Reproduced with permission of the MOD


RFA Sir Tristram






Subsequent Name:           TV Tristram

Official Number:                334639                                                                         

Class:                                SIR LANCELOT CLASS Landing Ship Logistics

Pennant No:                      L3505

Laid down:                        14 March 1966  
Builder:                              Hawthorne Leslie, Hebburn
Launched:                         12 December 1966
Into Service:                      1970 
Out of service:                   16 December 2005 


Items of historic interest involving this ship: -


Background Data:   In December 1961 the following announcement was made: War Office Military Supply Ship: “A 6000t ocean-going twin screw military supply vessel has been ordered by the MOT from the Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Co Ltd at Govan, who are to develop the final specifications of the ship, which is expected to cost about £1million. Building will start around February 1962 and the ship is expected to be in service late in 1963 or early in 1964. The design calls for a fast troop and vehicle carrier capable of discharging onto beaches. She will have bow and stern loading facilities for tanks and military vehicles, ramp loading hatches, cargo handling cranes and provision for carrying and launching pontoons. A helicopter will be carried aft, and on completion she will have a Merchant Navy crew and will be managed by the British India Steam Navigation Co Ltd”. In March 1963 it was announced that tenders were to be invited for a further two vessels at a cost of £2 million each and all three  would then replace thirteen former Tank Landing Ships and would be part of an eventual Class of five or six ships, all of which would be named after Knights of the Round Table. The final three vessels were ordered in April 1965, and in December 1968 it was announced that as from January 1970, the management of these six vessels, as well as that of one ex-LST, would be transferred to the RFA


February 1966 laid down as LSL 05

12 December 1966 launched by Hawthorn Leslie Shipbuilders Ltd, Hebburn as Yard Nr: 761 named SIR TRISTRAM for the Ministry of Transport

14 September 1967 completed and placed under management of British India Steam Navigation Co Ltd, London


Sir Tristram Sep 1967

Sir Tristram before RFA service sails from the River Tyne


11 February 1969 the Aberdeen Evening Express reported -


Aberdeen Eve Express 11 2 69 press cutting


19 January 1970 at Tobruk loading military stores, ammuntion, 43 vehicles and 76 passengers during the withdrawl of British Forces from Libya

21 January 1970 sailed Tobruk to the UK to discharge

30 January 1970 management transferred to the RFA

13 February 1970 at Tobruk loading military stores and 65 vehicles during the withdrawl of British Forces from Libya

15 February 1970 sailed Tobruk to Cyprus to discharge

21 February 1970 at Tobruk loading military stores and 43 vehicles during the withdrawl of British Forces from Libya

23 February 1970 sailed Tobruk to Malta to discharge

2 March 1970 at Tobruk loading military stores, 64 vehicles and 42 passengers during the withdrawl of British Forces from Libya

5 March 1970 sailed Tobruk to the UK to discharge

14 June 1970 Captain Barry H Rutterford RFA appointed as Master



Captain Barry H Rutterford RFA


27 October 1970 arrived at Malta from Istanbul, Turkey

29 October 1970 sailed Malta for Marchwood Military Port

6 January 1971 at Singapore

25 January 1971 her Ship’s Badge was officially presented to her

26 January 1972 to 7 February 1972 along with HMS FEARLESS and RFA’s SIR BEDIVERE and SIR GERAINT she was part of the British Amphibious Task Force patrolling off British Honduras to provide an anti-invasion force

29 August 1973 stood by over a minature submarine unable to surface from a depth of 1,500 feet 150 miles SW of Cork while rescue submarines were flown to Cork City.

8 September 1973 with HMS HECATE she stood by a dramatic three day rescue operation of men from  the deep submergence submarine PISCES 111 off the Atlantic coast of Southern Ireland

5 April 1975 at Plymouth

12 June 1975 sailed from Malta

12 September 1975 in Grand Harbour, Malta with various RN ships and RFA's BACCHUS (3), LYNESS, OLNA (3) and SIR GALAHAD (1) after naval exercises

15 September 1975 sailed Grand Harbour, Malta for further naval exercises

28 October 1975 at Marchwood Military Port

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 Official guests from Southampton Ocean Terminal along the lines of ship being reviewed by HM the Queen and returned them to Southampton Ocean Terminal

