RFA Sir Tristram (L3505)

RFA Sir Tristram (L3505) is a Landing Ship Logistics of the Round Table class. She was launched in 1966, and accepted into British Army service in 1967. As with others of her class, she was transferred to the Royal Fleet Auxiliary in 1970, and was manned by British Officers and Hong Kong Chinese sailors.[1] The ship saw service in the Falklands War of 1982, and was badly damaged at Fitzroy on 8 June.

Sir Tristram being carried home by the heavy lift ship MV Dan Lifter in 1983
United Kingdom
Name: RFA Sir Tristram
Namesake: Tristan
Builder: Hawthorn Leslie
Laid down: February 1966
Launched: 12 December 1966
Commissioned: 14 September 1967
Decommissioned: 16 December 2005
Identification: IMO number: 6704373
Status: Training ship
General characteristics
Class and type: Round Table class landing ship logistics
Displacement: 6,407 t (6,306 long tons)
Length: 135.8 m (445 ft 6 in)
Beam: 17.1 m (56 ft 1 in)
Draught: 3.9 m (12 ft 10 in)
  • 2 × 10-cylinder four-stroke turbo-charged Mirrlees National ALSSDM10 diesel engines
  • 400 hp (300 kW) Bow thruster
Speed: 16 knots (18 mph; 30 km/h)
Complement: 51
Aircraft carried: One spot for Westland Sea King or Westland Lynx aft, one spot for CH-47 Chinook, Sea King or Lynx on main vehicle deck

Early service

In January 1972 RFA Sir Tristram was part of an Anti-invasion task force for British Honduras, together with Sir Bedivere and Sir Geraint. In 1977 RFA Sir Tristram was used as a guest ship for the Queens Silver Jubilee Fleet Review at Spithead in the Solent.[2]

Falklands War

In April 1982 RFA Sir Tristram was diverted from Belize to the Falkland Islands to take part in Operation Corporate, the British effort to retake the Falkland Islands.

On 8 June, while transporting men and equipment to Fitzroy Cove alongside the Sir Galahad, Sir Tristram was attacked by A-4 Skyhawks from Argentine Air Force's V Brigada Aérea (FAA), each loaded with three 500 lb Mark 82 bomb.[3] At approximately 14:00 local time the decks were strafed and two crew were killed. A 500 lb bomb penetrated the deck, but failed to explode immediately, allowing the remaining crew to be evacuated. Following the later explosion, Sir Tristram was abandoned. Immediately following the end of the conflict, Sir Tristram was towed to Port Stanley, where she was used as an accommodation ship.[4][5] Sir Tristram then returned to the United Kingdom in 1983 on a heavy lift ship and was extensively rebuilt.[4]


Following the rebuild, Sir Tristram re-entered active service in 1985, and saw service in the Gulf War, and the Balkan conflicts of the 1990s. The ship supported relief operations for Hurricane Mitch off Central America. In 2000 the ship was deployed to Sierra Leone in support of British operations there, followed by a cruise to the Baltic Sea in support of MCMVs. Early 2001 saw Sir Tristram return to Sierra Leone to take over from Sir Percivale as the ship supporting British forces ashore there. In 2003 the ship was deployed as part of the largest British fleet for 20 years in support of the invasion of Iraq.

The ship was decommissioned on 17 December 2005 but continues to be used for training purposes by the Special Boat Service and other elements of UK Special Forces Group. She is now based at Portland Harbour.[6]


  1. Puddefoot, Geoff (2010). Ready For Anything: The Royal Fleet Auxiliary 1905-1950 pp. 69-70. Seaforth Publishing. ISBN 978-1-848-32074-1.
  2. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 7 October 2011. Retrieved 27 September 2011.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) RFA Sir Tristram at Royal Fleet Auxiliary Site
  3. Moro, Rubén Oscar (1985). La guerra inaudita: historia del conflicto del Atlántico Sur. Pleamar, p. 462. ISBN 9505830432. (in Spanish)
  4. http://www.historicalrfa.org/rfa-sir-tristram-ships-details
  5. Bijl, Nicholas Van der; Aldea, David (29 April 2019). "5th Infantry Brigade in the Falklands 1982". Leo Cooper. Retrieved 29 April 2019 via Google Books.
  6. "Ex RFA Sir Tristram". A&P Group. Archived from the original on 5 October 2011. Retrieved 12 August 2011. In 2006 it was decided to regenerate the ex LSL Sir Tristram for a new role as a special forces training platform to replace the aged Rame Head and relocate the facility from Portsmouth Harbour to Portland in Dorset under a project name of Project Newman.
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