RFA Grey Rover



Reproduced with permission of the MOD


RFA Grey Rover
RFA Grey Rover while visiting Qingdao, Shangdong Province,
People’s Republic of China in 2004

Previous name:
Subsequent name:

Official Number:                     338950

Class:                                     ROVER CLASS Small Fleet Tanker

Pennant No:                           A269

Laid down:                              28 February 1968
Builder:                                   Swan Hunter, Hebburn on Tyne
Launched:                              17 April 1969

Into Service:                           10 April 1970

Out of service:                        15 March 2006

Fate:                                        Arrived at ship breakers at Liverpool 18 October 2009


Items of historic interest involving this ship: –


Background Data:   In 1967, tenders were invited for what eventually turned out to be five 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


17 April 1969 launched by Swan Hunter Shipbuilders Ltd., Hebburn as Yard Nr: 7 named  GREY ROVER. The Lady Sponsor was Lady Parker ,the wife of Vice Admiral Sir John Parker KBE,CB,DSC who was Flag Officer Medway

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

10 April 1970 completed and accepted three months later than the original planned date

September 1970 took over from RFA BLACK RANGER as the FOST tanker at Portland

29 December 1970 entered Chatham Dockyard from the Medway River

11 January 1971 sailed from Chatham Dockyard into the Medway River

July 1972 anchored in Hollesley Bay near Orfordness in support of the Army’s Operation  Polex 72 – the pumping of 2000 tons of jet fuel, ferried in dracones towed by workboats to a nearby off-shore pumping station, through a specially constructed 12  mile pipeline to USAF Bases at Bentwaters and Woodbridge

17 July, 1973 at Campletown

28 July 1973 was struck below the waterline by the Canadian submarine HMCS Okanagan – images of the result of this collision can be found HERE

August 1973 dry docked at Govan, Glasgow

20 August 1973 entered Chatham Dockyard from the River Medway

3 September 1973 sailed from Chatham Dockyard into the River Medway

15 October 1973 deployed in support of RN units off Iceland during 2nd Cod War until 18 October 1973

26 October 1973 at Invergordon

28 October 1973 deployed in support of RN units off Iceland during 2nd Cod War until 31 October 1973

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

19 November 1973 at Faslane

17 January 1974 at Faslane

12 March 1974 at Faslane

April 1974 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

23 April 1974 at Faslane

13 July 1974 at Faslane

18 July 1974 at Faslane

8 January 1975 at Faslane

2 April 1975 at the River Clyde

14 January 1976 sailed from Chatham Dockyard into the River Medway

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



British merchant tanker BRITISH TAMAR


17 June 1976 to 22 June 1976 along with RFA STROMNESS and the frigates HMS EXMOUTH and HMS MERMAID she stood by off the Lebanon to evacuate British nationals

23 April 1977 with HM Royal Yacht BRITANNIA moored in Grand Harbour, Malta

June 1977 Captain Roy B Mathews RFA in command

17 June 1977 at Wallsend on Tyne

5 September 1977 along with RFA’s REGENT, TARBATNESS and TIDEPOOL sailed Portsmouth as part of Task group 317.6 led by the helicopter cruiser HMS TIGER

3 June 1978 berthed at Portland

22 September 1978 berthed on the River Tyne

14 October 1978 at Portsmouth

7 December 1978 to 9 December 1978 whilst part of Task Group 332.1 on passage from Karachi to the Seychelles was ordered to loiter off Iran owing to civilian unrest and the possible evacuation of  British nationals which resulted in the overthrow of the Shah

7 February 1979 at Portsmouth

1 December 1979 at Gibraltar

7 January 1980 at Chatham Dockyard

17 January 1980 due to the Iranian Crisis was part of the RN Task Force which was despatched to the   Mediterranean to co-operate with the USN along with RFA FORT GRANGE

25 May 1980 at Chatham Dockyard

14 July 1980 at Chatham Dockyard

29 July 1980 at Faslane

11 September 1980 Captain Shane Redmond RFA appointed as Master



Captain Shane Redmond RFA


23 June 1981 off Portland Bill the ashes of the late 2nd Officer Roger B Thomas RFA, who died on 10 June 1981,  were scattered in the presence of his parents and several RFA Officers