17 November 1979 berthed at Marchwood Military Port

7 February 1980 berthed at Marchwood Military Port

23 January 1980 berthed at Harwich

24 January 1980 sailed Harwich to Ulrik, Norway

26 January 1980 arrived at Ulrik, Norway for Army winter exercises - unloaded troops and equipment

27 January 1980 sailed Ulrik, Norway

29 January 1980 berthed at Marchwood Military port

13 February 1980 sailed for the Panama Canal

28 February 1980 transitted Panama Canal

12 March 1980 berthed alongside at Prince Rupert to unload dead tanks

14 March 1980 local school children given a conducted tour around the ship by junior officers

15 March 1980 sailed Prince Rupert

17 March 1980 alongside at Vancouver

23 March 1980 the ships officers played a local football team - the ship lost


RFA Sir Tristram's 1980 Football Team

Back row from left to right -

J/RO Robin Hookham - unknown - unknown - Captain R W Wallace (?) - unknown - 1st RO Denver Ambersley - 2nd RO Bruce Davies

Front Row - all unkown

Help to identify the unknowns would be appreciated


24 March 1980 sailed. While on passage south the ship received a signal to divert to Long Beach, CA to pick up 2 Buccaneer aircraft for onward transportation to the UK

28 March 1980 alongside Long Beach, California container berth

2 April 1980 loaded 2 Buccaneer aircraft


Two Buccaneer aircraft awaiting to be loaded onto RFA Sir Tristram


3 April 1980 sailed to  Panama City arriving 12 April 1980 and berthed alongside

14 April 1980 transitted Panama Canal northbound

29 April 1980 berthed at Hull to unload aircraft

30 April 1980 sailed from Hull

1 May 1980 berthed alongside at Marchwood Military Port

6 October 1980 berthed alongside at Marchwood Military Port

31 December 1981 at Marchwood Military Port

10 June 1981 2nd Officer Roger B Thomas discharged dead

2 April 1982 was diverted from Belize to Ascension Island  to join the Amphibious Landing Group for Operation Corporate - the Falklands Conflict

29 April 1982 sailed Ascension Island in company with RFA’s SIR GALAHAD (1), SIR GERAINT, SIR LANCELOT, SIR PERCIVALE and PLUMLEAF (2) and HM ships FEARLESS, INTREPID and ANTELOPE

8 May 1982 entered the TEZ (Total Exclusion Zone) around the Falkland Islands

21 May 1982 entered San Carlos Water with the Amphibious Landing Force

6 June 1982 sailed San Carlos for Fitzroy Creek

7 June 1982 anchored Fitzroy Creek and commenced discharge

8 June 1982 was bombed and extensively damaged by Argentinian Skyhawk aircraft at Port Pleasant, Fitzroy Creek just south of Bluff Cove. She was hit by three bombs - one bomb entered 25 tank starboard and passed through without detonating. One bomb passed across the tank deck entered 25 tank Port where partial detonation occured blowing out, a large plate on the port quarter and causing damage to the forward bulkhead. The third bomb exploded under 25 and 26 tanks rupturing the ships hull. It is believed this bomb also contributed to the combined effects of the other two bombs. Fires soon started in the steering flat above which were pallets of ammunition and the ship was abandoned. She sent her lifeboats to assist in the evacuation of her sister ship RFA SIR GALAHAD nearby. Her crew were evacuated to the LPD’s HMS FEARLESS and HMS INTREPID. She eventually grounded on her stern door and  was afterwards towed off by  her sister ship RFA SIR GERAINT. She was taken around to Port Stanley to be  used as an accommodation  hulk while a decision was made about her future






11 June 1982 her crew together with the survivors from RFA SIR GALAHAD (1) were transferred to STUFT ATLANTIC CAUSEWAY for onward movement to the STUFT BP tanker BRITISH TRENT which transported them to Ascension Island arriving on 23 June 1982 from where they were flown back to RAF Brize Norton in the U.K

16 May 1983 left Port Stanley aboard the Danish heavy-lift semi-submersible DAN LIFTER for the U.K. for rebuilding





13 June 1983 arrived Teeside and was refloated

14 June 1983 was towed to the Tyne for inspection

10 August 1984 the contract to rebuild and lengthen her was awarded to Tyne Shiprepairers Ltd., Wallsend and she entered drydock for a 14 month rebuilding programme

2 October 1985 was awarded her Falkland Islands 1982 Battle Honour at Newcastle by Mr A Kemp DGST (N)

9 October 1985 rebuilding completed and she re-entered service. Dimensions now 442’05”(o.a.) x 58’ 10” x 13’00”. Tonnages now 4775 grt   1930 nrt  2443 dwt.

