RFA Oleander aka Olmeda

4th September 2007, 23:21
I have a particular question at the moment.

My brother started his career with RFA as a deck hand, and his first ship was RFA Oleander, which he joined at Swan Hunters yard in 1965.

We have been looking for photo's of the ship with little success, until we found out that she was re-named Olmeda, in 1967.
Does anybody know the reason for the change of name? It would be interesting to know the reason.

Regards, John Cutts.

5th September 2007, 02:40
Hello everybody. It's nice to become a member of your group.
I am an ex 'Arethusa boy' who went to sea as a cadet with Bank Line in 1964, but for one reason or another. I didn't stay the course and left the 'service' in 1970.
I have a particular question at the moment.
My brother started his career with RFA as a deck hand, and his first ship was RFA Oleander, which he joined at Swan Hunters yard in 1965, a brand new ship to start with, (lucky b#*=#=^d), with his own cabin!!!
We have been looking for photo's of the ship with little success, until we found out that she was re-named Olmeda, in 1967.
Does anybody know the reason for the change of name? It would be interesting to know the reason. Regards, John Cutts.
Glad to be a part of you all!!!

Hi Carbman
Welcome to SN. By way of practical help...
RFA Oleander's ID Number was 6501331. She was a tankship (most probably a Fast Fleet Tanker) of 18,536 tonnes.
In 1994 she was called 'Niaxco' but was disposed of (scrapped) on the 17th August that year.
For more info try www.miramarshipindex.org.nz
John Wren-Potter

non descript
5th September 2007, 07:41

As your original question was very worthwhile, but would probabaly not gain the maximum exposure where it was (and still is) in the Hello Thread, so I have taken the liberty of moving it (as in making a copy of the relevant posts) and placed it here in RFA.

I hope the very supportive membership will be able to answer your questions.


Pat Thompson
5th September 2007, 07:58

Oleander was renamed Olmeda so as not to be confused with HMS Leander


Pat Thompson

You can't get enough pictures of "O'Boats".

non descript
5th September 2007, 08:01
Thanks Pat (Applause)

5th September 2007, 10:11
Look here http://www.rfaaplymouth.org/GGMtides.htm for a pic of Oleander.
(And lots of other O Boats for you Pat!) (Smoke)

5th September 2007, 15:25
On a similar note I believe the RFA Fort Grange recently became the RFA Fort Rosalie so as not to be confused with the new RFA Fort George!
Yours aye,

5th September 2007, 20:35
Yeah Slick I Think You Correct

6th September 2007, 09:38
Except that it wasnt recently, but in 2000. Its still a sore point for some of us. (Smoke)

Pat Thompson
6th September 2007, 11:20

Damm right Lancastrian, it should have been the new kid on the block who got to change her name. However George was "Bugsy's" favourite ship...allegedly.


Pat Thompson

You can't get enough pictures of "O'Boats"

michael higgins
6th September 2007, 16:01
carbman;like your brother i to started life as a deck boy on olmeda,joined in smiths dock north shields,spent 12 months on her paying off as edh in wallend slipway.great ship sailed on her twice more during my time at sea.

6th September 2007, 16:14
Of the 3 "O" class ships built, 2 were renamed. Oleander as mentioned above and Olynthus as she was too close to HMS Olympus, a submarine I think. Olynthus was renamed Olwen. Only Olna retained her original name.

7th September 2007, 19:42
I Myself served on Olmeda, I was aboard when the Queen reveiwed the fleet as part of the 50th Anniversery of the battle of the Atlantic.
Fond Memories of a good ship and a great crew. Andy

16th March 2008, 19:55
I joined the Oleander on her first voyage to the far east in 1976 ( I think). She was built by Swan Hunter on the Tyne and was a good ship, apart from her tendancy to roll on wet grass.
I stayed om her for nearly a year, spending most of that time in Singapore Stores Basin apart from a trip up to hong Kong with a Gurkha pipe band on board.
The other thing that we did was to refuel Aussie, Kiwi and American warships off the coast of Vietnam, because the Yanks had problems with some of their oilers, the Aussies only had one (HMAS Supply) which was back in Oz, and the Kiwis didn't have any. As we were supposed to be neutral in the Vietnam war the MOD never came up with any war bonus payments.
I remember an early morning RAS when we were working with little red RAS lights when an American destoyer came up along side, put a great big spotlight on the main mast, run up a confederate flag and played Dixie rather loudly. We were all blinded as well as astounded, and the Choff used rather frank lanquage over the loud hailer.

17th March 2008, 14:43
Oleander's first voyage was more likely to have been 1966 than 76.

18th March 2008, 16:38
Perfectly correct Lancastrian, a senior moment.

10th June 2008, 20:47
I have found amongst the detritus of a seagoing career the Heraldic Drawing of the Olynthus nee Olna it should be framed free to a caring home.

14th June 2008, 10:27
I have found amongst the detritus of a seagoing career the Heraldic Drawing of the Olynthus nee Olna it should be framed free to a caring home.

Olynthus nee Olna?
Why not send it to the Archive of the RFA Association?

Eddie Wallace
16th June 2008, 19:43
I was an ab on the Olna and believe it or not the skipper let me take my motor bike with me ,it resided in the firemans mess which was never used ,i had to sleep beside it going through the suzes cannal in case it got nicked the deck had just been relayed ans with the bike being on it's back stand it sunk into the deck,payed off in Hull and I had to ride the bike all the way back to Glasgow.

