RFA Reliant (1)



RFA Reliant 1


Lower image - RFA Reliant (1) at Mombassa in 1942. The image has been kindly donated by Andrew Gourlay from the collection of Captain Charles H Noel OBE RFA who was the ships Master at the time this was taken


Previous name:                      LONDON IMPORTER

Subsequent name:           ANTHONY G., FIRDAUSA

Official Number:                      147557

Class:                                     Fleet Store Ship

Pennant No:                           X25 / A 230

Laid down:                             30 October 1920
Builder:                                  Furness, Haverton Hill
Launched:                              25 November 1922
Into Service:                           23 March 1933
Out of service:                        12 March 1948


Items of historic interest involving this ship: -


Background Data:  She was originally built for the Furness Line and was used mainly on their North Pacific service from the U.K. After purchase by the Admiralty for conversion into a Fleet Store Ship primarily for the Mediterranean supply service with naval and victual ling and some NAAFI stores, with considerable refrigerated stowage, it was desired to rename her PERTHSHIRE as this had become a well-known name in the Mediterranean Fleet, but the name was already in use in the commercial world, as was the second choice name RELIANCE


30 October 1920 laid down as BAY STATE which was later changed to INDIANA

25 November 1922 launched by Furness Shipbuilding Co Ltd, Haverton Hill as Yard Nr 33 named  LONDON IMPORTER for Furness, Withy & Co Ltd, London

December 1923 completed

24 December 1923 sailed Swansea to Vancouver, Canada via Panama, Los Angeles and San Francisco with 4 passengers. Captain J M Williamson was Master



SS London Importer prior to entering service as RFA Reliant (1)


24 January 1924 berthed at Los Angeles

29 April 1924 sailed Manchester to Vancouver, Canada via Panama with 12 passengers

30 September 1924 sailed San Francisco

9 November 1924 passed the Lloyds Signal Station on the Lizard sailing west

22 November 1924 sailed Manchester to Vancouver, Canada via Panama and San Francisco with 9 passengers

24 December 1924 berthed at San Francisco

13 January 1925 sailed Seattle

20 January 1925 sailed Portland, Oregon

2 March 1925 passed the Lloyds Signal Station on the Lizard sailing west

21 March 1925 sailed Manchester to Vancouver, Canada via Panama and San Francisco with 10 passengers

27 June 1925 passed the Lloyds Signal Station on the Lizard sailing west

10 October 1925 sailed Manchester to Vancouver, Canada via Panama and San Francisco with 8 passengers

8 February 1926 sailed Manchester to Vancouver, Canada via Panama and San Francisco with 11 passengers

4 June 1926 arrived at Glasgow

9 June 1926 sailed Manchester to Vancouver, Canada via Panama and San Francisco with 12 passengers

24 September 1926 arrived at Glasgow from Vancouver

29 September 1926 sailed Glasgow

1 October 1926 sailed Manchester to Vancouver, Canada via Panama and San Francisco with 12 passengers

22 January 1927 sailed Manchester to Vancouver, Canada via Panama, Los Angles and San Francisco with 10 passengers

18 May 1927 sailed Liverpool to Vancouver, Canada via Panama, Los Angles and San Francisco with 11 passengers

23 May 1927 radioed that she was in a position 360 miles northwest of the Azores and she had sighted an aircraft believed to contain the Marchese de Pinedo who was flying round the Atlantic and was overdue in the Azores- reported in the Times 24 May 1927

29 May 1927 at 19.33N 65.26W Chief Officer George Lusty discharged dead - heart failure

26 August 1927 arrived at Glasgow from Vancouver, BC, Canada

7 September 1927 sailed Manchester to Vancouver, BC, Canada via Panama, Los Angles and San Francisco with 11 passengers

31 December 1927 sailed Glasgow for Vancouver, BC

4 February 1928 berthed at Los Angeles

18 August 1928 sailed Glasgow for Vancouver, BC

16 November 1928 berthed at London docks from Canada and the USA with 5 passengers and 1 DBS

30 March 1929 berthed at London Docks from Vancouver BC Canada, Los Angles with 8 passengers and 3 DBS

15 April 1929 berthed at Glasgow

30 April 1929 in collision with steam ship Merganser on the River Clyde near Shield Hall. Both ships suffered damage and the London Importer which was on passage down river to Manchester to complete loading for Vancouver under the care of two tugs had to return to her berth for repairs