14 October 1985 visited the Pool of London after rebuild and berthed alongside HMS BELFAST. Captain (X) Robin Green DSC RFA was her Commanding Officer

16 October 1985 while berthed on HMS BELFAST was open to the public for two hours

25 October 1985 Captain (X) Peter J Lannin RFA appointed as Master

Captain Lannin

Captain Peter J Lannin RFA

11 April 1986 at Marchwood Military Port

4 August 1986 at Portsmouth

17 August 1986 at Marchwood Military Port

April 1988 together with RFA SIR PERCIVALE involved in Exercise Dragon Hammer in the Mediterranean

31 August 1988 until 21 September 1988 together with all the other LSL's with the exception of RFA SIR LANCELOT was involved in Exercise Teamwork 88

14 October 1988 at Marchwood and Captain Pat Thompson RFA appointed as Master

4 November 1988 Captain Anthony Pitt DSC RFA appointed in command while also Marine Superintendent RFA HQ at Empress State Building



Captain A F Pitt DSC RFA


22 August 1989 Captain Peter Robinson RFA appointed as Commanding Officer


Capt Peter Robinson

Captain Peter Robinson RFA


6 September 1990 her deployment, and that of RFA SIR GALAHAD (2), to the Gulf area was authorised following the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait

28 September 1990 sailed from Marchwood Military Port for the Persian Gulf

26 November 1990 Captain Brian J Waters RFA appointed as Commanding Officer


Captain Brian Waters

Captain Brian J Waters RFA


28 September 1990 sailed Marchwood Military Port for service during Operation Granby - the Gulf War - carrying armoured repair and  recovery vehicles as well as machinery and supplies for the 7th Armoured Brigade

9 December 1990 sailed Marchwood Military Port bound for Al Jubayl

26 December 1990 suffered heavy weather damage but continued on passage to the Gulf Area

April 1991 arrived home from the Persian Gulf

1991 was awarded the Kuwait 1991 Battle Honour along with ten other RFA‘s

28 July 1991 at Portland

24 March 1992   together with RFA SIR BEDIVERE assisted in returning Royal Marines from Exercises in Norway

17 April 1992 at Portland

24 June 1992 Captain Shane Redmond OBE RFA appointed as Commanding Officer

29 September 1992 Captain Peter Robinson RFA appointed as Commanding Officer

4 January 1993 arrived at and sailed same day from Devonport

16 January 1993 arrived at Devonport

17 January 1993  sailed from Devonport but returned the same day after a fire

19 January 1993 sailed Devonport after repairs

7 April 1993 sailed from Devonport to carry out a compass swing

16 April 1993 arrived at Devonport

23 April 1993 arrived at Devonport

4 May 1993 sailed Devonport together with RFA's SIR BEDIVERE and SIR GERAINT

16 June 1993 arrived at Devonport

4 September 1993 together with RFA SIR BEDIVERE arrived Devonport and sailed the
following day

3 December 1993 berthed at Marchwood Military Port

8 December 1993 sailed from Marchwood Military Port

30 March 1994 berthed at Marchwood Military Port

21 April 1994 sailed from Marchwood Military Port

25 April 1994 arrived at Devonport

April/May 1994 involved in Exercise Dynamic Impact 94 with RFA's SIR GERAINT and RFA SIR GALAHAD (2)

