RFA Reliant (A131)

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RFA EnsignUnited Kingdom
Name: RFA Reliant
Builder: Gdańsk Shipyard
Launched: 6 July 1976
Completed: 20 January 1977 as Astronomer
Commissioned: 16 November 1983 as RFA Reliant
Decommissioned: 25 July 1986
  • Admiralty Island
  • April 1989 as Wealthy River
Struck: 1986
Identification:IMO number7383889
Fate: Sold back into merchant service on 27 October 1986
Status: Arrived at Alang for demolition on 9 July 1998
General characteristics
Displacement: 28,156 GT
Length: 204.22 m (670.0 ft)
Beam: 30.99 m (101.7 ft)
Draught: 10.021 m (32.88 ft)
Propulsion: 2 x 10 cyl Sulzer diesel, 29,000 bhp. One shaft
Speed: 21 knots (52 km/h)
  • 61 RFA
  • 150 RN
Armament: 4 x 20 mm guns
Aircraft carried: Up to five Westland Sea King

RFA Reliant (A131) was a helicopter support ship of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary.[1][2][3] She was built in 1977 in Poland, at the Gdańsk Shipyard, as a conventional container ship with roll-on/roll-off capability for loading vehicles and containers for the Harrison Line.[4] She was named Astronomer. She was taken up from the trade in 1982 for service in the Falklands War as an aircraft transport, being fitted with a temporary mid-ships flight deck and hangar forward to carry 13 helicopters.[5]

At the end of 1982 she was chartered by the UK MoD and a more substantial conversion was undertaken, and was fitted with the Arapaho containerized aircraft handling system, a hangar and a flight deck and she was commissioned into the RFA Fleet as RFA Reliant. Her first operational sortie was to the coast of Lebanon in support of the Multinational Force in Lebanon and the British Army units based in Beirut, eventually evacuating the same in February 1984. Upon returning to UK she proceeded to the Falklands for what was expected to be an extended deployment. However, it did not last long as the Arapaho system proved to be unsatisfactory for handling aircraft. She was decommissioned in 1986 and sold back into conventional merchant service.[4]


  1. ^ Marriott,Leo, 'Royal Navy Aircraft Carriers 1945-1990', pages 115-117, ISBN 0-7110-1561-9, Published by Ian Allan Ltd (Surrey, UK), 1985
  2. ^ Adams,T.A., Smith,J.R., 'The Royal Fleet Auxiliary - A Century of Service', page 139, ISBN 1-86176-259-3, Jointly Published by Chatham Publishing (London, UK) & Stackpole Books (PA, USA) in association with the RFA Association, 2005
  3. ^ James,Tony, 'The Royal Fleet Auxiliary 1905-85', page 128, ISBN 0-907771-21-1, Published by Maritime Books (Cornwall, UK), 1985
  4. ^ a b "The Atlantic Conveyor #Falklands 30". Think Defence. Retrieved 14 November 2017.
  5. ^ Puddefoot, Geoff (2010). Fourth Force, The Untold Story of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary Since 1945. Seafprth Publishing. p. 203. ISBN 9781848320468.