31 July 1929 passed the Lloyds Signal Station on the Lizard sailing east

17 August 1929 arrived at Glasgow from Vancouver, Canada

24 August 1929 sailed Glasgow for Vancouver, Canada

27 October 1929 sailed San Diego, California for London

23 November 1929 berthed at London docks from Canada and the USA with 5 passengers

10 December 1929 berthed at Glasgow

24 March 1930 berthed at London docks from Canada and the USA with 8 passengers

20 March 1933 Captain Alexander H Hardy RFA appointed as Master and Mr M N Carlyle RFA appointed as Chief Engineer Officer



Captain Hardy before his promotion
Courtesy Nancy Hardy with thanks

24 March 1933 purchased by the Admiralty for £46,000 and converted into a Fleet Store Ship renamed RELIANT (1)

24 April 1933 at the Port of London

7 July 1933 at Malta

22 July 1933 at Trieste

February 1934 replaced RFA PERTHSHIRE as the Mediterranean Fleet Supply Ship, based at Malta

10 March 1934 arrived at Gibraltar

7 April 1934 arrived at San Remo

19 April 1934 arrived at Bormes Roads

23 April 1934 arrived at Malta

7 May 1934 at Malta

3 July 1934 sailed Malta

5 July 1934 arrived at Dragamesti

13 July 1934 sailed Argostoli, Greece

20 July 1934 arrived at Zaverda and then sailed the same day for Port Tigani

22 July 1934 arrived at Samos

9 August 1934 Captain W Frost RFA appointed as Master

11 August 1934 sailed Navarin for Malta

3 September 1934 sailed Malta for Trieste

13 September 1934 arrived at Abbazia

14 September 1934 arrived at Lussin Piccolo

26 September 1934 arrived at Split

13 March 1935 arrived at Gibraltar

29 August 1935 sailed Malta for Haifa

18 December 1935 sailed Alexandria for Malta

15 February 1936 arrived at Alexandria

4 May 1936 arrived at Haifa

12 September 1936 Captain John H Jones RFA appointed as Master


Capt John H Jones

Captain John H Jones RFA

1937 was fitted for defensive armament

29 January 1937 Mr Clifford N Ansell RFA appointed as Chief Engineer Officer

12 March 1937 arrived at Gibraltar

8 August 1937 at Grand Harbour, Malta during the RFA Aquatic Sports the Lifeboat race was won by a crew from RFA BRAMBLELEAF (1), the crew from RFA CHERRYLEAF (1) were second and the crew from RFA MAINE (3) came third. The aggregate cup was won by RFA RELIANT (1). The Life saving was won by RFA RELIANT (1) 

5 September 1937 Junior Engineer Officer John Marshall Hebenton RFA aged 27 years discharged dead having committed suicide. He is buried in Kalkara Royal Naval Cemetery, Malta. He had previously served on RFA PLUMLEAF (1)



Image courtesy British War Graves with thanks

5 September 1937 sailed Malta with the Mediterrean Fleet on their Autumn Cruise returning to Malta on 25 October 1937 visiting Milo, Syra, Skiatos, Mudros, Icrissos Bay, Aedipsos,Stylis, Famagusta, Beirut, Haifa, Port Said and Alexandria