December 1981 Captain Ollie G Lynch RFA in command

18 December 1981 at Portsmouth

7 April 1982 was established as the resident work-up tanker in the Portland Area

April to June 1982 during Operation Corporate – the Falklands Conflict – she was the only operational RFA tanker which remained on the Home Coast. She carried out RAS trials with STUFT ships en route to the Falkland Islands in the SW Approaches to the English Channel whilst herself based at Portland. The smallest vessel worked with was the trawler FARNELLA and the largest was the liner QUEEN ELIZABETH 2

25 April 1982 off Plymouth undertook a trial RAS with Stuft ship mv Atlantic Conveyor before the ships departure to the Falklands War

May 1982 undertook a trial RAS with the RMS QE2 prior to the troop ships departure to the Falklands War



19 May 1982 off Plymouth RASed with the STUFT Sealink Ferry St Edmuund

24 June 1982 at Portsmouth

21 December 1982 at Portsmouth

10 August 1983 to 16 August 1983 was diverted from Armilla Patrol duties in the Gulf, along with the frigates HMS ANDROMEDA and HMNZS WAIKATO to the vicinity of the Chagos Archipelago in the Indian Ocean owing to illegal incursions in the area

December 1983 ordered to Cyprus along with the frigates HMS ACHILLES and HMS ANDROMEDA to support Operation Offcut – naval support to British troops in the multi-national force in the Lebanon, along with RFA’s BLUE ROVER,  BRAMBLELEAF (3) and later RELIANT(3)

8 December 1983 released from Operation Offcut and returned to the U.K.

6 January 1984 berthed on Gosport Oil Fuel Jetty

9 April 1984 at Faslane

11 June 1984 at Portsmouth

2 August 1984 berthed at Rosyth when a ‘bomb threat’ was received by the Master and by the Chief Engineer Officer. Later Steward George Selby from the ship appeared before Dunfermaline Sheriff Court and admitted making the hoax call. He was find £500.00



Article from the Daily Telegraph of 3 August 1984


25 September 1984 a team from the ship fought a fire on motor yacht YANKEE CLIPPER in Freeport in the Bahamas

4 December 1984 at Portsmouth

13 December 1984 berthed on the River Tyne

26 July 1985 at Plymouth

1 August 1985 at Plymouth

24 January 1986 at Portsmouth

3 February 1986 at Plymouth

March 1986 RASed with HNMS Isaac Sweers off the Hebrides

HNMS Isaac Sweers

HNMS Isaac Sweers
© George Mortimer – RFAHS member


6 June 1986 at Portsmouth

17 April 1987 at Portland

10 June 1987 at Rosyth

31 July 1987 at Gosport Oilfuel Jetty, Portsmouth Harbour

31 December 1987 at Tampa, Florida

6 January 1989 at the Falkland Islands

30 April 1900 at Plymouth

4 June 1990 at Plymouth

21 September 1990 at Plymouth

2 December 1990 berthed at East Cove Military Port, East Falkland

11 October 1993 at Teesport

27 January 1994 berthed at Cape Town, South Africa in company with HMS NORFOLK for a five day visit. Both ships were open to the public and 53,000 visitors came onboard both ships

Grey Rover at Cape Town

Grey Rover and Norfolk open to the public

19 March 1994 berthed at the East Cove Military Port, East Falkland

April 1994 whilst on patrol off South Georgia she rescued the single-handed yachtswoman Anne Lise Guy and her boat WILDFLOWER

14 April 1994 the Times newspaper reported –


14 4 94 Times Grey Rover


4 May 1994 at the Falkland Islands

10 May 1994 humanitarian aid – assisted 28 surviving crew of the Chilean vessel FIRO SURE V after a severe fire had killed two and injured many others and escorted the vessel back to Grytviken