5th September 2008, 20:18
RFA Oleander arrived at Singapore Naval Base on Friday 13th January 1967, a day to remember in this cadets memory.

Michael Oldham
18th March 2010, 21:03
Recently came across this thread and hope Iím not too late to contribute a little. Itís of interest to me as I spent summer 1966 on RFA Oleander as a JOS. Joined her in Plymouth April 24th then sailed for San Fernando to load. Next port was Gibraltar where arrived a few days before start of the strike. Exercised off Scotland then returned to Gib [may, or may not, have been to avoid entering a UK port].
Most of first half of June involved in Portsmouth Sea Days then moved on to Portland where new articles were signed on June 18th [ten days or so before the strike ended], with the union manís blessing. Then went north to Rosyth, Copenhagen and Rosyth again before Portsmouth Navy Days at the end of August. Next, with HMS Devonshire, via Kiel visited Leningrad, Helsinki, Gdynia and Stockholm. Spent five days in Plymouth at the beginning of October before returning the ship to Wallsend for refit where I paid off on the 14th before toddling off to Southampton Sea School for EDH and Lifeboat tickets.
I remember Stevie Cutts. I seem to recall that he was not there when I joined but returned from leave sometime later [maybe on June 18th??].
Concerning the MOD not coming up with war bonus payments: if a ship served in the designated war zone the crew would be paid the Vietnam Allowance whoever the ship-owner was, wouldnít they? Probably pushing it a bit to expect the allowance for RASing, out in the South China Sea, because of where Parramatta, Taranaki, Newport News etc. headed after the RAS.
In April 1967 I joined RFA Olna at Portland, leaving the area on the 7th for Far East. Called at Piraeus and left on April 16th, a few days before the military coup in Greece. Stopped at Limassol before arriving at Port Said but then turned back for Greece area, in support of Hermes, due to current events. Eventually transited canal on May 3rd then, after Aden, got as far as Gan, before being ordered back again. This time to Aden area where remained at time of Six Day Arab Israeli War.
RFA Olna arrived at Singapore Naval Base on Thursday, June 22nd 1967 a date etched in my memory.
Returned to UK April 1968 and paid off on the Tyne on April 16th.

18th March 2010, 21:44
I was lucky enough to serve is all three "O" boats in my time in the RFA, Olna three times, and enjoyed every minute of it. (Indeed Lancastrian signed me off on my last day in RFA Service from Olna!) The ships' registers were always a great source of fascination to me (kept by the Pursers not the Master in an RFA along with all the certificates) as they were beautifully written historic documents. Both Olwen's and Olmeda's contained evidence of the name change early in their careers. The first Master's name and CoC no were inserted in the appropriate place on the front for all time. Subsequent Masters all signed the back at the time they assumed Command - I seem to recall Customs oversaw this signing in those days but maybe my memory fails me. (Apologies for referring to RFA rank titles in old money! Nowadays its all Commanding Officers and Logistics Officers).

19th March 2010, 08:57
I remember it well P52. In Trieste? I stiil talk in old money as well. I expect the registers are on flash drives or something these days.

20th March 2010, 09:53
P52 - the first names on the registers were Captain Eric (Poona) Paine (Oleander) and Captain I B (Bonner) Roberts (Olynthus). I was the first navigator in Oleander and had the pleasure of witnessing the raising of his broad pennant as Commodore RFA in 1965. It was also my sad duty to accompany the CMS of the day (Captain Barry Rutterford) at Poona's funeral at Taunton exactly twenty years later. Happily I believe he got in some very good golf between these two dates ! New money/old money - the ranks in your branch have changed many times over the last 60 years, but then so has the job. In my first ship there was the Writer, then in the next decade he became the Ship's Clerk, and around 1969, I think, the Ship's Accounts Officer. The LSL (BI managed) fleet had Pursers, so the takeover in 1970 triggered the adoption of that style for the whole of the RFA. The adoption of the unified officer ranks resulted in the (Supply) suffix, and that was in the 1980's, but memory fades. Now there are LSO's (Logistic Supply Officers) - perhaps that will change again if the STO(N) role is taken over ?

20th March 2010, 10:43
Thank you for the names and other memories. I recall changing from a Purser to a 2nd Officer (Supply) in the late 80s. I think most of the crew still referred to us as "the Pursers" until I left but I guess that has gone now in the same way as we never mentioned Writers or Clerks. Interstingly I was 2/O(S) then 1/O(S) in Olmeda when she became the first RFA to be manned in accordance with what was then known as "Warsash Manning" which was the start of one of the changes of role of the department over the years. As a career caterer I felt I needed to move on (which was my problem not the RFA's) so I left the RFA in the mid 90s when I joined a large passenger shipping concern where I signed on as "Purser" which was a four stripe rank. In the commercial world these days, there are precious few Pursers around - most passenger ships have Hotel Managers or Hotel Directors as Head of Departments and various "managers" in the other roles within the department. Some retain Chief Pursers or Pursers in charge of the back office / front desk within the Hotel Department. The company I now manage retains the old rank titles - our Hotel Department is run by a Chief Purser and to assist they have Pursers, Assistant Pursers and a Housekeeper. To return to the original thread however my happiest times in the RFA (and I have very good memories of my whole 10 years) were in the "O" boats - I was delighted to commence (as Assistant Purser) and end (as 1st Officer Supply) my RFA service in Olna.