The crew of the UK Navy’s Royal Fleet Auxiliary Tanker RFA Gold Rover has sailed from Plymouth for the final time on deployment to the other side of the world heralded by a high-pressure water salute.
The 56 officers, non-commissioned officers and other sailors sailed from HM Naval Base Devonport for the last time with an escort of tugs throwing water spouts high into the air to mark the occasion.
The ship has completed several months of intensive training and exercises with the Flag Officer Sea Training organisation in Devonport preparing her crew for any eventuality on her long deployment – such as providing humanitarian aid and coping with fires and floods.
She will spend some time in Portland, Dorset, prior to sailing to the South Atlantic on duties.
The ship will spend her final days in the South Atlantic making a number of port visits before returning to the UK for the last time sometime in 2016 before being retired.
RFA Gold Rover will then be replaced by one of four Tide Class ships being built in South Korea with significantly more capability than the current versions.
Commanding officer Captain Jones OBE, will command one of the new Tide Class ships. He joined the RFA the same year RFA Gold Rover entered service.
Built on the River Tyne, she entered service in 1974.
She spent her early days in and around the Mediterranean Sea first transiting the Suez Canal in 1975 and continuing around the world until returning back to the UK via the Panama Canal in 1976.
This was to be the first of several global transits, the next being in 1982 where she undertook Armilla Patrol in the Far East.
Since then she has undertaken Atlantic Patrol Tanker (North) duties, and numerous deployments to the South Atlantic, returning to the UK for refit and maintenance periods.
In recent years she has undertaken more South Atlantic duties where she has been involved with counter-piracy and counter-narcotics operations.
Press Release, September 26, 2014; Image: UK Navy