15 November 1937 arrived at Arzeu

18 November 1937 sailed Oran

1938 alterations and additions included the provision of additional ’tween decks

10 March 1938 berthed at Gibraltar from Malta to discharge naval stores

4 August 1938 arrived at Abazzia

8 August 1938 sailed Abazzia for Crikvenika

14 August 1938 arrived at Korcula

15 August 1938 sailed Korcula for Corfu

RFA Reliant at Navarino Greece 1938

RFA Reliant (1) at Navarino, Greece in 1938
kindly donated by Gordon Cutting

21 August 1938 sailed Patros

26 February 1939 sailed Malta for Gibraltar

2 March 1939 to 20 March 1939 at Gibraltar

24 March 1939 berthed at Malta

26 May 1939 Captain Reginald C E Neyroud RFA appointed as Master

11 July 1939 Mr Edward B Morton RFA appointed Chief Engineer Officer

CEO E B Morton

Chief Engineer Officer Edward B Morton RFA

1 August 1940 Captain Charles H Noel RFA appointed as Master



Captain Charles H Noel RFA


26 September 1940 at Alexandria, Egypt suplying naval stores to HMS ILLUSTRIOUS

17 March 1941 at 64 General Hospital, Alexandria Greaser Frederick W Haines discharged dead - kidney failure

27 July 1941 on RFA MAINE (3) at Alexandria from RFA RELIANT (1) Assistant Steward Hector Micallef discharged dead - stroke

17 October 1941 one of her Officers, who had been transferred to the British tanker PASS OF BALMAHA on C-in-C Malta’s instructions to complete its complement  was killed when the latter was torpedoed and sunk by German submarine U-97 about 50 miles W of Alexandria. Another Officer from RFA SLAVOL was also killed

1942 changed from her regular Maltese crew to U.K. manning 

5 May 1942 Established Storeman Leonard Alfred French appointed to Reliant until 6 September 1942

27 December 1942 sailed Durban to Kilindari escorted by HMS CATTERICK

2 January 1943 arrived at Kilind1ni

10 April 1943 sailed Kilindini returning later the same day

22 April 1943 sailed Kilindini independently to Aden arriving 29 April 1943

29 April 1943 sailed Aden independently to Suez arriving 4 May 1943 to join the Levant Station

26 May 1943 Mr David L Walls  RFA appointed Chief Engineer Officer

13 July 1943 sailed Port Said independently to Alexandria arriving the next day

17 July 1943 underwent DEMS work at Alexandria

28 July 1943 sailed Alexandria in convoy GUS11 to Malta GC arriving on 3 August 1943

15 August 1943 sailed Malta GC in convoy GUS12 to Bizerta arriving on 17 August 1943 and then back to Malta GC 

19 August 1943 sailed Malta in convoy MKS22 to Bizerta arriving 21 August 1943

12 September 1943 sailed Algiers in convoy KMS25 to Bizerta arriving 15 September 1943

17 September 1943 sailed Bizerta to Malta GC arriving 19 September 1943

13 October 1943 Captain A Spencer RFA appointed as Master

10 November 1943 sailed Taranto in convoy HA8 to Malta arriving 13 November 1943

7 December 1943 sailed Malta GC in convoy MKS33 to Bizerta arriving 9 December 1943

28 April 1944 sailed Messina in convoy VN36 to Naples arriving 29 April 1944

6 July 1944 in collision with the American SS ROBERT M.T. HUNTER at Naples

21 December 1944 sailed Gibraltar in convoy MKS72G in ballast to Liverpool arriving 30 December 1944

18 May 1945 Mr Robert Blacklock RFA appointed Chief Engineer Officer

2 September 1945 at Moascar, Ismailia Seaman Hussain Bhai Ebrahim discharged dead - pulmonary tuberculosis

10 December 1945 Deck Cassab Ebrahim Esmail discharged dead at Singapore having died from a heart attack

12 November 1946 at Colombo, Ceylon 3rd Officer Charles Reid Faloon discharged dead with haematemesis. He was buried in Liveramentu Cemetery, Colombo in Plot 2 Row A Grave 6


3rd Off Charles R Faloon


20 November 1946 Seaman (2nd Class) Jaffer Ayook discharged dead - coronary thrombosis. He is remembered with pride on the Liverpool Naval Memorial

20 September 1947 Mr M N Carlyle RFA appointed Chief Engineer Officer

28 October 1947 berthed at Palmers, Hebburn, River Tyne in refit

5 December 1947 Captain Charles H Noel OBE RFA appointed as Master

12 December 1947 berthed on the T.I.C. Quay, River Tyne together with RFA WAVE RULER

28 August 1947 2nd Engineer Officer George McBain RFA promoted Chief Engineer Officer and remained on the ship

12 March 1948 to Ministry of Transport for disposal at Garloch 

19 May 1948 purchased by Malta Cross Steamship Co (Anthony Griseti & Son,  Managers).Valetta

23 August 1948 renamed ANTHONY G by her owners

1949 purchased by East and West Steamship Co (Ardshire R. Cowasjee, Manager) Karachi.

