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Vessel type Tanker
Year launched 1981
Cargo type Royal Navy supplies
Country of build Sweden

Towards the end of the 1970s, the Royal Fleet Auxiliary managed to benefit from the downturn in world shipping by picking up five newly-built tankers that were laid-up after their ordering companies ran into problems.

The build

Built as the Swedish tanker Oktania in 1981, RFA Oakleaf was the last of the Leaf-class fleet support tankers to come into service, replacing the 1960-built Plumleaf. The second RFA ship to bear the name, Oakleaf differed significantly from its four 'sisterships'.

Bought by James Fisher & Sons in 1985, Oakleaf was bareboat chartered to the RFA and underwent a £5m, six-month conversion in Falmouth, which included the installation of special electronics and communications equipment, two replenishment rigs, and additional accommodation.


After successful sea trials in August 1986, Oakleaf's first RFA voyage was a trip to Florida, and in September 1988 the vessel was involved in humanitarian relief operations in the Caribbean following the devastating Hurricane Gilbert.

Oakleaf also provided extensive support to an international maritime task force formed as part of Operation Uphold Democracy in Haiti in 1994. In the following year the vessel was commended in the UK parliament for its role in aiding after a volcanic eruption on the island of Montserrat, which was followed by further relief work in Anguilla in the wake of Hurricane Luis.

At the end of the long-standing deployment as tanker to the West Indies Guard Ship, Oakleaf spent substantial periods in the Mediterranean, taking part in 24-ship Operation Argonaut in 2001 and visiting the Cuban port of Havana in the following year.

Acquired by the MoD

The MoD bought Oakleaf in September 2004 as the bareboat charter came to an end, but early in 2007 it was announced that the ship would be sold later in the year. The RFA was facing substantial fleet and crewing cuts at this time, and the ship was also facing non-compliance with new MARPOL rules on double-hull tankers.

The proposed sale never materialised and Oakleaf remained in lay-up in Portsmouth until September 2010, when the vessel was towed to Aliağa, Turkey, for breaking. Almost 97% of the ship, by weight, was recycled and just 2% went to landfill.

Oakleaf Fact File


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