Once a ship had been built and launched she then had to be out-fitted, and then complete sea trials
before being handed over to her new owners, in the case of a ship for the Royal Navy this meant she also had to be commissioned as fit for purpose, once commissioned she was then considered ready for action and would take her place in the fleet.
The Helicopter support/training ship RFA ENGADINE (K 08) was the largest ship built at the Leith Shipyards of Henry Robb Ltd. She was the second Royal Navy ship to carry the name.
She was ordered by the Admiralty (MoD) in August 1964 at a time which was something of a boom for the shipyard; along with the large order for merchant ships from Ellerman Lines it was a good time to be a shipbuilder in Leith, with full employment and a large order book.
She was the first purpose built Helicopter training ship in the Royal Navy, and was built to Merchant ship specifications and manned by RFA and Royal Navy personnel; she had a high standard of accommodation and also the only ship at the time in the Royal Fleet Auxuilary to be fitted with stabilizers designed by the Edinburgh firm of Brown Brothers Ltd.
Such was the work load at the yard that some of her build in modular form was sub contracted out to a shipyard across the other side of the River Forth, it was to Burtisland Shipyards on the Fife side, that some of the modules were built, nothing new here as Henry Robb shipyards had helped to pioneer the self same thing during World War II to build and launch many of the ships that were launched during wartime.
Indeed today's two huge aircraft carriers being assembled at Rosyth on the River Forth are being built the self same way through a collaboration of the small amount of shipyards that are left in the U.K.
After fitting out in the basin at Leith she was towed down the river under the Forth Railway Bridge to the then Royal Dockyard at Rosyth to be fitted with her secret stuff (Electronics etc) See photographs below of her short journey across the Forth.
After commission she was attached to the Western Fleet and based at Portland.
With the increasing use of helicopters from destroyers and frigates, there was a requirement to train pilots to operate in deep water, away from coastal stations. RFA ENGADINE was Britain's first purpose built aviation support ship and fulfilled this role.
Although operated by the Royal Fleet Auxiliary The ship was however to be jointly manned by RN
and RFA personnel - an idea that was by no means popular at first. She would
train more than 100 at a time and had a small permanent RN compliment to
augment the RFA personnel.
In addition to four Wessex helicopters, Engadine could carry either two Wasp or two Sea Kings. She was also capable of operating small, pilotless target aircraft (Drones). These were housed in a small hanger above her main helicopter hanger.
The photograph above shows RFA ENGADINE underway and is re-produced here by permission of Donald
(Photo credit is unknown)
RFA ENGADINE was based at Portland for her entire career. In 1976 she was deployed off Lebanon should she be required to evacuate British Nationals.
At the Silver Jubilee Fleet Review RFA ENGADINE carried members of the press and followed behind the Royal Yacht Britannia.
During the Falklands War she served as a helicopter repair ship under the Command of Captain D.F Freeman. Where she became another of the Leith Built Ships to serve in the conflict with Argentina over the possession of the Falkland Islands, ENGADINE spent the entire time in San Carlos Water or "bomb alley" as the men who were there called it due to the heavy risk from attacks by the Argentine Air force, her role became even more important with the sinking of the container ship Atlantic Conveyor carrying a cargo of helicopters and spare parts amongst other war cargo for use in the Falklands.
1982. RFA Engadine at anchor in San Carlos Water with two Sea King ranged. Taken from RFA Fort Grange. Rumour had it at the time that she had slipped away from home waters and no one knew where she was until she appeared down South. It was a lovely story. (Photo was taken by Mike Day and re-produced here with permission)
By the mid-1980s, RFA ENGADINE was rapidly approaching obsolescence, and so the ship was laid up at Devonport in 1989 and was then sold to a private greek company who were to continue her operating but this came to nothing and she was just laid up until being sold again in 1996 for scrap, she was broken up in India and her place was taken by RFA ARGUS a converted Merchant vessel.
(photo credit unknown)
We try here to give as full an account of her history as time and research permits, if you know of missing info
or you have any photographs of her, then please get in touch and we shall update her story as we go along.