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Military Afloat Reach and Sustainability (MARS)

RFA MARS The RFA flotilla is a civilian manned fleet of ships. Its main task is to support the Royal Navy at sea with fuel, stores and ammunition. The RFA also supplies ships for aviation support, amphibious support, forward repair facilities and secure sea transport for the MOD Future Tanker. The planned future Military Afloat Reach and Sustainability (MARS) capability which seeks to provide the Royal Navy with the ability to operate away from the UK for protracted periods of time. MARS vessels are planned to replace many of the existing RFA fleet following their progressive retirement from service.

The Military Afloat Reach and Sustainability program will provide afloat logistic support to UK and allied maritime task groups at sea and their amphibious components operating ashore. Although not strictly a one-for-one replacement program, new vessels will incrementally replace much of the existing Royal Fleet Auxiliary flotilla. The Military Afloat Reach and Sustainability capability is designed to support three distinct types of maritime task group: Carrier Strike, Littoral Manoeuvre and Maritime Security. The demands of each differ significantly, but are all composed of three common elements. MARS currently consists of 3 types of vessel:

  1. MARS Tankers; Bulk Consumables - fuel and potable water which are transferred by hose.
  2. Solid Support Ships, previously Fleet Solid Support (FSS) - Non-bulk consumables - Food, ammunition and general stores. Solid cargo which is transferred in unit loads, either ship to ship or ship to shore. Solid Support Ships, previously referred to as Fleet Solid Support and Amphibious Combat Stores [or Amphibious Combat Support (AFS(A)) ] ship, will provide non bulk consumables and forward aviation support to the maritime task group.
  3. Forward Aviation Support - The provision of helicopter basing and operating facilities to accommodate some of the task groups aircraft or to provide operational flexibility during a campaign.

While the total MARS capability is designed to meet the future needs of the Royal Navy, the three classes were planned to be procured incrementally, concentrating initially on the double hulled Tankers that are required in order to comply with International Maritime environmental standards. The original MARS program of 2007 had planned for 11 naval support vessels of three types comprising

  1. Five fleet tankers for delivery between 2011 and 2016.
  2. A single fleet tanker (CVF/carrier strike replenisher) for delivery in 2016
  3. Two fleet solid-support ships for delivery in 2017 and 2019.
  4. Three joint sea-based logistics vessels for delivery in 2018, 2020 and 2021

The fleet solid support ships continue to be part of the MARS program. The Military Afloat Reach and Sustainability capability will be in service into the 2050s and will be designed to accommodate the requirements of current and known future force structures, including Type 45, the Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers, Joint Combat Aircraft and Type 26 Global Combat Ship. Tankers will provide bulk consumables and forward aviation support to the maritime task group.

The capability to be provided is essential to the evolving logistic support needs of the Royal Navy. The proposed procurement profile of Military Afloat Reach and Sustainability ships has been matched to this need, the initial focus being on the double-hulled Tankers which are required in order to comply with International Maritime environmental standards.






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Page last modified: 28-07-2018 03:39:03 ZULU