4 July 1994 berthed at the East Cove Military Port, East Falkland

15 July 1994 berthed at the Falkland Islands

24 January 1995 at Port Stanley, Falkland Islands

29 May 1995 at Port Stanley, Falkland Islands

7 January 1998 off the Falkland Islands

8 June 1998 at Plymouth

15 June 1998 to 27 November 1998 in refit

28 March 1999 Captain (E) Edward M Quigley RFA appointed as Chief Engineer Officer

22 December 1999 at Cape Town, South Africa


 Grey Rover cape Town

RFA Grey Rover at Cape Town on 5 January 2000 
kindly donated by Robert Pabst

17 February 2000 at Tenerife Captain (X) Trevor J Iles RFA appointed in command


Capt Trevor Iles

Captain (X) Trevor J Iles RFA

27 July 2000 at Falkland Islands

14 December 2000 at East Cove Military Port, Falkland Islands and Captain Trevor J Iles RFA appointed in command

18 June 2001 to 20 August 2001 routine docking at Wallsend

20 August 2001 Captain (X) Paul Whyte RFA appointed as Commanding Officer


Captain Paul Whyte on Argus in Faluth

Captain (X) Paul Whyte RFA


1 November 2001 berthed at Devonport

7 December 2001 Sea King HC4 helicopter no: ZD476 – main blade strike when fast roping to bridge wing of ship, made an emergency landing on Dorset beach

21 February 2002 berthed at East Cove, Falkland Islands

20 March 2002 to 25 March 2002 berthed at Las Palmas

12 April 2002 berthed at Lagos, Nigeria

19 July 2002 berthed at East Cove, Falkland Islands, Captain (X) Paul Whyte RFA appointed as Commanding Officer

2 January 2003 berthed at East Cove, Falkland Islands

13 January 2003 anchored off Tristan da Cunha

30 January 2003 to 20 April 2003 was retasked from the South Atlantic for Operation Telic – the 2nd Gulf War – along with 13 other RFA‘s

13 February 2003 berthed at Dubai. Captain Anthony McNally RFA appointed as Commanding Officer until 1 August 2003

26 April 2003 berthed at Port Klang

29 May to 3 June 2003 visited ports in South Korea with HMS LIVERPOOL

5 June 2003 berthed at Tokyo

1 July 2003 berthed at Yokyo with HMS’s LIVERPOOL and MARLBOROUGH

7 July 2003 berthed at Port Blair with HMS LIVERPOOL

8 August 2003 returned to Plymouth on completion of Operation Telic duties

30 November 2003 Captain Anthony McNally RFA appointed as Commanding Officer until 7 June 2004

25 March 2004 berthed at Gibraltar from Southampton

2004 conducted the first RAS with a unit of the Singapore Navy.

18 June 2004 with HMS EXETER visited Qingdao, Shangdong Province, People’s Republic of China and the North Sea Fleet of the Peoples Liberation Army Navy

2 July 2004 engaged in tri-nations naval exercise together with HMS EXETER, USS Cowpens (CG63), USS Harpers Ferry (LSD49) and two Russian vessels off the coast of Vladivostok, Russia

July 2004 berthed at the United States Naval Facility, Yokosuka for a self maintenance period.

23 September 2004 berthed at Goa, India

13 November 2004 at Gibraltar

4 January 2005 Captain Anthony McNally RFA appointed as Commanding Officer until 1 July 2005

17 March 2005 at the Falkland Islands

1 July 2005 Captain Shaun Jones RFA appointed as Commanding Officer


Shaun Jones

Captain Shaun Jones RFA


July 2005 at Port Stanley, Falkland Islands

August 2005 berthed alongside at Montevideo

October 2005 at South Georgia

18 November 2005 Captain Anthony Macnally RFA appointed as Commanding Officer

8 December 2005 sailed Port Stanley, Falklands Islands for Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for Christmas and New Years Holidays

2 February 2006 whilst supporting the destroyer HMS SOUTHAMPTON was involved in a major £350 million drugs bust in the SW Caribbean which involved the merchant ship RAMPAGE,from which 3.5t of cocaine was seized

15 March 2006 arrived Portsmouth for the last time after destoring in Scotland and was decommissioned

20 February 2008 the ships bell was sold at Bonhams, London for £480 including premium

May 2009 at Portsmouth Harbour


Grey Rovers bell

14 October 2009 left Portsmouth under tow of the tug Braveheart to the breakers yard.

18 October 2009 arrived at Canada Graving Dock, Liverpool Bay for demolition by Leavesley International