19 April 1949 renamed FIRDAUSA by her owners

8 June 1955 passed the Lloyds Signal Station at Dover sailing westwards

3 January 1957 at Singapore

April 1963  broken up Karachi




1.             LONDON IMPORTER was one of a class of 6 turbine steamers delivered by Furness Shipbuilding Co in 1922 and 1923. They were initially employed on the North Atlantic service but the developing recession, American-subsidised competition and their high fuel consumption led to the withdrawal of all apart from MANCHESTER REGIMENT.

 2.             PASS OF BALMAHA was carrying a full cargo of petrol from Alexandria to Tobruk as the petrol was vital to the survival of the British Forces there. 3/0 Joseph A. Condy signed on the tanker as 2/0 and was one of the 18 crew who were killed when the ship disintegrated in a ball of fire




RFA Reliant (2)



Reproduced with permission of the MOD

RFA Reliant 2


Previous name:                        SOMERSBY
Subsequent name: 

Official Number:                       180097                                                                              

Class:                                     Aviation Stores /Victualling Stores Issuing Ship

Pennant No:                            A84

Laid down:
Builder:                                   Laing, Depford Yard
Launched:                                9 September 1953
Into Service:                            11 August 1957
Out of service:                         7 May 1976
Fate:                                       Broken Up


Items of historic interest involving this ship: -


Background Data:  She was originally designed as a cargo liner for Ropner Shipping Co, Darlington for the carriage of grain on the U.K. - Gulf of Mexico route and could also carry up to 12 passengers. She entered this service in March 1954 named SOMERSBY but due to uneconomical trading was turned over to tramping in 1956. She was chartered by the Admiralty for a 3 month period that year and the following year was purchased by them. After a quick docking and repairs, she entered service as RFA SOMERSBY on freighting duties and was used for the destoring of Trincomalee after the base there was handed over. In 1958 the first stage of her conversion into a Stores Issuing Ship was carried out which lasted for seven months and she then rejoined the Fleet named RFA RELIANT(2). During 1960, the 2nd stage of her conversion was completed. Her long forecastle, central superstructure and evenly-distributed kingposts earned her the reputation as the RFA’s yacht, and for the sake of her appearance, she was exempted from the colour scheme adopted in 1969 and did not have the black top smoke band around her funnel. She was extensively equipped for replenishment at sea with 6 RAS points, carried 2 x 42 ft naval storing tenders and had a limited VERTREP capability


9 September 1953 launched by Sir James Laing & Sons Ltd, Sunderland as Yard Nr: 801 named SOMERSBY for Ropner Shipping Co Ltd, (Sir Robert Ropner & Co (Management) Ltd, Managers), Darlington

4 March 1954 completed

May 1956 turned over to tramping duties but was found to be unsuitable

20 June 1956 at Leith Docks with a cargo of Sulpur - 900 local dockers went on strike as they claimed the cargo was "detrimental to health" and sought pay of £4 per 8 hours tour of duty plus double manning. 17 ships were idle



mv Somersby prior to entering RFA Service


August 1956 requisitioned by the Admiralty for duty with British Forces in Operation Musketeer - the Suez Crisis. She was on of 70 additional British merchant ships for this service. Britain also recalled seven former LST's which were out on commercial charter at the time

1 August 1957 arrived at Smith’s Dockyard Co Ltd, North Shields for examination

4 August 1957 Mr W E Young RFA appointed as Chief Engineer Officer

11 August 1957 first RFA Crew appointments were made and she entered service as RFA SOMERSBY, on freighting duties and was also used in connection with the destoring of the former Naval base at Trincomalee when it closed.

