The Adventures of a Conway Lad on RFA Sir Bedivere 1976


Pennant No. L 3004                      International Callsign GSRE             Registered LONDON


Previous Name N/A                                                                         Lloyds Identity No. 6617154


Builder Hawthorn Leslie (Shipbuilders) Ltd, Hebburn on Tyne.


Launched 20th July 1966.                                                                     Completed 18th May 1967.


Displacement (Light-ship) 3,270 tons.                         (Loaded) 5,713 tons.


Measurement Tonnage N.R.T. 2,179                     G.R.T. 4,473                 DWT 2,443


Dimensions Length O.A. 413 ft.                     Beam 59 ft.                 Draft 13 ft aft.


Main Machinery 2 x Mirrilees National Ltd 10 cylinder marine diesels.    2 shafts.      Bow thruster.

Speed 17 knots.


Ships Badge Granted in 1971.  Sir Bedivere was the knight who flung the sword ‘Excaliber’ into the lake at the behest of King Arthur, following the King’s mortal wounds at the Battle of Camlann.  The badge depicts an arm with the sword, rising from the lake.


Remarks “SIR BEDIVERE” is a Landing Ship Logistic (LSL).  She was a sister-ship and had the same details as the “SIR TRISTRAM”.


As with the others of her class, she was able to carry two ‘Mexiflote’ pontoons, one on each side.  They weighed 39 tons each and were made up of nine sections, having an overall size of 60 ft x 24 ft x 4 ft. Their loaded draft was about 2ft.


During the Falklands Conflict of 1982, “SIR BEDIVERE” was hit by bombs from Argentinean aircraft, which fortunately failed to explode.


In July 1994, she was taken in hand by Babcock’s Shipyard at Rosyth, (the old Navy dockyard), for major re-constructional work, intended to extend the life of the vessel by another 15 years.  This work included lengthening the ship by 12 metres, complete re-engining and major alterations to the accommodation and flight deck areas.  Many problems were encountered during this modification, involving massive extra costs.  By January 1998 the ship was still in shipyard hands, although the work is expected to be completed in the near future.



26th January to 21st February 1976

Hong Kong Chinese Crew

1st Officer


I joined this vessel, another Landing Ship Logistic, when she docked at Marchwood Military Port.  Once again I was the 4-8 watchkeeping navigator, with some interesting destinations to come.  We sailed around to Plymouth where we embarked a full load of Royal Marines and their equipment for winter exercises in Norway.  Their specialised snow and ice warfare gear included ‘snowcats’, which were articulated troop carriers with rubber tracked wheels, ‘bobcats’, which were like scooters with skis, as well as the usual vehicles such as Landrovers, 4 tonne lorries, 150mm artillery pieces and various trailers.  All this equipment was painted white and wheels were fitted with studded tyres for grip in icy conditions.


For working in cold Norwegian conditions we were supplied with extra warm winter clothing.  The voyages to various destinations in Norway took us firstly to Koppervik, a port in the south west of the country, off which we embarked the Norwegian coastal pilot.  He then guided us through the inner coastal leads, which gave shelter from the North Atlantic swell and sometimes stormy weather.  He also guided us up the twisting fjords to destinations such as Andalsnes, Ulvik and Ardal, which were many miles from the open sea.


‘Beautiful’ is the only word I can use to describe the scenery as we passed through this magnificent countryside.  All around were sheer snow-covered mountains, dotted with tiny and remote villages clinging to the rocky edges of the fjord.  Occasionally we passed frozen blue waterfalls, decorated with long icicles and waiting for the summer sun to bring them back to life.  At night the little churches were beautifully floodlit, in a country where hydro-electric power provided a cheap source of energy.  Our destinations varied from proper quays in the larger towns, to ramshackle timber pile jetties in some of the more remote villages.  There was usually plenty of deep water for us to get close to the shore to discharge all our passengers, vehicles and associated cargo.


The passages to and from Norway across the North Sea were sometimes quite rough in these winter days.  The LSL’s were shallow drafted, flat-bottomed scows, which could roll quite happily on damp grass!  This often meant that our passengers didn’t feel like eating a great deal at meal times.  As our Purser received a feeding allowance for each man carried, it meant that he could often save quite a bit of the allowance if the weather was rough.  The ship’s officers and crew later fed like kings on the unused allowance that had been saved.


After a rather brief appointment I paid off again whilst the ship was back in Marchwood.