25 May 1994 arrived at Devonport

9 June 1994 berthed at Marchwood Military Port

26 July 1994 berthed at Marchwood Military Port

4 August 1994 sailed from Marchwood Military Port

21 September 1994 berthed at Marchwood Military Port

3 October 1994 sailed Marchwood Military Port

19 October 1994 arrived Devonport

4 November 1994 sailed Devonport

7 Novemner 1994 at Middlesborough

6 February 1995 arrived at Devonport

2 March 1995 on the DG range at Devonport then sailed to sea

26 March 1995 arrived Marchwood Military Port

31 March 1995 sailed from Marchwood Military Port

21 April 1995 arrived and sailed from Devonport

May 1995 in Exercise Destined Glory 95

18 May 1995 arrived at Marchwood Military Port

22 May 1995 Marchwood Military Port

June 1995 in JMC 952

1 July 1995 at Marchwood Military Port

24 July 1995 arrived at Marchwood Military Port

4 August 1995 sailed from Marchwood Military Port

4 September 1995 berthed at Millbay Docks, Plymouth

5 September 1995 sailed from Millbay Docks, Plymouth

15 September 1995 arrived Devonport

21 September 1995 berthed at Marchwood Military Port

9 March 1996 Captain Anthony F Pitt DSC RFA appointed as Commanding Officer

8 June 1996 at Trinidad

25 July 1996 berthed at Marchwood Military Port

November 1996 Captain James Murchie RFA was in command

13 May 1997 on the River Tees

27 August 1997 at Campeltown

18 September 1997 at Portsmouth

11 May 1998 berthed at Marchwood Military Port

12 June 1998 at Loch Ewe

13 July 1998 berthed at Marchwood Military Port

17 December 1998 Humanitarian relief - arrived Marchwood Military Port following a West Indies Deployment which included Operation Tellar - relief operations off the coasts of Honduras and Nicaragua following destruction and floods caused by Hurricane Mitch. She shared  the Wilkinson Sword of Peace award with RFA BLACK ROVER for their outstanding  contribution to humanitarian aid engaged with RN units in Operation Caribbean Fury off the coast of Honduran-Nicaraguan border. An estimated that 20,000 were feared to have died. More than 400 Royal Marines prepared to search for up to 900 people, including many children, stranded on the roofs of flooded villages along the Honduran-Nicaraguan border for the past ten days without food or water

21 November 1999 commenced FOST Training

27 March 2000 sailed Devonport on Aurora 2000 together with RFA SIR BEDIVERE and RFA FORT AUSTIN

May 2000 to April 2003 provided alongside support to British forces in Sierra Leone in Operation Palliser along with RFA’s SIR GERAINT and SIR PERCIVALE at different times. She arrived at Freetown in 04/01

25 June 2000 returned to Devonport on completion of Operation Palliser duties

26 June 2000 at Plymouth and Captain (X) Paul Whyte RFA appointed as Commanding Officer

Captain Paul Whyte on Argus in Faluth

Captain (X) Paul Whyte RFA

30 July 2000 at Marchwood Military Port

4 September 2000 FOST Training

20 September 2000 entered the Pool of London under Tower Bridge to berth on HMS BELFAST and to host the Royal Logistic Corps' Millennium Celebrations. The RLC had various functional stands around the ship representing their various disciplines.

Sir Tristram T Bridge 2000

RFA Sir Tristram passing under Tower Bridge
image kindly donated by Captain Paul Whyte MBE RFA (Rtd)

12 November 2000 part of the Amphibious Ready Group led by the assault ship HMS OCEAN which arrived off the coast of Sierra Leone on Operation Silkman - a high visibility demonstration of the U.K. commitment to Sierra Leone

15 December 2000 at Portsmouth

28 December 2000 at Marchwood Military Port

24 January 2001 Captain (E) Edward M Quigley RFA appointed as Chief Engineer Officer

13 March 2001 deployment to Norway with HMS INVINCIBLE for exercises within the Artic Circle stopped by the Norweigan Goverment due to an outbreak of foot and mouth among catlle and sheep in the West Country and the fear that the troops being carried on both ships might be carriers (details from the Falmouth Packet of this day)

27 March 2001 Captain Shaun Jones RFA appointed as Commanding Officer


Shaun Jones

Captain Shaun Jones RFA


7 April 2001 berthed at Las Palmas

May 2001 at Freetown, Sierra Leone

14 August 2001 at Devonport

18 August 2001 Captain G Jarvis RFA appointed as Commanding Officer

September 2001 engaged on the Argonaut 2001 deployment together with HMS ILLUSTRIOUS, fourteen other Royal Naval Warships and RFA's FORT VICTORIA, BAYLEAF (3), SIR BEDIVERE, SIR PERCIVALE, SIR GALAHAD (2), FORT ROSALIE (2), FORT AUSTIN, OAKLEAF (2) and DILIGENCE

