Navy auxiliary ship visits Durban
Jan 17, 2003
The port of Durban will play host to the Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship Grey Rover from Monday (20 January) when the fleet tanker arrives for an eleven-day layover.
Grey Rover (A269) is one of three fleet tankers making up the Rover class. She was built in 1970 by Swan Hunter and was due for decommissioning in 1997 but remains in service. The ship displaces 11,706 tonnes and has a length of 140.6m and a beam of 19.2m, and is owned and operated by the United Kingdom Ministry of Defence - Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA).
Sister ships in the class are Gold Rover (A271) and Black Rover (A273). Originally there were five in this class that entered service between 1969 and 1974 – Green Rover and Blue Rover have since been withdrawn.
One of the recent duties of the class has been to serve as guard ship in the South Atlantic and Caribbean regions. They come equipped with a flight deck capable of taking either a Sea King or Lynx helicopter and carry fuel and lubricants as well as fresh water, refrigerated food supplies and ammunition for the navy’s fleet of frigates or other small groups of RN ships.
The ships’ Ruston engines were replaced with Crossley-Pielstick diesel engines, producing a speed of 19 knots, while bow thrusters provide manoeuvrability.
The RFA is a civilian manned fleet, whose main task is to supply warships of the Royal Navy at sea with fuel, ammunition, food and stores. Ships of the RFA also supply aviation support to the Royal Navy, together with amphibious support and secure sea transport for army units and their equipment.
The RFA was founded in 1908 to carry coal bunkers and other stores, and only acquired tankers when RN warships became oil-burning vessels during World War I.
Since then the RFA has seen service in every theatre of war in which the RN has been involved, including WWI, WWII, Korea, Suez, Cyprus, Beira (the Rhodesia blockade), Kuwait, Borneo, Belize, Aden, the Falklands and the Icelandic Cod Wars.
During the Falkland war Argentine aircraft sank RFA Sir Galahad near Fitzroy.
Several thousand personnel are employed by the RFA, making it one of the largest employers of seafarers in the UK. Personnel follow similar traditional training paths to their merchant navy counterparts but have a considerable overlay of navy training to equip them for operational activities.
Each ship is painted grey and carries a blue ensign defaced with an upright gold anchor.