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So much focus at the time on scrapping Ark Royal, the T22’s and Harriers but for my money getting rid of Fort George purely to avoid a refit and selling Largs Bay for a paltry few million had to be the stupidest penny pinching decisions that SDSR 2010 came up with.

As stated it might have been barely acceptable if a FSS program was launched in the following few years, but here we are 11 years later and still waiting!


The loss of the Bay was a tragedy.


A tragedy? Really? We still have 3. The Real tragedy was cutting our escort fleet to just 19 ships.

John Clark

Absolutely, typical of Cameron’s gambling defence cuts….

Replacement ships were needed 3 years ago….!


Be in no doubt. Cameron didn’t dispose of Fort George or Largs Bay. The Navy made the choice, prioritising other things. The Navy also put the FSS work ongoing at the time on hold, not restarting it until 2016.

Easy to say we should have x,y,z. It was a bit different at the time.


The Forts are fantastic ships. But cost a fortune to run.


Its 2020 , nothing is cheap. I just looked it up, charter a mid sized 8000 teu containership is $50,000 per day


The numbers for Fort Victoria are at the high end.

If we had all 4 up and running it would be a good chunk of the RFA’s budget.

I do have some idea of costs of shipping thank you for the interesting but tenuous example,

Meirion X

How do you know the running costs of the Forts?
Your friends in the Kremlin!!

Last edited 2 years ago by Meirion X

You use Google and type in “annual running cost Fort class RFA”.

And you get official open source HMG documents.

Meirion X

Thanks for providing this info Richard.


Shows Fort Victoria is £40,000 per day

Supportive Bloke

Let’s not forget the reason they got so complicated was the T23 project – they were supposed to be mother ships for the brood with active weapons systems, radar as well as command and control.

So there is a load of capability and spaces built into the Fort Vics that were never really used to full effect.

Being built with a big complex crewing in mind they will need more resources to run than an equivalent modern ship.


Yes they were built FFBNW Sea Wolf and extra crew. But they are a not complicated ship because of that. All those systems from the trackers to the VLS could have been easily accommodated on the big hull never mind the extra bodies. They are complex because they are designed to house and dispense a huge variety of stores from the humble fish finger to helicopter gearboxes and many other things in between. All in a hull that has to be able to pace fast moving warships.

The Sea Wolf VLS can be seen at the centre of the picture. Compare how little space it takes up with the similar system aboard the T23’s on each beam.


So seawolf silos were actually installed, but never actually used?


There are no such things as SW silos. The space (and covers) were there, but the various internal seatings, missile control units, trackers etc were never fitted.

Last edited 2 years ago by N-a-B

Sorry. I have should have been clearer.


Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

Back in the day, both AOR needed rebuilds to comply with MARPOL, whereas the old Forts didn’t. So understandable to a degree that one of them went.

What MoD hadn’t figured out was that there would be a reason the old Forts wouldn’t be allowed alongside QEC.

The whole hoopla about UK build has cost at least two years and will probably result in much less capable ships. If they can be shoehorned in between T31, T32, MROSS and all the other shiny gizzits. Shame there were two UK designs a couple of years ago – neither of which were BAES/ Babcock.

This one will run and run.

Meirion X

Any idea where did Fort George went to?

Last edited 2 years ago by Meirion X



For anyone interested in where old RN/RFA ships end up

DESA ship recycling reports – GOV.UK (


Is it really a single point of failure though. The whole point of Nato and these European defense alliances is that we can benefit from other nato support ships including as part of a carrier strike group. Unfortunately the European navies have been cut to the bone with no expeditionary ships worth talking about so they can spend their money on building two or three high end Frigates with barely any missiles. Germany sharing the Karel Dorman being a fine example of lack of logistics. I’d like to think the USA, Australia and Japan would be able to offer support ships in the Pacific.

Last edited 2 years ago by BB85

Dont forget the 4 ships of the Point Class PFI. 23,000 tons eachcomment image


Point Class PFI runs until 2025. They’re out of service before Fort Vic.


Rolling it over ? The ships surely have a longer life


Something else that should have been addressed in the Command Paper but wasn’t.


‘’Id like to think the USA, Australia and Japan would be able to offer support ships in the Pacific.”

Yes . Australia has its new HMAS Supply ( 19,000 T)now in service, while NZ has just taken delivery of its new HMNZS Aotearoa( 23,000T)comment image

Last edited 2 years ago by Duker
Meirion X

The downside of their navies wanting the Mk. 41 VLS! With No money left in the budgets for support ships. I am sure there are cheaper ways to launch Tomahawk?

Last edited 2 years ago by Meirion X

Well they used to be launched by hand.

Meirion X

Would it make sense for the Royal Navy to have have its own fire service, like the RAF has? Also RAF Stations have own fire engines.
Civilian water carrying fire engines, I am sure, are unsuitable for the type of fires on ships.

Last edited 2 years ago by Meirion X

Portland stopped being a Naval Base and Airstation decades ago ( I was based there in the mid 80s as part of FOST FMG . The FMG group was on the actual pier in the photo which is Coaling Pier leading onto Deep water jetty where the vessel is moored.). The airstation, HMS OSPREY had its own fire station that serviced the airfield and the adjoining naval base.

