BAGGER SEA KINGS AT HOME ON RFA FORT VICTORIA
Currently deployed to the Gulf providing crucial support to coalition warships, RFA Fort Victoria is also providing a suitable operating home for RNAS Culdrose Airborne Surveillance Sea Kings.
'Fort Vic', as she is affectionately known, emerged from an extensive refit in January last year to an intensive period of trials and Operational Sea Training, in preparation for her crucial role of support ship for International Coalition Forces operating in the Gulf.
As an Auxiliary Oiler Replenishment (AOR) ship, she offers the capability of both stores ship and fleet tanker, her presence in the region forms part of the UK's continued commitment to enduring peace and stability. Royal Fleet Auxiliary ships have been on permanent patrol in the Gulf 24/7 since October 1980, following the start of the Iran/Iraq conflict.
The Ship arrived in the Gulf in June 15, having transited through the Mediterranean and then onwards East of Suez, providing support to International Coalition Forces. Since then, under the operational control of UKMCC Bahrain, Fort Vic has made a significant contribution to maritime operations in the area, operating at an increasingly high tempo to deliver fuel, solid stores and helicopter support to coalition units operating in the region.
Captain Kevin Rimell RFA, Commanding Officer of Fort Victoria, said: "Fort Victoria exemplifies the finest traditions of the RFA. At the beginning of the year my ship’s company worked tirelessly to regenerate this platform and deploy on time. Once in theatre our success can be measured in the days on task, delivering stores and fuel to both UK and coalition assets, whilst operating as a maritime platform for 849 Squadron Sea Kings. As 2015 ended it has been with pride that I can look back and say that Fort Victoria has again shown she is a valuable asset to have in this part of the world."
Fort Victoria has carried out 43 underway Replenishments at Sea (RAS) with ships from nine different nations. RAS is one of the core functions of the RFA, dramatically extending the reach and capability of the Royal Navy's warships. Most of 'Fort Vic's replenishments have been conducted ship-to-ship, but the embarked 849 SQN Detachment Okinawa Sea King Flight has also flown conducted airborne RAS, known as a Vertical Replenishment (VERTREP).
849 Flight Commander, Lieutenant Commander Simon Wood, relished the opportunity to demonstrate the capability of the Sea King helicopter and to update his team's maritime aviation experience. He said: "It's always a pleasure to work with the RFA, and it's great training for us."
Fort Vic has delivered an impressive 22,923 cubic metres of Diesel, 1740 cubic metres of aviation fuel and over 600 Unit Loads of Solid Stores. The combined total of 24,663 cubic metres of Diesel and Aviation Fuel delivered, which equates to 5,425,101.57 UK gallons, is enough to fill more than eight Olympic sized swimming pools!