Rebuilding a legend

On the 8 June 1982, at the height of the Falklands conflict RFA Sir Tristram was in San Carlos Water with her sister ship RFA Sir Galahad when Argentinean Skyhawk jets attacked both ships.


On the 8 June 1982, at the height of the Falklands conflict RFA Sir Tristram was in San Carlos Water with her sister ship RFA Sir Galahad when Argentinean Skyhawk jets attacked both ships.


RFA Sir Tristram

RFA Sir Tristram before the Falklands War


RFA Sir Galahad was struck by three bombs, one of which entered an open hatchway on the foredeck and exploded on the tank deck causing massive damage and loss of life, a second bomb exploded in the ships galley killing one of the Chinese ratings, whilst the third bomb entered the engine room killing Third Engineer Officer Andy Morris. The ship caught fire and was abandoned by her crew and passengers, these fires burned for over a week and it was eventually decided that the ship should be sunk as a war grave to the five RFA crew members and 55 Army casualties who lost their life in the attack.

 At the time of the attack on Sir Galahad, RFA Sir Tristram was anchored a short distance away and she too was attacked by the Argentinean aircraft and two bombs entered the ship, the first passed through the hull whilst the second destroyed the ships after accommodation and killed two members of the crew.

The ship was caught fire and was abandoned, eventually the fire was extinguished but the hulk was not re-boarded and it was not until after hostilities had ceased that the hulk was refloated and towed into Port Stanley where she was used as an accommodation ship.

In 1984 a small group of RFA personnel were sent to the Falklands to prepare the Sir Tristram for passage back to the UK on board the heavy lift ship “MV Dan Lifter”. The following photographs were taken by a former Engineering Officer, Jim Ramsey who was a member of the party sent to retrieve the ship and show her being prepared for the journey, loaded onto the heavy lift ship and her eventual rebuild at Wallsend, where much of the ship was repaired and some parts completely rebuilt, before sailing through Tower Bridge, like a Phoenix rising from the ashes this once proud ship rejoined the fleet and continued to serve until December 2005, when she was finally decommissioned as a Royal Fleet Auxiliary.

At the present moment Sir Tristram is being fitted out to serve as a training ship, and hopefully she will be with us for many years to come.



Bomb exit hole on Sir Tristram

under a winch by the stern ramp



Blast damage to the starboard side bulkhead

aft of the doorway to the crew’s accommodation



Looking forward down the starboard side,

the view is from the Officer’s bar



The flight deck and after

accommodation has been removed



The engine room and an

undamaged main engine



Sir Tristram approaching

Dan Lifter, stern first



Sir Tristram loaded aboard

Dan Lifter ready to leave the Falklands



Sir Tristram on the MV Dan Lifter



Sir Tristram entering the Tyne

on her way to be rebuilt at Wallsend



Sir Tristram in dry dock at Wallsend



A hole on the port side

caused by an exiting UXB



Sir Tristram in dry dock

showing one of her new propellers



Sir Tristram’s new mast

being lowered into position



The new machinery control room



The new officer’s bar


The new ship



The newly re-built Sir Tristram

passing through Tower Bridge




Back to work for RFA Sir Tristram


With grateful thanks to Jim Ramsey for donating these images for the HistoricalRFA web site.