The advantage for the RFA and RN is everyone who joins a vessel does a mandatory firefighting course. It’s not just first aid fire fighting with extinguishers but wearing fire suits , BA sets, multi hose fire fighting using foam and water in smoke filled compartments. In addition you have a cadre of NBCD Q qualified senior rates who do a 6 week course on fire fighting and other damage control to fall back on.

In a fire on a ship the local brigade is usually relegated to boundary cooling and search and rescue and then its by invitation only by the Officer of the Day or CO. The ship’s crew do the fire fighting because they are more familiar with the ship, its layout and compartments and the equipment to use. Another factor is the Local Brigades priority is to save life and all else is pretty much secondary. On a ship the crews priority is extinguish the fire to save the ship. If you don’t everyone gets wet.


Every person on board an RFA, RN vessel is trained in firefighting. It’s one big fire service.

But the civilian fire service are the experts to give support. They will liaise regularly with the RFA and have detailed plans on vessels that are likely to come across on a regular basis, just as they have detailed plans and will inspect large buildings where there are known risks.

Fire appliances have access to a range of retardants.

Last edited 2 years ago by RichardIC

The whole Fire Fighting task is undertaken by the Ship’s Crew as has been shown in this incident with back up provided by Civvy Fire Fighters, let’s not add additional expenses.


Not the core subject but we squeezed 3 Merlins in to the hangar a long time ago in the early 2000s with mk1. Nice to see enough helicopters on board to do it again, but certainly not a first, despite what the Junglies would have you believe.


given the often said statement that steel is cheap, surely we should build hangers that are big enough to take the Helo’s without a folding tail. not sure how much this would save on the helo’s but it does seem to be a transfer of cost from one pot to another, when an extra metre or 2 length would cost a lot less and is always useful.


No. They could be 10 metres beamier and 10 metres longer and folding tails would still be useful. We need folding rotors on a squadron of CH47.


build hangers that are big enough …”
Could it be because the Sea Kings were 56 ft long while the Merlins are 64 ft tail rotor allowance


There’s only one carrier too.


Yes. And it is never to be deployed at any real tempo either. We would need three (perhaps four) times as many tankers and two to three times as many solid stores ships to do that. The USN operating CVN has saved them having to build a fair few numbers of hulls.

Last edited 2 years ago by X
Rob N

I was under the impression that the Tide class had a limited solid sores capability. If this is the case the AOR is not the only supply ship..


True. But only up to a point. Forts carry a huge range of items.


Limited means a few tens of square metres of stores holds and the odd reefer container. The FSS requirement is in the thousands.


Both Australia & New Zealand have shiny new AOR’s recently commissioned. As a fill in for Fort Vic (as per the basis of the article), do either cut the mustard? Realistically, who else in the area can fill in if they can’t?


Not really the same thing. The ships you reference are primarily tankers, with some limited space for solid stores and very limited space for munitions. They’re not intended or designed to support large scale task groups.

A carrier group can consume something like 25 tonnes of food per day, plus all the other stuff you need like bin bags, bog roll, cleaning products etc. That means you can easily be throwing over 100 or so pallets across every week.

That’s before you get to spares and munitions, which tend to be nationally owned, valuable and have monitored stowage and storage regimes (explosive safety regs are non-trivial). It’s a fairly big deal putting them on someone else’s storeship and therefore in their custody (however well you get on).

That’s why FSS is such a unique requirement and why there are no immediate off the shelf options for it. We’re making do with Fort Vic through necessity, not choice. Her solids capacity is actually quite low for her size because her entire mid-section is cargo fuel.



Thanks for the informative reply. Checked with the RAN website, new RAN AOR has 470t dry stores & 270t ammunition, so roughly 2-3 weeks supply.

Your post raised another question that I have not actually considered. What is the arrangement on something like this re ammunition for allied ships? There are 2 other navies ships at the start & others may join as they progress. Eg: All current RN escorts are armed with 4.5” main gun, but none of the others are. Most of the possible additional non RN escorts (Australia, New Zealand, Singapore etc) will have either 5” (127mm) or 3” (76mm) to add to the existing German & USN ships. Some of the smaller calibers may be in more general use & fuel is basic. At the moment only UK support ships are listed.

Last edited 2 years ago by D J

It’s not necessarily weight driven, lots of cargo types are area or volume driven/limited, so your RAN values may not match what can be fitted in. You’re also assuming it’s rigs are compatible with QNLZ, which may not be the case. Fuel is easy, solids not so much.

As for other nations ammo, who knows? Will depend on whether the individual ammunition types have been cleared for stowage aboard RFA and in what compatibility groups. This loggy stuff is non-trivial.

Don’t think the Germans are coming along though, suspect you mean the Cloggies.


Sorry, got confused with that German frigate that appears will be doing its own SCS cruise somewhere round the same time.


Was RFA Fort George really past it ??,


No. Of the two, she was in the better material condition, had not been bombed during build, had not been passed between three shipyards after the original build yard had the contract terminated and was the (slightly) younger of the two.

But she was due for a refit which meant capital outlay, which doomed her.

But either ship was only a stopgap wrt carrier strike. Not enough solid stores cargo capacity in an AOR.