RFA Blue Rover




 Reproduced with permission of the MOD


RFA Blue Rover




Subsequent name:              Berrio

Official Number:                  339224

Class:                                  ROVER CLASS Small Fleet Tanker

Pennant No:                        A270

Laid down:
Builder:                                Swan Hunter, Hebburn

Launched:                           11 November 1969
Into Service:                        15 July 1970
Out of service:                     March 1993

Fate:                                    Sold out of Service


Items of historic interest involving this ship: –


Background Data:   In 1967, tenders were invited for what eventually turned out to be 5 ships in this Class. Owing to unsatisfactory performance from the original engines, which had been a political decision, the first three ships in the Class were re-engined in 1974. The final two ships differed slightly from the earlier three and had improved accommodation standards and different stern anchor arrangements


9 July 1969  her Ship’s Badge was officially presented to her

11 November 1969 launched by Swan Hunter Shipbuilders Ltd, Hebburn as Yard Nr: 8 named BLUE ROVER. The Lady Sponsor was Mrs Haynes, the wife of Rear Admiral W.A. Haynes CB, OBE who was Director General Dockyards and Maintenance

9 March 1970  two plumbers were killed in a fire in a fuel tank which was under construction. Lawrence Burdis (aged 24) and John Kinkaid (aged 21) had died when the fire broke out. The fire took 30 firemen 2 hours to extinguish

10 March 1970 the Newcastle Evening Chronicle reported the above thus –


10 3 70 Newcastle Evening Chron Blue Rover


10 March 1970 the Birmingham Post also reported the above fire thus –


10 3 70 Brum Post Blue Rovere


15 July 1970 completed and accepted 3 months later than the original planned date

11 November 1970 berthed at Simonstown Dockyard, South Africa

5 January 1971 sailed from Chatham Dockyard into the River Medway

February 1971 supported the Royal Yacht BRITANNIA in the Pacific

23 February 1971 visited Pitcairn Island during the visit of the Duke of Edinburgh to the island

August 1972 in Project Stornoway – the RAF Station fuelling tanks there required 1,500 tons of Avtur in preparation for a major Nato Exercise. The ship anchored offshore and effected delivery of the fuel through a specially constructed 2½ mile long pipeline in a 22½ hour long operation

22 May 1973 deployed in support of RN units off Iceland during 2nd Cod War until 2 June 1973

19 July 1973 at Portland

26 September 1973 deployed in support of RN units off Iceland during 2nd Cod War until 1 October 1973

11 October 1973 deployed in support of RN units off Iceland during 2nd Cod War until 13 October 1973

24 October 1973 at Portsmouth

12 December 1973 visited Pitcairn Island, Pacific. Whilst escorting the Royal Yacht in the Pacific she suffered a major engine room fire and had to be towed to Tahiti by BRITANNIA to effect temporary repairs before returning home to the U.K.


Blue Rover under tow from Britannia

Under tow of the Royal Yacht Brittania


1 April 1974 at North Shields, River Tyne

April 1974 was re-engined with 2 x 16 cyl Pielstick 400 x 460mm diesel engines by Crossley Premier Engines Ltd., Manchester. 15360 bhp. Speed now 19½ knots

24 March 1975 at Portsmouth (see note 1)

11 May 1975 at Faslane (see note 1)

5 June 1975 at Portsmouth (see note 1)

25 April 1976 carried out abeam refuelling trials, which involved just the connection of hoses, with the British merchant tanker BRITISH ESK

13 May 1976 deployed in support of RN units off Iceland during 3rd Cod War until 1 June 1976

September 1977 lost her rudder off Bergen and was towed to Rosyth under the escort of HMS SALISBURY

23 August 1978 alongside at Portsmouth

26 August 1978 open to the public during Portsmouth Navy Days – 4,429 people came onboard

27 August 1978 open to the public during Portsmouth Navy Days – 7,529 people came onboard

28 August 1978 open to the public during Portsmouth Navy Days – 8,929 people came onboard

29 August 1978 sailed Portsmouth for Portland to be the Portland tanker – RASed with the Dutch warship HNLMS Friesland

30 August 1978 refuelled the Dutch warship HNLMS Zeeland the berthed alongside at Portland

4 September 1978 sailed Portland

6 September 1978 berthed alongside at Portland to load cargo

7 September 1978 at Portland the head cook signed off, his replacement refused to sign on and the 2nd cook took over but threatened to leave on arrival at Faslane

9 September 1978 berthed alongside at Faslane

10 September 1978 working with the American NR-1 atomic powered submarine in the Irish Sea

 NR-1 986

United States Navy Submarine NR-1


18 September 1978 headed for Holy Loch for submarine repairs

19 September 1978 anchored off Holy Loch

6 October 1978 during further work with the American NR-1 atomic powered submarine she broke down again – returned to Faslane