1957 - 1960 supported Operation Grapple - the British H-bomb tests at Christmas Island in the Pacific Ocean - along with 16 other RFA’s




February 1958 arrived at Smith’s Dock, North Shields for Stage One of her conversion. Much internal reshaping was undertaken with the addition of another steel deck; refitting her six holds with specially designed shelving, storage bins and trays and 700 tons of  ballast; extra accommodation was created and fully air conditioned for tropical service, naval radio equipment was fitted;; generating capacity was increased and RAS fittings and automatic tensioning winches were added

11 August 1958 Captain Howard D Gausden DSO OBE RFA appointed as Master

Captain Howard D Gausden

Captain Howard D Gausden DSO OBE RFA
image taken in 1919 when an Apprentice

September 1958 stage One of her conversion was completed

8 September 1958 sailed from the Tyne for Rosyth arriving the next day

23 September 1958 formally renamed RFA RELIANT(2) at Rosyth

Reliant in dry dock

RFA RELIANT (2) in dry dock

4 November 1958 sailed Chatham with 1 passenger for the Far East as the Navy’s first Air Stores Issuing Ship, capable of replenishing aircraft and commando carriers at sea as her operational loading was over 30,000 different patterns of aircraft and naval stores items

23 January 1959 visisted Auckland, New Zealand

7 February 1959 to 11 February 1959 with RFA OLNA (2) and HMS ALBION visited Hobart, Tasmania

14 February 1959 berthed at Sydney, NSW together with RFA OLNA (2), HMS's ALBION and COSSACK

24 February 1959 RASed with HMAS MELBOURNE

25 February 1959 off Sydney, NSW RASed with HMAS ANZAC

1 March 1959 sailed from Jervis Bay with RFA OLNA (2), RN and RAN units

12 March 1959 undertook a Heavy Jackstay RAS with HMAS VOYAGER

13 March 1959 RASed with HMAS MELBOURNE

24 March 1959 undertook a Heavy Jackstay RAS with HMAS VOYAGER and other RAN ships

6 April 1959 off Singapore RASed with HMAS ANZAC

7 April 1959 undertook a Heavy Jackstay RAS with HMAS VOYAGER

23 April 1959 undertook a Heavy Jackstay RAS with HMAS VOYAGER

8 October 1959 during passage to Hong Kong was the 'target' for torpedo attacks by HMS SOLEBAY and HMAS ANZAC

10 December 1959 along with RFA's WAVE PRINCE, TIDESURGE (1), RETAINER and HMS's CENTAUR, SOLEBAY, LAGOS, FINNISTERRE, LLANDAFF and ALERT engaged in Queensland Centenary Celebrations

May 1960 became the first RFA to fly a C-in-C Flag - that of Vice Admiral Sir David Luce

August 1960 returned to the U.K. for Stage Two of her conversion by Henry Robb, Leith during which her capability was improved  with refrigeration machinery with 30,300 cu ft of insulated storage being installed. Her operational loading increased to 40,000 different patterns of victualling, NAAFI, aircraft and naval stores and she was restored as an air stores /victualling stores issuing ship. A large helicopter cargo platform was added over her  poop

31 December 1960 Mr E Smeaton RFA appointed as Chief Engineer Officer

March 1961 stage Two of her conversion was completed

6 March 1961 at Rosyth the ship was visited by the First Lord of the Admiralty (Lord Carrington) and the Fourth Sea Lord (Vice Admiral John Villiers OBE)

26 June 1961 sailed Singapore with RFA's RESURGENT and TIDEREACH and HMS VICTORIOUS and other RN units en route to Hong Kong

July 1961 saw service during Operation Vantage - the Kuwait Crisis - along with 12 other RFA’s, during which she  supported the carrier HMS VICTORIOUS

