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RFA Fort Class

Only one of the three current Royal Fleet Auxiliary solid support ships is capable of resupplying the carriers. RFA Fort Victoria entered service in 1994 and is due to retire in 2028, having already been extended beyond its 25-year service life. The Department has allocated 2 million to modify RFA Fort Victoria so it can replenish the carriers at sea and in 2016 budgeted up to 42 million to operate the ship to 2028. Having only one support ship with limited cargo capacity slows the tempo and reach at which the Department can replenish a carrier group. In addition, the Department will have restricted options for deploying the carriers for much of 2022 because RFA Fort Victoria will be unavailable due to major planned maintenance work.

Although all part of the Fort Class, these ships have two very different roles. Fort Victoria and Fort George combine the functions of fleet oilers and stores ships. Being large and adaptable they are equipped with an expansive flight deck, supported by hangars for three Sea King-sized helicopters. This class can embark and support both anti-submarine helicopters and troop-carrying Sea King Mk4 helicopters, which can transfer large amounts of stores to other ships.

For dual-purpose replenishment rigs are fitted amidships, enabling transfer of fuel and stores to two ships simultaneously. Both can fuel vessels over the stern. The variety of tasks that these vessels can be employed upon is reflected in their complements. The ship's company of RFA officers and ratings is supplemented by civilian Warship Support Agency staff and RN personnel who maintain the weapons.

The role of Fort Rosalie and Fort Austin is to replenish Royal Navy warships with dry stores such as food, spare parts and ammunition while underway. This complex task is carried out by the RFA and warship steaming along side-by-side and transferring stores along a cable rigged between the two vessels. Both ships are fitted with large flight decks and each ship has hangar space allowing them to operate a number of Sea King helicopters. This gives the ship an enhanced capacity to resupply by employing the VERTREP process to transfer supplies from ship to ship by helicopter. It also means that these ships can operate as independent force units with their four helicopters in the anti-submarine or commando role.

The ability to re- arm and re-supply the Royal Navy while underway, coupled to their capacity to carry extra helicopters, makes these ships a highly flexible and important part of any naval task group. They have extensive storage areas for stowage of everything from food to weapons.

The scope of work on Fort Austin in 2008 involved upgrades to the internal and external communications fits, new bridge and command arrangements, improved helicopter landing aids and improved fire suppression systems. The project also involved increasing the capability of the ship by fitting a variety of defensive weapons systems, together with a large amount of planned maintenance work to ensure the ship continues to operate efficiently and remains within Lloyds Register Classification. The project scope includes extensive structural, mechanical, and electrical systems repair and general upgrading work. Additionally there was a significant A&A package in aid of the life extension upgrades.

On 15 December 2010 the Secretary of State for Defence (Dr Liam Fox) stated that: "The White Paper "Securing Britain in an Age of Uncertainty: The Strategic Defence Review" (Cm 7948), presented to the House on 19 October 2010, explained the Government's intention to make certain changes to the armed forces in order to deliver the force structure we require for the future and to help address the legacy of unaffordability in the defence budget. I am now able to explain more fully those changes that affect the Royal Navy's surface fleet.... The final changes affect the Royal Fleet Auxiliary. The White Paper said that there would be a fleet of resupply and refuelling vessels scaled to meet the Royal Navy's requirements. With a smaller surface fleet these requirements are correspondingly lower, and hence we have decided to withdraw from service from April 2011 the auxiliary oiler RFA Bayleaf and the auxiliary oiler replenishment RFA Fort George."

ShipBuild
completion
date
Date
of
acceptance
into
service
Planned
decommission
date
Ownership
Fort Rosalie19781978 2013
[as of Jul 2006]

2013
[as of Feb 2003]
MOD
Fort Austin19791979 2014
[as of Jul 2006]

2014
[as of Feb 2003]
MOD
Fort Victoria199319942028
[as of 2016]

2019
[as of Jul 2006]

2019
[as of Feb 2003]
MOD
Fort George19931994Apr 2011

2019
[as of Jul 2006]

2019
[as of Feb 2003]
MOD

ShipCrew
complement
Approximate
stores
capacity
Fort Rosalie106 RFA
12 RN
28 Civilian
Ammunition, food and general Naval stores: 10,100 sq m
Fort Austin106 RFA
12 RN
26 Civilian
Ammunition, food and general naval stores: 10,100 sq m
Ford Victoria96 RFA
13 RN
23 Civilian
Fuel: 12,000 sq m
Fresh water: 370 sq m
Oil: 137,000 litres
Ammunition, food and general Naval stores: 6,400 sq m
Fort George95 RFA
13 RN
28 Civilian
Fuel: 12,000 sq m
Fresh water: 370 sq m
Oil: 136,000 sq m
Ammunition, food and general Naval stores: 5,900 sq m

AOR Fort Victoria
AEF Fort Rosalie




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Page last modified: 30-06-2021 12:06:04 ZULU