9 October 1978 alongside at Faslane

17 October 1978 refuelled at Loch Striven and then sailed

19 October 1978 RASed with HMS YARMOUTH

22 October 1978 on buoy at Faslane

24 October 1978 deck landing practice with a Sea King helicopter

25 October 1978 RASed with HMS AVENGER

26 October 1978 RASed with HMS’s NORFOLK and ESKIMO

1 November 1978 arrived at Faslane

3 November 1978 sailed Faslane

15 November 1978 at Faslane

20 November 1978 sailed Faslane to Loch Striven

21 November 1978 sailed Loch Striven to work with HMS/m COURAGEOUS

23 November 1978 RASed with HMS ABDIEL and worked with HMS/m COURAGEOUS

3 December 1978 arrived at Faslane

5 December 1978 sailed Faslane

6 December 1978 RASed with HMS FIFE

7 December 1978 RASed with HMS FIFE again

8 December 1978 berthed at Faslane

11 December 1978 sailed Faslane to work with HMS/m ONSLOUGHT

13 December 1978 anchored at Spithead

14 December 1978 berthed at Portsmouth

10 January 1979 sailed Portsmouth as tanker to the Royal Yacht in a Middle East deployment

14 January 1979 arrived at Gibraltar with HMY BRITANNIA and HMS ACTIVE

16 January 1979 sailed Gibraltar

18 January 1979 RASed with HMS ACTIVE

19 January 1979 RASed with HMY BRITANNIA and HMS ACTIVE

21 January 1979 RASed with HMY BRITANNIA and HMS ACTIVE

22 January 1979 anchored off Alexandria

24 January 1979 sailed Alexandria for Port Said

25 January 1979 arrived Port Said

26 January 1979 commenced transit of the Suez Canal at 0200hrs

27 January 1979 exit Suez Canal at about 0600. RASed with HMY BRITANNIA and HMS ACTIVE

30 January 1979 RASed with HMS ACTIVE

31 January 1979 followed HMS ACTIVE to Bandra Abbas, Iran to standby for evacuation of civilians

2 February 1979 RASed with HMS ACTIVE and RFA TARBATNESS

4 February 1979 arrived Khor al Qusvai for a banyan

6 February 1979 RASed with HMY BRITANNIA, HMS ACTIVE and USS’s Talbot and Blandy

7 February 1979 berthed alongside at Kuwait opposite HMY BRITANNIA

14 February 1979 sailed Kuwait

15 February 1979 arrived Sitra, Bahrain fuel jetty

16 February 1979 berthed alongside at Manama Bahrain

19 February 1979 sailed Bahrain

20 February 1979 RASed with HMY BRITANNIA and HMS ACTIVE

21 February 1979 arrived at Doha, Qatar

22 February 1979 sailed from Doha, Qatar

23 February 1979 arrived Dubai, UAE

27 February 1979 sailed Dubai, UAE and stopped at Khor al Qusvai Island for another banyan

28 February 1979 arrived at Muscat, Oman

3 March 1979 HRH the Prince Philip visited Blue Rover

4 March 1979 sailed Muscat, Oman RASed with HMY BRITANNIA and RFA TARBATNESS

13 March 1979 RASed with HMY BRITANNIA and HMS ACTIVE

14 March 1979 transit the Suez Canal northbound 

16 March 1979 RASed RFA Olna (3)

17 March 1979 RASed with HMY BRITANNIA

18 March 1979 arrive at Naples and anchored off

21 March 1979 RASed with HMY BRITANNIA. Flag Officer Royal Yacht visited BLUE ROVER for lunch

23 March 1979 berthed at Palma

26 March 1979 sailed from Palma

27 March 1979 passed Gibraltar

31 March 1979 entered Chatham Dockyard from the River Medway

23 April 1979 sailed from Chatham Dockyard ino the River Medway

8 July 1979 at Falmouth

11 June 1980 between Iskenderum, Turkey and Port Said engaged in pump over with RFA OLWEN (2)

24 July 1980 RASed with RFA RESOURCE (2)

18 September 1980 alongside at Sasebo together with RFA OLWEN (2) and HMS ALACRITY

November 1980 together with RFA BRAMBLELEAF (3) deployed on the Armilla Patrol supporting HMS’s  ANTRIM and NAIAD

24 May 1981 at Genoa, Italy

16 April 1982 sailed Portsmouth for service during Operation Corporate – the Falklands Conflict

26 April 1982 arrived Ascension Island and then sailed again that same day

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

4 May 1982 joined up with RFA’s TIDESPRING and APPLELEAF (3) escorted by the destroyer HMS ANTRIM and the frigate HMS PLYMOUTH

6 May 1982 detached from the Group with RFA APPLELEAF (3) and headed for South Georgia escorted by the frigate HMS PLYMOUTH

9 May 1982 arrived Cumberland Bay, South Georgia to act as Station Tanker there

28 May 1982 sustained slight damage while refuelling  the ferry NORLAND

29 May 1982 sailed South Georgia to rendezvous with the Task Group

31 May 1982 entered San Carlos Water

2 June 1982 sailed San Carlos Water.

4 June 1982 entered San Carlos Water

5 June 1982 was relieved at South Georgia by RFA PEARLEAF (2). At San Carlos Water RFA SIR GERAINT berthed alongside and refuelled – she received 405 tons of bunker fuel

