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Author Topic: RFA Bayleaf  (Read 2337 times)

DickyD

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RFA Bayleaf
« on: March 23, 2011, 04:20:33 pm »

The Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship Bayleaf sails into Portland Port for the last time today (Wednesday).

The tanker is going out of service on Saturday as part of Ministry of Defence cuts.

Her final spell in the Gulf proved to be a relatively short one Ė under two years.

Operating out of Bahrain and Dubai, she was on 60 minutesí notice to provide fuel for Allied/Coalition warships in the Gulf or Indian Ocean by day or night.

She joined the RFA family in 1982 and was used in the South Atlantic to support the liberation of the Falklands.

Since that inaugural mission, the tanker has sailed 1.4 million miles - thatís the equivalent of 47 times around the earth.

The ship enters Portland today before making her final voyage under the Blue Ensign on Saturday when she sails to Devonport.

The RFA standard will be hauled down for the last time on April 20 when there will be a ceremony to commemorate all she and her crew have achieved since 1982.

Bayleafís passing leaves a solitary Leaf-class tanker in service with the RFA, Orangeleaf.
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Liverbudgie

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Re: RFA Bayleaf
« Reply #1 on: March 23, 2011, 05:11:26 pm »


Considering that these ships are over thirty years old now, pushing thirty five if memory serves, they have an excellent service record over the years and represent good value. They have been running on extended service for some time now as well because they are of a single hull construction (resulting in them having to carry water in their outboard tanks and their fuel cargo in the centre tanks) and would have had to have been withdrawn by 2016 in any case. (This also applies to the Rover's and Fort Victoria as well). Compared to the Wave class their accommodation, bridge etc is very cramped and difficult to work in. Her last refit, a little over two years ago, cost £20m and she was due another one if she was to remain in service which could not be justified in my view; this is bad news for Cammell Lairds, (the present company) of course as this is were it would have been undertaken.

So, another Cammel Lairds designed and but ship reaches their career after serving the needs of the country well.

The real tragedy is course that no replacements have been ordered or are likely to be soon, as far as I can see. Those responsible for this state of affairs should hang their heads in shame; if they really want to put the World to rights have them remove their collective heads from their botties and give our forces the tools to do the job.
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Bryan Young

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Re: RFA Bayleaf
« Reply #2 on: March 23, 2011, 07:35:24 pm »

Bayleaf......then as now, really. When we trundled down into the South Atlantic in 1982 we were very short of "secondary" or "top-up" tankers. If memory serves, we only had little "Pearleaf" and "Plumleaf" to do the pumpovers to the Fleet Oilers. We had 5 "front Line" tankers (with enhanced capabilities), the 3 "O" class and 2 "Tides" (one of which was en-route to new Chilean buyers).
All 5 were capable of operating and maintainig both Sea Kings and Wessex aircraft.
We, at the time, didn't really have the back-up Fleet Train necessary to keep the Front Line ships topped up. It would have been impossible to detach (say) any of the main tankers to another port to re-load because of their aviation commitments. So the STUFTS came in. At least one of them did a shuttle service back and forth to South Africa and did "pumpovers" (not RAS(L)s) to the main RFAs. But more was needed. Two of the tankers taken up from Trade were deemed to be acceptable to the MoD for incorporation into the RFA fleet. These became the "new Leafs". "Orangeleaf", much larger, came later.
The 2 new ships had been basically laid up since their launching during the mid 1970s as no-one wanted to buy them. This was the time when "Hudsons" and other companies associated with Burma Oil, Skytrain and others went to the wall. So there they sat. For years. When the Mod decided to keep them a huge extension to the accommodation block was added to house the additional (mainly communications staff).

These shps are closer to 40 years old than 30 and have really done an outstanding bit of work. But what wil replace them?
We are now involved with ships being deployed into the Med.where Naval Forces do need support. What have we got left? "Fort George" has been withdrawn from service so that leaves only Fort Victoria. And RFA "Argus"needs fuellig as well.BY.
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Liverbudgie

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Re: RFA Bayleaf
« Reply #3 on: March 23, 2011, 08:30:44 pm »

Bryan,
There were four ships of this class built all for Hudsonís. They were, as you say, all laid up on completion, two in Liverpool and two on the West Float, Birkenhead. Apparently, Cammell Lairds expected to build over a hundred of them, I have heard 140, but it all fell through.

After the Falklands all four were purchased by the MOD, and renamed RFA Appleleaf, Brambelleaf, Bayleaf and Orangleaf, ex Balder London. The Apple was leased to the RAN and decommissioned in 2006 and is now and oil storage vessel in the Gulf. The Bramble was scrapped last year and the Bay will no doubt be the next. The Orange does have a larger GRT than the others but, all have the same dimensions.
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sailorboy61

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Re: RFA Bayleaf
« Reply #4 on: March 24, 2011, 08:54:17 am »

One lesson that should and of course won't be learnt from these ships is that you don't have to pay a whole possee of MoD naval architects to come up with a design that that doesn't work and costs many many millions to build (Fort George/Victoria) when you can actually pick up 'cheap' commercially available hulls and for substantially less money put them into the service they are required for. OK, so the add on accommodation on the Leafs was less than perfect... (having lived in some myself!), however that can probably be put down to the afore mentioned NAs designing the add on(?).
The next one to go when the MoD finally wake up will be the Gold Rover, but obviously not until she has been in drydock for two years and used the whole repair budget for the next ten years! Oh well, the upside is its keeping our locals busy!
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snowwolflair

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Re: RFA Bayleaf
« Reply #5 on: March 24, 2011, 09:43:46 am »

Gold will replace Black Rover in the South Atlantic.  I was told recently that if Black Rover entered the channel she would be immediately condemned!  So Black will go next.
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Bryan Young

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Re: RFA Bayleaf
« Reply #6 on: March 24, 2011, 03:54:03 pm »

The term "Leaf" class has always (as far as I know) been given to tankers whose primary role was freighting POLs from one place to another. The Gulf to Singapore and so on. The secondary purpose (in more recent years) has been to "top-up" the Front Line RFAs...hence the RAS rigs. Just another vital link in the supply chain. Naturally, the "Leafs" can also carry out more normal RAS(L) operations, and frequently do. But not on a fulltime 24 hour basis. The manning level being a major factor here.
     To compare these ships on whatever level to a front-line RFA is nonsense. Everything about the Leafs (apart from a limited RAS capability) is pure commercial. For a start they are much slower than (say) a "Fort". How many commercial tankers do you know that can keep up 20+ knots day in day out? None. The Leafs also invariably also have only 2 rigs. OK, so do the Rovers, but originally they were never intended for world wide heavy operations. The fact that they do is more a credit to the crews than the design of the ship. Buying an off the peg commercial hull and trying to bring it up to Naval requirements has been proved (HMS "Ocean") to be a bit of a non-starter.
      A purpose built RFA is in most respects a different form of warship. Dedicated aviation facilities for a start. The capability to operate in a real war zone (and don't quote the Leafs operating in the Gulf....a totally different scenario).
      If (and I repeat "if") the front line RFAs were manned by RN personnel the manning levels would increase dramatically, but more pertinently losing civilian status would severely hamper access to many ports. BY.


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