2 September 1961 sailed Singapore with HMS VICTORIOUS and RFA OLNA (2)

1 April 1962 Mr Reginald R Darroch OBE RFA appointed as Chief Engineer Officer


Chief Engineer Officer Reginald R Darroch OBE RFA

22 April 1962 Captain Cyril Alexander DSC RFA appointed as Master

23 April 1962 on arrival at Singapore 10lbs of opium was discovered on board during a search by local Customs Officers - a member of the crew was arrested

21 June 1962 while on passage from Hong Kong to Singapore with RFA's RESURGENT and WAVE MASTER and RN, RAN and RNZN ships took part in Exercise Homerun. RFA WAVE MASTER RAS'ed with all the ships

12 October 1962 RASed with HMNZS Taranaki off Hong Kong

31 March 1963 Mr P Ryan RFA appointed as Chief Engineer Officer

10 June 1963 her Ship’s Badge was officially presented to her

July 1963 accompanied the carrier HMS VICTORIOUS from the U.K. to the Far East along with RFA’s RESURGENT, TIDESPRING and WAVE RULER (1)

28 February 1964 Mr R E Davies RFA appointed as Chief Engineer Officer

11 March 1964 in the Malacca Straits supplied stores to HMAS YARRA by jackstay transfer

9 April 1964 between Pulo Aur and Singapore involved in a Casex A17 with HMS's VICTORIOUS and CAESAR and HMAS PARRAMATTA

28 April 1964 Mr J B Jackson RFA appointed as Chief Engineer Officer

27 May 1964 at Subic Bay, Phillippines with RFA's TIDESPRING (1), WAVE SOVEREIGN, FORT ROSALIE (1) and FORT CHARLOTTE arrived and together with HMAS SUPPLY formed Task Group 490.7. RFA TIDEFLOW which should have joined the Task Group remained at Singapore due to a mechanical breakdown

30 March 1965 Captain J Dines RD RFA appointed as Master

1 April 1965 Naval Stores Assistant Li Fuk pleaded Guilty at Singapore's Third Criminal District Court to possession of 114 lbs. of raw opium. He was fined $15,000 which was not paid and, as a result, he was sentenced in lieu to 3 years imprisonment.

May 1965 in Operation Seahorse, a SEATO maritime operation in the South China Sea, providing replenishment support along with RFA’s TIDEREACH, TIDEPOOL and  RETAINER

17 March 1966 along with RFA’s RESURGENT and TIDEPOOL was in support of the destroyer HMS CAMBRIAN and the frigate HMS PLYMOUTH on the Beira Patrol in the Mozambique Channel

24 May 1966 Mr I M MacFarlane RFA appointed as Chief Engineer Officer

29 June 1966 Captain G O W Evans DSC RFA appointed as Master

4 September 1967 sailed Fremantle with RFA's OLEANDER (4) and OLNA (3) together with HMS's HERMES and MINERVA

1o September 1967 Captain Alf Waters RFA appointed as Master

16 September 1967 off the Cape of Good Hope with RFA's OLEANDER (4) and OLNA (3) together with HMS's HERMES and MINERVA

12 September 1967 Mr W B Jones RFA appointed as Chief Engineer Officer

11 October 1967 was part of TF 318 -  the Aden Task Force - which was formed to cover the final British military withdrawal from that area code named Operation Magister along with nine other RFA’s and was engaged in the final Fleet Review with 5 of the other RFA‘s involved

1 February 1968 off Gan RASed with HMAS YARRA during Exercise Partner

14 February 1968 berthed at G Shed, Victoria Quay, Fremantle with HMS CAMBRIAN outboard of her

9 April 1968 in South China Sea at 14.30N 119.05.5E while towing a splash target for a Flying Sea Vixen XS 579 on sortie from HMS EAGLE crashed while making a Glowrom ground attack on the target. Both crew members of the aircraft - Lieutenant Headley J Williams Royal Navy and Lieutenant Creswell Swann Royal Navy were killed 

11 February 1969 at HMS TERROR sports ground, Singapore Reliant's  6 a side Football team drew against a team from HMAS DUCHESS 'C' 1 goals to 1.

