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RFA Rover Small Fleet Tankers

RFA Gold Rover and RFA Black Rover are the two remaining small fleet-support tankers in the RFA Flotilla. The primary role of the Small Fleet Tankers are to replenish Royal Navy warships with fuel oil, aviation fuel, lubricants, fresh water and a limited amount of dry cargo and refrigerated stores whilst underway. The transferring of fuel and stores requires the warship and the RFA ship to steam along side-by-side while the cargo is passed from one ship to the other via hoses and lines rigged between them.

These ships are able to replenish two warships simultaneously, one on each side. They are also fitted with a large flight deck which is served by a stores lift. This is used when helicopters are employed as flying cranes, ferrying supplies from ship to ship by air, and is used to speed up the replenishment process or in cases when a ship needs supplies but not fuel. Although not big enough to support a large task group, these ships are ideal for supporting individual warships or small groups on deployment.

RFA Black Rover has deployed to the South Atlantic carrying out many duties in support of the Atlantic Patrol Task (South), or APT(S) as it is called for short. While these tasks can cover any area of the South Atlantic Ocean, they are concentrated on the UKs' South Atlantic Overseas Territories (SAOT). The SAOT comprises the Falkland Islands, South Georgia, South Sandwich Islands, Tristan de Cunha, St Helena and the Ascension Islands. The primary objective is to support the Government's aim of maintaining UK sovereignty over the SAOT while also reassuring and protecting the Falkland Islanders way of life. The main activity is the patrolling of the waters around the Falkland Islands and their conservation zones including visits to the more remote areas of the islands to support the local population. The ship is always available to provide logistic support to British warships - normally by refueling and providing other stores at sea (RAS).

The primary role of the Gold Rover is to replenish warships of the Royal Navy with Fuel Oil, aviation fuel, lubricants, fresh water and a limited amount of dry cargo and refrigerated stores whilst underway. The process of transferring fuel and stores at sea is known as RAS (Replenishment at Sea), and requires the RFA and its customer warship to steam along side by side whilst the fuel and stores are transferred from one ship to the other, using hoses and lines that are rigged between the two ships. RFA Gold Rover has the capability to replenish two warships at the same time - one on either side - at the same time. This complex task requires a high degree of seamanship, especially in rough weather conditions and at night. RFA Gold Rover is also fitted with a large Flight Deck capable of operating helicopters up to and including Sea Kings. The Flight Deck is also served by a stores lift, which allows the transfer of stores by a helicopter operating as a 'flying crane'. This process is known as VERTREP (Vertical Replenishment), and is used to speed up the re-supply of stores where fuelling is not required.

RFA Gold Rover docked in Merseyside in August 2008 to undergo a refit package worth 8.5 million to maintain and update the ship for her role refuelling Royal Navy warships at sea. Northwestern Shiprepairers and Shipbuilders Ltd (NSL) are undertaking the work which is the first upkeep to be carried out under the MOD's new through life support contract, announced in June, when NSL was awarded maintenance of 11 Royal Fleet Auxiliary ships for up to 30 years. Along with essential maintenance and repair work, the refit encompasses a range of upgrades including a new Avon Searider rescue boat, installing an electric crane for Single Point Mooring hose recovery and replacing the diesel generators.

On 07 March 2017, with the last sun of a late winters afternoon giving sections of her 460ft hull a golden hue, tanker Gold Rover enjoyed her final moments as a serving Royal Fleet Auxiliary. A few minutes later in Portsmouth Naval Base and a formal end of service ceremony marked the last act of a career which began when Harold Wilson had just entered No.10 (for the second time), a pint of beer cost 20p and the average Briton drove around in a Ford Cortina Mk3, lived in a house worth 10k and took home 32 a week. Commander Naval Operations Rear Admiral Bob Tarrant and the Head of the RFA Cdre Duncan Lamb joined former COs of the tanker for a service of thanksgiving led by the RFAs chaplain, the Rev Mike Hills, celebrating 43 years of work around the globe. Rear Admiral Tarrant said that like the rest of her class, Gold Rover had been small, simple and effective.

Displacement: 11,522 tons full load
Length: 461 ft 04 in (140.6 m)
Beam: 63 ft 2 in (19.3 m)
Draft: 24 ft (7.3 m)
Propulsion: (orig) 2 x 16 cyl Ruston diesels (post 1974) 2 x 16 cyl Peilstick diesels
Speed:19 knots
Range: 15,000 miles (24,000 km) at 15 knots (28 km/h)
Capacity: 3,000 m of fuel

or
Fuel: 6,000 sq m
Fresh water: 300 sq m
Oil: 66,000 litres
Complement:16 officers
31 enlisted

or
53-54 RFA
Sensors and
processing systems:
Racal Decca 52690 ARPA and 1690 I band navigation radars
Electronic warfare
and decoys:
2 Corvus and 2 Plessey Shield decoy launchers
Graseby Type 182 towed torpedo decoy
Armament: 2 Oerlikon 20 mm guns
2 7.62 mm machine guns
Aircraft: Helicopter deck but no hangar

Ship#BuilderBuild
completion
date
Date
of
acceptance
into
service
decommission
date
Ownership
GREEN ROVERA268SWAN
HUNTER
Hebburn
Yard
1969 15 Aug 19691992 sold to the Indonesian Navy in 1992, slated to be decommissioned 2005-06?, but clearly still in service as of 2012
Grey RoverA269SWAN
HUNTER
Hebburn
Yard
1970 10 Apr 197024 Feb 2006

2006
[as of Jul 2006]

2007
[as of Feb 2003]
MOD
BLUE ROVERA270SWAN
HUNTER
Hebburn
Yard
197015 Jul 1970 23 Feb 1993 Purchased by the Portuguese Navy and renamed NRP BERRIO on 31 March 1993
Gold RoverA271SWAN
HUNTER
Neptune
Yard,
Wallsend
197422 Mar 1974 07 Mar 2017
2009
[as of Jul 2006]

2007
[as of Feb 2003]
MOD
Black RoverA273SWAN
HUNTER
Neptune
Yard,
Wallsend
197423 Aug 1974 2010
[as of Jul 2006]

2007
[as of Feb 2003]
MOD






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Page last modified: 04-02-2018 19:13:00 ZULU