25 December 2001 enaged in Operation Veritas in the Middle East

28 March 2002 at Salalah and Captain Trevor J Iles RFA appointed as Commanding Officer

Capt Trevor Iles

Captain Trevor J Iles RFA

11 July 2002 at Dubai

15 August 2002 on Netley Buoys, Southampton Water

3 September 2002 to 6 September 2002 berthed at Cartagena with RFA's FORT AUSTIN and SIR GALAHAD (2)

10 September 2002 berthed alongside at Portsmouth dockyard

15 January 2003 deployed for service during Operation Telic - the 2nd Gulf War - along with 13 other RFA’s

12 July 2003 berthed at Grand Harbour, Malta with HMS's GRIMSBY, RAMSEY, SHOREHAM and LEDBURY

4 August 2003 returned to Portsmouth on completion of Operation Telic duties

24 June 2003 Humanitarian aid - rescued 27 crewmen from the Egyptian bulk carrier GREEN GLORY on passage from Bombay to Leixoes in Portugal which sank in the Indian Ocean approximately 240 miles off the coast of Oman.and landed them at Djibouti. The survivors were airlifted to her by the Knightrider helicopter from USNS CONCORD also in the area

29 September 2003 at Portsmouth and Captain Trevor J Iles RFA appointed as Commanding Officer

5 January 2004 at Portland

12 March 2004 suffered an engine room fire during the annual Royal Marines exercises in northern Norway. The Royal Marines were evacuated to her nearby sister ship RFA SIR PERCIVALE. No injuries reported

13 March 2004 docked Harstad for damage assessment and repairs

28 June 2004 at Mayport

26 October 2004 RASed with RFA WAVE RULER (2)

Wruler Sir Tris RAS 26 10 04


30 November 2004 Captain (E) Graham Turner RFA appointed as Chief Engineer Officer


CEO Graham Turner

Captain (E) Graham Turner RFA


8 February 2005 Captain Peter Farmer RFA appointed as Commanding Officer


Captain Peter Farner

Captain Peter Farmer RFA

23 March 2005  Captain Peter Farmer RFA appointed as Commanding Officer

28 June 2005 took part in the International Fleet Review for Trafalgar 200 at Spithead along with RFA’s ARGUS, FORT GEORGE, FORT VICTORIA, ORANGELEAF (3), SIR BEDIVERE, SIR GALAHAD (2) and WAVE RULER (2)

7 July 2005 entered dry dock at Inchgreen, Greenock for repairs

22 August 2005 Captain (E) Robert Settle RFA appointed as Chief Engineer Officer


CEO Bob Settle

Captain (E) Robert Settle RFA


7 September 2005 sailed Liverpool after refit

16 December 2005 final voyage from Marchwood Military Port to Portsmouth to lay up. At Portsmouth to destore prior to disposal. Announced this day she was to be converted into a Training Ship for Special Maritime Forces to replace RAME HEAD

March 2006 removed from the Operational List

1 May 2007 sailed Portsmouth in tow of the Spanish-registered tug RED WOLF

2 May 2007 arrived Falmouth Ship Repairers for conversion for her new role as Training Ship for Maritime Special Forces to replace the former escort maintenance ship RAME HEAD, which was moved from her moorings in Portsmouth Harbour to the Dockyard on 23/05/07 so that the Mooring and Salvage Vessel SALMAID could start work on the moorings for the return of  SIR TRISTRAM in her new role. The work undertaken to prepare her for her new role included

  1. Accommodation strip out and removal of asbestos
  2. CCTV installation for range safety reasons
  3. Sanitisation of ships systems
  4. Installation of new power supplied
  5. Installation of class rooms and viewing galleries
  6. Ballistic protection
  7. Water tight integrity ensured for a static role
  8. Long life anti fouling systems to obviate the necessity for docking over a 15 year period
  9. Upgraded ventilation system for smoke and fume extraction

RFA Sir Tristram static

Ex RFA Sir Tristram in her new static role
picture by David Barnicoat


9 June 2007 moorings’ work completed and SALMAID sailed for Devonport

25 June 2007 left No 3 Dry-Dock at Falmouth and berthed on Queens Wharf

22 August 2007 sailed Falmouth under the tow of the Spanish tug Red Wolf for Portland

23 August 2007 arrived Portland at start of her new career



Her name and lifeboat live on - seen at Ouseburn on the River Tyne

© Mark Nugent – RFAHS member


2008 renamed TV Tristram

March 2013 was berthed at Queen's Pier, Portaldn for a refit lasting 6 weeks returning to her moorings in April 2013

24 October 2016 sailed from Portland under tow to Middlesborough for refit

12 December 2016 returned to Portland after her refit and continued in her training role


TV Tristram at her mooring at Portland Harbour

TV TRISTRAM 2 11 1 17 



Was named after one of the 35 Knights of the Round Table in Arthurian legend who was the nephew of King Mark of Cornwall.

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