23 August 1969 to 25 August 1969 at Portsmouth Dockyard open to the public during Navy Days. 16,773 members of the public visited the ship

9 December 1969 berthed at Portsmouth

17 June 1971 berthed at Simonstown Dockyard, South Africa

10 August 1971 to 14 August 1971 involved in Exercise Southern Clime One together with RFA's TIDEFLOW and OLNA (3) and various RN and RAN units 

20 August 1971 visited Auckland, New Zealand

31 October 1971 took part in the final steam past of seventeen ships from the RN, RAN, RNZN and RFA in  the Far East Fleet in the Singapore Straits after the closure of the naval base there which also included RFA’s FORT SANDUSKY, GOLD RANGER, OLNA (3), RESOURCE, STROMNESS, TIDEFLOW and TIDEPOOL. Immediately afterwards for 3 hectic days she participated in Operation Curtaincall - a combined RN, RAN, RNZN and RFA Fleet Exercise off the NW coast of Malaysia

15 December 1971 in the Persian Gulf RAS'ed with HMS MINERVA

26 March 1973 arrived Rosyth to be destored and laid up on a care and maintenance basis

February 1974 refitted for further service at Wallsend

6 May 1974 sailed Rosyth for Portland to re-enter operational service

7 November 1975 berthed outboard of m.v. Clan MacNab at Middle Docks during a refit

10 January 1976 sailed Faslane at the start of her final cruise to the USA and back

22 March 1976 conducted her final RAS with the frigate HMS CLEOPATRA

27 April 1976 sailed Gibraltar with her paying-off pennant flying as this was the last foreign port of her commission

2 May 1976 arrived Faslane to discharge most of her cargo

5 May 1976 final departure Faslane

7 May 1976 arrived Rosyth to destore and was then laid up for disposal

28 August 1976 placed on the Disposal List

23 August 1977 arrived for breaking up at Inverkeithing by T.W. Ward Ltd




Was one of the eleven storeships employed in the on Beira Patrol duties



RFA Reliant (3)

RFA Reliant 3


Lower image - RFA Reliant (3) off Limassol - posted with the consent of the Copyright holder


Previous name:                          ASTRONOMER
Subsequent name:                     ADMIRALTY ISLAND,  WEALTHY RIVER

Official Number:                             364436

Class:                                         Aviation Support Ship

Pennant No:                               A131

Laid down:                                  
Builder:                                       Gdanska Lenina, Gdansk
Launched:                                   6 July 1976
Into Service:                               16 November 1983
Out of service:                             25 July 1986


Items of historic interest involving this ship: -


Background Data:  She was the only ship in this Class and was originally built as a container ship for commercial owners. She was requisitioned for service during the Falklands Conflict in 1982 and the following year she was chartered for conversion into an aviation support ship and was fully equipped for her specialised role as a Forward Support Ship, capable of operating 5 RN Sea king helicopters to supplement RN and RAF operations and provided solid stores support for British naval units in the South Atlantic. She was fitted with the modular Arapaho system, leased from the United States. This system was designed by the Americans to quickly convert merchant vessels into aircraft carriers and it consisted of a flight deck, maintenance hangar, fuel supply, accommodation, defensive armament and supporting equipment. The flight deck was formed from large panels that  locked into existing container fittings and was designed for the concurrent operation of 2 Seaking helicopters. The hangar was positioned at the forward end of the flight deck, with its sides constructed from 2 tiers of containers. She had but a short life with the RFA before being disposed of as not really suitable and she was reconverted back into a container ship.


6 July 1976 launched by Stoczniz im Lenina , Gdansk as Yard Nr: B463/101 named ASTRONOMER for Charente Steamship Co Ltd (T & J Harrison Ltd, Managers) Liverpool

20 July 1977 completed at a cost of £9,665,336 as a container ship on the CAROL Line Consortium’s ten day service from the UK and Europe to the Caribbean and Central America.

