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.