadler discharged dead

30 November 1983 at Portland

15 December 1983 at Gibraltar

1983 to 1984 during a refit in Gibraltar, her flight deck was widened and lengthened aft by 11.9m to permit 2 Seaking helicopter landing spots

29 August 1984 Her Falkland Islands 1982 Battle Honour was presented to her at sea off Portland  by  Mr K.J. Pritchard DGST (N)

September 1984 Captain John Roddis RFA was in command

17 September 1984 at Hull

9 January 1985 at Falmouth

13 March 1985 at Portland

March 1985 Captain Bruce A Seymour RFA was in command

7 February 1986 at Falmouth

30 July 1986 at Wallsend, River Tyne

3 March 1987 Humanitarian aid - rescued the crew from the Danish coaster HORNESTRAND which had been abandoned by her crew about 34 miles off Portland Bill after fire had been detected in her cargo of dynamite

10 March 1988 Lieutenant Commander Anthony P G Davies Royal Navy and Sub-Lieutenant Richard A Cawthorne Royal Navy while flying from the ship off Portugal in a Westland Lynx HAS 3 serial ZX 243 crashed into the Atlantic Ocean and were both killed. Both bodies and the helicopter were recovered from the sea

November 1988 visited Glasgow

February 1989 commenced destoring at Portland

31 March 1989 after destoring, was laid up at Devonport

June 1989 placed on the Disposal List at Devonport

9 February 1990 towed to Falmouth after sale for £233,000 to Balanced Holdings Ltd (Dido Shipping Co SA (Managers) Piraeus. Name unchanged. Sported a blue funnel and a white  bridge and was registered in St Vincent as a flag of convenience

18 February 1990 arrived Piraeus. Intended new service reported to be from Gulf ports to the west coast of India, Pakistan and Red Sea ports carrying 100 A1 non-perishable cargoes and oil cargoes of FP 60 degrees C and above. This new service never materialised and she was laid up



Engadine laid up at Piraeus


16 April 1996 sailed Piraeus after sale for demolition

7 May 1996 arrived Alang

23 September 1996 demolition begun by Gohilwad Shipbreaking Co.



Ships of the same name


Engadine. A seaplane carrier launched by Denny on the 23 September 1911.  1,676 tons, 316 x 41 feet, armed with 2 x 4 inch guns and 4 – 6 seaplanes.  Requisitioned in 1914 to December 1919.  The ship was lost when it struck a mine in December 1941 as the SS Corrigidor.

Battle Honours for this Vessel: JUTLAND 1916.



Engadine. An aircraft transport of 10,700 tons, 487 x 75 feet launched by Denny on the 26 May 1941.  The ship was armed with 2 x 4 inch and 12 x 20mm guns, 40 aircraft.  Transferred to the Ministry of War Transport on the 6 July 1945 and sold out of service in 1946 to commercial interests who renamed her Clan Buchanan.  Broken up in Spain in November 1962.

Battle Honours for this Vessel: ATLANTIC 1943.


Additional information

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