28 May 1982 arrived Felixstowe and was requisitioned for service during the Falklands Conflict

30 May 1982 sailed Felixstowe for Devonport

31 May 1982 arrived Devonport for conversion into a helicopter support ship which took six days to complete. Between this date and 7 December 1982 the Royal Navy team onboard were officially Navy Party 2140

7 June 1982 sailed Devonport and anchored in Plymouth Sound to embark her helicopters 

8 June 1982 sailed Plymouth Sound for the South Atlantic on Operation Corporate - the Falklands Conflict. Carried out her first RAS with RFA BLACK ROVER

16 June 1982 arrived Ascension Island to refuel

27 June 1982 arrived Port William Sound

July 1982 relieved RFA ENGADINE as the helicopter support ship in the South Atlantic

3 December 1982 returned to Devonport to be decommissioned

January 1983 chartered by the Admiralty for conversion into a helicopter support ship

25 April 1983 arrived Birkenhead for conversion by Cammell Laird Shipbuilders Ltd

16 November 1983 formally renamed RFA RELIANT (3) by Mr A. Kemp DST (SF)

3 December 1983 conversion completed at a cost of  £30m

2 January 1984 sailed Portland for service during Operation Offcut - naval support for British troops in the multi - national force in the Lebanon - and joined RFA‘s BLUE ROVER, BRAMBLELEAF (3) and GREY ROVER

12 January 1984 arrived off the Lebanon and relieved HMS FEARLESS in support of the 115-strong British Peace Keeping Force 

7 February 1984 as the crisis deepened, three of her Seaking helicopters evacuated the British forces

11 February 1984 airlifted 528 civilians from the British Embassy Landing Zone in West Beirut for onward movement to Cyprus with 56 landings onto the ship

23 March 1984 detached for return to the U.K when Operation Offcut was terminated 

5 April 1984 arrived back in Devonport



On arrival at Devonport a Sea King takes off from RFA Reliant (3) - posted with the consent of the Copyright holder


14 June 1984 Captain (X) John B Dickinson RFA appointed as Commanding Officer. The ship was at Plymouth

10 July 1984 Captain (X) Peter J Lannin RFA appointed as Commanding Officer. The ship was at North Shields

31 August 1984 Captain (X) Richard M Thorn RFA appointed as Commanding Officer. The ship was at North Shields

November 1984 returned to South Atlantic on Falklands duties

27 March 1985 at the Falkland Islands

18 April 1985 at the Falkland Islands

13 June 1985 Captain (X) Frederick M Johnson RFA appointed as Commanding Officer. The ship was at the Falkland Islands

27 June 1985 off the Falkland Islands a helicopter from B Flight, 826 Squadron Royal Naval Air Service then embarked crashed and Leading Aircrewman CMN Paul Summers, one of the crew was killed

29 July 1985 at the Falkland Islands

9 September 1985 at the Falkland Islands

7 February 1986 Captain (X) Derek A Reynolds  RFA appointed as Commanding Officer. The ship was at the Falkland Islands

23 July 1986 Captain (X) Richard M Thorn RFA appointed as Commanding Officer. The ship was at Plymouth

25 July 1986 arrived Birkenhead for reconversion to merchant ship status. Her Arapaho gear was removed by Seaforth Welding  Co Ltd., Liverpool and the ship was then purchased by the MoD (N) for resale

11 September 1986 ship advertised for sale 'as lies' at West Canada Dock, Liverpool. A proposed sale to the USA fell through 

27 October 1986 purchased for £1.12m by Parramatta Shipping Co SA, Panama (Miltrend Shipping Co Ltd, Hong Kong, Managers) a subsidiary of Hong Kong Islands Line and was renamed Admiralty Island

April 1989 renamed again as Wealthy River

1990 transferred to Unison Maritime S.A., Panama (China Merchants Steam Navigation International Ship Trade Co Ltd, Taipei, Taiwan) - name unchanged 

1994 owners became Rubimonte Maritime Inc, Panama (Cosco Container Lines, Beijing)    

May 1995 ran aground at North Charleston, South Carolina, USA while in a shipping channel.                  

7 September 1998 arrived for breaking up at Alang, India


Additional information

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