One of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary’s largest vessels, the combined fleet stores ship, RFA Fort Victoria has begun its latest refit in Merseyside.
The refit will be conducted by Cammell Laird supported by a number of local and national contractors including interior specialists Trimline Ltd. of Southampton. This is the third refit in a row for this vessel to be led by Cammell Laird, the last occurring three years ago. The main highlight of the refit will be the installation of a double-hull which will improve her international compliance and upgrades to allow her to better replenish and support the new Queen Elizabeth class carriers. These upgrades continue plans to keep the vessel in service until the late 2020s.
Fort Victoria has been in service since 1994, infamously having a delayed entry to service after she was the subject of an IRA bombing while under construction at Harland & Wolff in Belfast. Her operational history includes involvement in Operation Telic, the conflict in Lebanon and numerous deployments supporting multinational operations East of Suez around Yemen, Somalia and in the Indian Ocean. At over thirty-one thousand tonnes in displacement she has been one of the largest vessels in the fleet, though is surpassed by the new Tide class vessels.
Fort Victoria returned to the UK in July of last year following an extensive 26-month deployment on operations in the Aegean and East of Suez. This deployment reflected the versatility of the vessel as it fulfilled a wide variety of missions including humanitarian relief to migrants, multinational command and control duties as flagship and her conventional refuelling and replenishment role for British and allied vessels.
This latest contract represents a continuation of the strong revival Cammell Laird has experienced over the past decade. As well as conducting a number of refits of RFA vessels the shipyard is also leading the construction of the new polar research vessel RRS Sir David Attenborough and has recently joined a consortium with BAE Systems to bid for the Type 31e Frigate contract.