Royal Navy tanker retires after 40 years of service

Royal Fleet Auxiliary tanker Gold Rover was officially decommissioned in a March 6 ceremony at HM Naval Base Portsmouth, after over 40 years of service.

Commander Naval Operations Rear Admiral Bob Tarrant and the Head of the RFA Cdre Duncan Lamb joined former COs of the tanker for a service of thanksgiving led by the RFA’s chaplain, the Rev Mike Hills, celebrating 43 years of work around the globe.

Rear Admiral Tarrant said that like the rest of her class, Gold Rover had been “small, simple and effective.”

He continued: “Her departure heralds the end of an era as she represents the last of her class; a class, which has given a significant contribution to the Naval Service.

“Gold Rover has proven herself a capable and versatile asset who will be sorely missed by the Royal Navy and the numerous people’s lives she positively affected.”

The ship was ordered in November 1971, launched 16 months later and raised the Blue Ensign for the first time on March 22, 1974.

Nearly 43 years to the day, the ensign was lowered for the last time as night fell on Portsmouth Naval Base.

The Rovers were renowned for their reliability – one reason why Black and Gold Rovers both served more than 40 years, while Blue Rover continues to serve the Portuguese Navy, and the oldest, Green Rover, still flies the Malaysian flag as KRI Arun… 48 years after first pumping fuel into the tanks of a British warship.

“The Rovers were built on sound, simple commercial design principles,” explained Capt Nick Pilling RFA, Gold Rover’s chief engineer on her final voyage.

“Their reliability can be attributed to a strong simple straightforward design of equipment and purpose, maintained by professional seagoing personnel, well supported by a focused RFA and commercial shore team with a wealth of operational experience at sea.”

 

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