The supply ship RFA Fort Victoria is now heading for Faslane after leaving Birkenhead as her sailors prepare for renewed front-line duties, say the Royal Navy.

In July 2017, Fort Victoria returned to the UK following an extended 26-month deployment, much of which was spent East of Suez in support of anti-piracy operations. This included three months in the Aegean Sea in April 2016, taking over from RFA Mounts Bay.

Following her return, the ship underwent a series of modifications at the Cammell Laird yard near Liverpool intended to allow her to support HMS Queen Elizabeth, and meet current tanker anti-pollution hull requirements upon her entry into service.

According to a Royal Navy release:

“Since January, shipwrights and technicians have fitted extra protective hulls to the fuel tanks – used to re-supply smaller vessels than the carriers which have dedicated Tide-class tankers to ply them with black gold (two refuels of Queen Elizabeth would effectively empty Fort Vic’s tanks). More importantly, the support ship has 3,377 cubic metres of space for ammunition – from small arms up to air-to-air missiles and Paveway laser-guided bombs for the F-35 Lightning stealth fighters – plus 2,941 cubic metres of space for dry stores (spare parts, replacement engines, food).

If you brain doesn’t work in cubic metres, that’s enough ammo to nearly fill 102 shipping containers, and dry stores for more than 85 of the 20ft boxes. The rigs which are used to transfer the ammo/stores by jackstay have been adapted so they can be used with the new carriers.”

Crew moved back onboard in early August to begin preparing to take Fort Victoria back to sea, having to prove to assessors from the Flag Officer Sea Training organization that they could operate the ship safely and deal with any emergencies and casualties on board.

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Levi Goldsteinberg
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Levi Goldsteinberg

Great ship, real workhorse. Nice to see her rejoin the fleet

Jack
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Jack

Yes well done Cammell Laird. A useful asset for the navy.

Helions
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Helions

Sadly wouldn’t be shocked if the very next announcement was: “The MoD has declared the vessel redundant due to the new Wave class and has announced the sale of the newly refitted vessel to…”

Does this position reflect a jaded attitude on my part???

Cheers

Lusty
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Lusty

New Wave class? I think you’re confusing them with the Tide class! 😉

As a side note, Wave Knight has recently completed light refit, received a new commanding officer, and has just been affiliated with the town of Middlesbrough.

I hope this, along with the recent awarding of RFA maintenance/refit contracts reaffirms the desire to keep these ships.

Helions
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Helions

Doh! You’re right Lusty (can you tell my age here :D) The RFA’s are going to be badly overstretched with the new emphasis on East of Suez operations and the upcoming UK CSG deployment (hope the RN steams the group in eyesight right past those glorified PLA sandbars…). As any professional knows “Logistics wins the war” and without a robust RFA the RN might as well stay home. Same for the USN. They need to reactivate the other 2 Supply class fast combat support ships ASAP. The article I posted below would be an excellent start if the recommendations were… Read more »

Jules
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Not at all
Thats seems to be how our navy works of late

Ali
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Ali

Fantastic ship that gives great value for money. Just goes to show what a really stupid short sighted decision it was to scrap her sister ship the Fort George. If all goes well the fleet might get another 15 years, if not more, out of her.

BB85
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BB85

Still looks the part for its age, I take it Fort Victoria along with Fort Rosalie are due to be replaced by the three FSS when it is eventually ordered. Or if the order is reduced to 2, will Fort Victoria be expected to operate for another 15 years or more.
I haven’t seen anything proposed to replace RFA Argus either. Is that still a long way down the road?

Cam hunter
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Cam hunter

I wish we still had RFA fort George aswell…

Helions
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Helions

On the subject of major refits. I think the ideas outlined here for the USN’s Gator Fleet are excellent and should be made a priority to come to fruition. We need to get our heads up and out of the muck so we can see the next “Big One” coming and “be prepared” – I was a Boy Scout too… 😀

https://news.usni.org/2018/11/13/amphibious-warship-upgrade-plan-to-outline-offensive-capabilities-for-lpds-lhd-midlife-overhauls

Cheers!

Steve Taylor
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Steve Taylor

And this is where the RN via the carriers keys into the USN’s strategy.

Helions
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Helions

The QE’s are pretty offensive by themselves… DOH! I’m falling to PC! Way past the point where the USN can do it all. We are going to need to “get by with a little help from our friends”. Especially if they have high end 70,000 ton carriers… 😀

Cheers!

Steve Taylor
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Steve Taylor

In an operation I see them either hoovering up F35b from the LHx to free their deck space for more MV-22. Or indeed as base for massed MV-22 for an assault. I think a Wasp class in airborne assault ‘mode’ would carry 22 MV-22 or something. QE could swallow that number with ease. That would be quite a sight.

Helions
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Helions

I believe a QE in a full court press emergency can field better than 60 F35s. Something along the lines of 5 USMC VMFA squadrons. Working with an enhanced ESG of 2 Wasp or America class LHA’s you could base their F35s on the QE and provide a full 800 man Marine battalion lift by cramming their decks with rotary wing – both MV22 and CH53. Or lift an RM Commando if the joint op were in support of UK goals with RAF Chinooks involved.

Would be an impressive thing to see!

Steve Taylor
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Steve Taylor

Forts are useful but expensive to operate, but essential.

You can see looking at them why the roots of the late Cold War mother ship concept. Something we still need to build on and why we need to keep up and perhaps increase our naval helicopter numbers.

Andrew Brown
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Andrew Brown

Quick question… In time of war are not these RFA ships very vulnerable to attack? Would they not themselves need to be escorted by a destroyer and frigate, or sub? If so it makes our number of surface combat ships look even worse.

Daniele Mandelli
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Daniele Mandelli

I believe we once planned 6 of these ships for supporting ASW T23s in the GIUK gap.

And they were meant to be able to defend themselves with VL Seawolf.

Trevor G
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Trevor G

I recall up to 12 being planned, 6 full spec + 6 “cheaper” versions.
Also 12 Upholder SSK + 16 T23
I think that had the GUIK gap about covered.

2018: well, we have the radar at Saxa Vord back.

Daniele Mandelli
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Daniele Mandelli

Oh. That many. Only recalled 6.

Lol Saxa Vord is back but I heard they used the RRH at Staxton for it.

Dan
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Dan

Off topic, but has anyone heard anything about T31 recently? It seems to have gone worryingly quiet on that front again. The first one is supposed to be in service in five years time, and they haven’t even settled on a design yet.

Ian
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Ian

Contracts to be awarded in Nov 2019 after tenders have been re-submitted. Cammell Laird appear to be one of the front-runners.