During 1963, the RFA HQ in London began to appreciate that simple communication to RFA personnel afloat about current events in the RFA service was not being covered adequately in the “Naval Store Journal”. This was a two monthly glossy magazine produced for shore store establishments in which the RFA was given ½ page covering mainly Captain and Chief Engineer appointments.

To overcome this lack of internal publicity and communication section 2A of the Naval Store Department then located at the Empress State Building in London produced and distributed a RFA News Letter to ships at sea. This was a 20 to 24 page newsletter “Duplicated” onto softish paper then in vogue with government departments, the heading from news letter number 6 appears below.


During 1963, the RFA HQ in London began to appreciate that simple communication to RFA personnel afloat about current events in the RFA service was not being covered adequately in the “Naval Store Journal”. This was a two monthly glossy magazine produced for shore store establishments in which the RFA was given ½ page covering mainly Captain and Chief Engineer appointments.

To overcome this lack of internal publicity and communication section 2A of the Naval Store Department then located at the Empress State Building in London produced and distributed a RFA News Letter to ships at sea. This was a 20 to 24 page newsletter “Duplicated” onto softish paper then in vogue with government departments, the heading from news letter number 6 appears below.


 

RFA_1963

 

 

The first thing to note is the flag with gold anchor horizontal in the fly, this was changed to vertical about 1968 to distinguish it from the Port Auxiliary Service flag.

This newsletter tried to inform the staff by including the location and operations of most ships with little titbits of information on new ships (in this issue Olwen, Olynthus, Resource and Regent)

I have only seen six of these newsletters and don’t know how long it was published for but there was always a request for articles from staff at sea. Staff at HQ filled up space with their visits to ships and seeing RAS's at first hand.

One of the articles published was about RFA statistics for mid 1962 to mid 1963 which is reproduced below.

It should be remembered that the RFA service of the day consisted of the following ships:-

Tideboats – Tidesurge, Tidereach, Tideflow  in the front line with Tide Austral freighting, Tidepool and Tidespring were not fully in service.

Olna (2) front line RAS

6 Waveboats – Wave Prince, Wave Knight, Wave Ruler, Wave Chief, Wave Baron and Wave Sovereign with Wave Victor at Gan island as a fuelling hulk.

7 Leaf boats, Appleleaf, Bayleaf, Brambleleaf, Cherryleaf, Orangeleaf, Pearleaf and Plumleaf, mainly freighting but with RAS capability.

6 Rangers Coastal and training tankers

Resurgent and Retainer – ammunition and stores ships, Reliant – aircraft stores and stores ship

8 Fort boats, Fort Langley, Fort Sandusky, Fort Dunvegan, Fort Charlotte, Fort Beauharnois, Fort Constantine, Fort Duquesne, Fort Rosalie.

About 4 Eddy boats as harbour oilers, several “xxxOL”s in dockyards

Robert Dundas and Robert Middleton as coastal store carriers

And the new Hebe and Bacchus as stores freighters running to Singapore from Devonport, Chatham, Gibraltar, Malta and Aden.

In the early 1960’s the Navy had changed its fuelling policy from fuelling in harbour to the norm of fuelling at sea. This meant that all ships had to be proficient in the art of RAS and the RFA service carried out all of these duties in addition to escorting groups of ships deep sea where RAS was essential.

To save fuel and money, fuel is taken along side nowadays and do not now spend the days at sea as in days gone by.

It would be interesting, and telling, if any such statistics appertaining to today are published?

 

The article is as follows:-

 

 

RFA STATISTICS


On the first sheet of the RFA performance statistics for 1962/63, issued within the Fuel Branch at the beginning of July, appears the following comment:-

“The measure of success is not whether you have a tough problem, but whether it is the same problem as last year.”

We are not sure whether we have different problems or whether they are old ones in new guises, but the following extracts from the statistics may be of interest –

 

7 LEAF class vessels logged up a total of 641,424 miles, an average of 91,657 per ship. PLUMLEAF led the field with 100,814 miles. The average effective time (expected to be 335 days at sea per year) per ship was again 320 days (and 39 minutes to be precise!) PLUMLEAF also achieved 340 effective days, whilst BRAMBLELEAF had 335, BAYLEAF 334. CHERRYLEAF narrowly missed the target of 330 days with 329 days, 20 hours and 27 minutes.

4 TIDES averaged 158 days at sea in support of HM Ships, and OLNA managed 168 days.  Between them they carried out 865 RAS transactions, issuing on average some 65,000 tons of fuel and 1,000 tons of other stores per ship.

6 WAVES knocked up a total mileage of 240,225 miles on fleet support, and a further 77,385 miles on freighting duties. They carried out a total of 612 RAS transactions and issued over 100,000 tons of fuel to HM ships.

The 5 RANGERS averaged 147 days at sea per ship and carried out 399 RAS transactions. EDDYROCK (as reported in our last issue) also has an entry under the RAS columns. She carried out 9 transactions and issued 1,331 tons of fuel and 14 “other” tons.

The dry-cargo RAs ships were involved in a total of 638 RAS transactions during the year, issuing a total of some 7,500 tons of Naval, Air, Victualling and Armament Stores. RELIANT headed the list in both mileage steamed and quantity of stores issued

RFA’s Bacchus and Hebe , in the part of the year they were in service covered over 70,000 miles at an average speed of over 15 knots, whilst the ROBERTS managed only half this distance all year

The interpretation and comparison of statistics continues to both help and exasperate management. Why, for example, should one ship run farther, faster and longer on less bunkers but perform less work, whilst another runs less far, at a slower speed in less effective days, and yet increases her output?

 

Also in the same news letter was the following paragraph:-

We hear that RFA RELIANT transferred 8 ozs (200grams) of Naval Stores during a RAS on the 1 May last on the Far East Station. We wonder – is this a record ?  Was a heavy jackstay used? Are things taken “lightly” in the Far East?

 

Copyright © 2008 – 2017 Christopher J White

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