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A very good article, a couple of point which caught me by surprise and some that have not been mentioned.
My surprise first, Is there a reason that the fuel tanks in England are not underground as this seems to me to be the more secure method. As well as the huge tanks not being an eye sore.
The question, do we not have refueling facilities at Mina Salam, Diego Garcia and somewhere in the Caribbean, if not that is a major oversight on our behalf. In the Caribbean we have as far as I am aware some disused naval and Fleet Air Arms bases for example what is the condition of HMS Malabar, can it be reactivated.
With the US point of axis now in the Pacific, HMS Malabar as a fuel, support, supply and light repair facility would aid with the Caribbean patrol. This would also be a useful base to re-activate if possible with the limited RFA resources which with the future activation of a carrier battle-group will be stretched if the MOD does deploy the QEs East of Suez.


I’m pretty sure there is nothing left of HMS Malabar and the site is now used as a cruise ship terminal. Perhaps with another cash something could be rebuilt but it’s hard to justify when it’s for a single ship which can make use of American facilities. I agree that keeping a very residual presence would have been nice but if we were to look for a new equivalent of Malabar it would make more sense to pick a site on the Caymans or Virgin Islands. I’m guessing we can and do occasionally make use of the American facilities on Diego Garcia. Not sure what the new naval base in Bahrain has but you’d have thought secure fuel tanks would be high on the list of priorities? No idea about Mina Salam, but as a base purely hosting RN/RFA vessels going forwards rather than actually being a British failicity it is surely the responsibility of the locals?


Fuel in Bahrain comes by barge from the very large BAPCO refinery which is a few miles away across the water. The barges service all warships from all nations who use the NSA2 (US) facilities, the NSF (UK) facilities or the BDF (BHR) facilities.

Gordon Bennett

Factually incorrect at the point of delivery.
Fuel is loaded onto a specialist barge and transported by tug across the harbour in Portsmouth where the barge pumps cargo into the warship. Both barge and tug operated by serco under contract to the Mod.

Bloke down the pub

When my old man joined the Navy during WW2, he was initially posted as a DEMS rating on the BP tanker British Energy, carrying oil from Khorramshahr on the Shatt al Arab across the Indian Ocean to Mombassa , where the British Indian fleet was holed up after we’d been chucked out of Singapore. Unless someone comes up with a cheap compact nuclear reactor, it looks like someone will be doing a similar job for many years to come.


Researching my dads naval history, I came across your entry. My dad joined the navy and was a DEMS rating on the BP tanker British Energy! I have been struggeling with my research as he talked very little about his time during the war, so any info you have would be greatly appreciated.
His name was Frederick Douglas Charles Albones, I am his elder daughter.
Andrea Watson (nee Albones)

Graham Grice

A nicely written an informative article. However, there are a number of minor inaccuracies:

The article states “The DSFA (Defence Strategic Fuels Authority) administers contracts with commercial suppliers for the supply of fuel to the MoD. It also places ‘spot bunker’ contracts for one-off fuel consignments worldwide to HM Ships”. Actually, DSFA provide MOD fuels policy and fuels technical services. The contracts are placed and administered by DE&S in Abbey Wood – Bristol.

In talking about the Fisher vessels you say “These vessels collect the F-76 marine diesel and F-44 aviation fuel from the refineries, mostly around the UK, and deliver it to the OFDs”. This might occasionally by true, but in the main, cargoes of NATO F-44 and NATO F-76 for the RN are delivered to the OFDs by the MOD chartered Maersk vessel or by a vessel chartered by the fuel company making the delivery. It is true that the Fisher vessel are used regularly to transport fuel between the OFDs.

You say that “The Oil and Pipelines Agency (OPA), manages the Government Pipeline and Storage System (GPSS) and the six OFDs on behalf of the MoD”. Only the second part of this statement remains true, when the GPSS was sold, as you mention, in 2015, the responsibility for operating it transferred to the new owner – Compañía Logística de Hidrocarburos, a Spanish company and the GPSS is now called the CLH-PS.

In your list of locations where the RN has fuel stored you mention Gibraltar. Presently the RN has no fuel storage in Gibraltar – sadly.

Despite these minor inaccuracies I enjoyed the read, so please keep them coming and if you would like to know anything else about fuel do give me a shout.

Best Regards


What’s so special about F-76? More refined?

Graham Grice

Slightly more refined, lower filter blocking tendency and a number of special additives in the mix.

Anton Martiniussen

Does anyone know who is the manufacturer /name of the fuel nozzle / probe that’s used at the end of the ship to ship refuelling hose. Where are they made for the Royal Navy? Available from who in the UK?