6 June 1982 sailed San Carlos Water

7 June 1982 RASed with STUFT BP Tanker British Test receiving AVCAT in the TRALA (Tug, Repair and Logistics area)

10 June 1982 entered San Carlos water after replenishment from STUFT BP Tanker British Test

12 June 1982 sailed San Carlos Water

19 June 1982 in San Carlos Water RFA ENGADINE berthed alongside – 160 tons of bunkers supplied to her

28 June 1982 sailed Falkland Islands for home

17 July 1982 arrived back U.K. on completion of Operation Corporate duties

18 November 1983 in Operation Offcut – naval support to British troops in the multi-national force in  the Lebanon along with RFA’s GREY ROVER, BRAMBLELEAF (3) and later RELIANT (3)

21 April 1984 at Rosyth

19 June 1984 at Gosport Oil Fuel Jetty

17 August 1984 was presented with her Falkland Islands 1982 Battle Honour at Faslane by Mr A  Kemp DST(SF)

25 October 1984 at Gosport Oil Fuel Jetty

6 April 1985 at Plymouth

25 July 1985 at Plymouth

28 December 1985 at Port Stanley, Falkland Islands

25 March 1986 at Portland

27 October 1986 at Gibraltar

14 August 1987 at Port Stanley, Falkland Islands

29 August 1987 at Port Stanley, Falkland Islands

6 January 1988 at Port Stanley, Falkland Islands

18 March 1988 at Rosyth

22 May 1988 at Corpus Christie, Texas

6 October 1988 at Portsmouth

24 October 1988 at River Tyne

30 January 1989 at Portsmouth

5 May 1989 at Portland

6 July 1989 at Portland

12 December 1989 at East Cove, Falkland Islands

5 August 1990 at Glasgow

9 January 1991 Captain Pat Thompson RFA appointed as Commanding Officer


1a Pat Thomson

Captain Pat Thompson RFA

14 January 1991 at Middlesborough

8 March 1991 at Middlesborough

29 March 1991 at Invergordon

9 February 1993 arrived Devonport to commence destore for disposal

22 February 1993 sailed Devonport

23 February 1993 arrived Portsmouth for final destore then disposal

March 1993 was purchased by the Portuguese Navy for £5.5m

31 March 1993 officially handed over to the Portuguese Navy at Portsmouth and was renamed NRP BERRIO (A 5210)




6 April 1993 sailed Portsmouth for Falmouth for a brief refit before re-entering service with her  new owners

1995 took part in Operation “Sharp-Guard” in the Adriatic Sea

1998 took part in Operation Crocodile (Operação Crocodilo) as part of the Portuguese naval task force that rescued foreign nationals caught in the civil conflicts in Guinea Bissau

1 July 2004 anchored in Plymouth Sound

8 July 2004 anchored in Plymouth Sound

4 April 2005 took part in Exercise ‘Nifa 2005’ with units of the Spanish. French and Portugal Navies in the North Atlantic

25 September 2006 RASed with HMCS IROQUOIS

2007 at Ponta Delgada, Azores islands, Portugal

31 August 2008 alongside at the Alfeite Naval Base, Lisbon

9 July 2009 berthed at Rota, Spain

3 February 2012 alongside at the Alfeite Naval Base, Lisbon

8 March 2012 involved in Naval Exercises off Lisbon RASing with NRP BARTOLOMEU DIAS and NRP VASCO DA GAMA


Berrio 1 Blue Rover

9 March 2012 berthed at Lisbon

15 May 2012 alongside at the Alfeite Naval Base, Lisbon

2012 took part in Operation Manatee ready to evacuate Guinea-Bissau nationals and friendly countries

16 July 2013 at Setubal, Portugal

6 April 2014 at Cova da Piedade, Portugal

6 May 2014 sailed from Lisbon

12 September 2014 alongside at the Alfeite Naval Base, Lisbon

3 October 2014 sailed from Lisbon

25 March 2015 in the North Atlantic passing USS Farragut (DDG99)

10 June 2016 arrived at Cova da Piedade

22 June 2016 sailed Cova da Piedade arriving at Lisbon later the same day

10 January 2017 berthed at Lisbon

26 July 2017 sailed Cova da Piedade returning there later the next day

27 July 2017 arrived at Lisbon

2 August 2017 at anchor at Lisbon

19 October 2018 sailed Cova da Piedade, Portugal

4 December 2018 sailed Cova de Piedade, Portugal

7 December 2018 arrived at Cova de Piedade, Portugal

1 August 2019 sailed from Rota, Spain

3 August 2019 arrived at Cova de Piedade, Portugal






1. Locations kindly provided by T Perrier RFA (retired) from his Discharge Book 

2. NRP = Navio de Republica Portuguese = Portuguese Republic Ship