New efficient flexible RFA Fort George -vs- older single-role Fort Rosalie/Austin

#1
Before I start writing to the Government to complain and ask them to provide an answer . . . can someone please try to explain to me the rational - if there is any?! :shock:

. . . why such a new, efficient and flexible ship such as Fort George should be taken out of service, when both the older, more (manpower) demanding and single role Fort Rosalie and Fort Austin, are to continue in service ?! :frown:

Note: Although both class of ship require a similar crew of 134/134 RFA/civilian stores staff, those on the older, more (manpower) demanding ships, ONLY provide a single role of supplying “dry stores”.

Name . . . . . . . . . . . . In service . . Weight . . . . . . . . Crew

FLEET SUPPORT STORES SHIP RFA (AFS)
“The role of these ships if to replenish RN warships with dry stores such as food, spare parts and ammunition while underway”.
Note: Dry stores capacity of 13,500 cubic meters.

Fort Rosalie .. A385 . . . 1978 . . . . . . 23,384 tonnes . . ( 105 RFA plus
Fort Austin . . A386 . . . 1979 . . . . . . 23,384 tonnes . . ( 30 civilian stores staff

AUXILIARY OILER REPLENISHMENT RFA (AOR)
“These two ships combine the functions of fleet oilers and store ships . . .”
Note: Dry stores capacity of (only) 3,000 cubic meters - PLUS - POL capacity of 10,000 tonnes.

Fort Victoria .. A387 . . . 1994 . . . . . . 34,000 tonnes . . ( 134 of which 95 RFA.
Fort George . . A388 . . . 1994 . . . . . . 34,000 tonnes . . ( 90 RN air group (as required)

I understand that the Fort Victoria and Fort George were the first two of a planned class of six. The class were
“ . . planned to support deep ocean submarine hunting operations conducted by
(a far more basic) Type 23 Frigate”.

. . . The Type 23 Frigate originally having been planned as an Anti-Submarine Frigate, being nothing more than a “tug” for the towed sonar - with not even any anti-air defence/strike capability - the “mother-ships” Fort Victoria and Fort George being intended to provide area-air-defence, having been “designed to carry the same Sea wolf GWS26 system (subsequently) fitted to the Type 23” itself, when it metamorphosed into a General Purpose Frigate.

Quotations from: “SHIPS, AIRCRAFT AND MISSILES OF THE ROYAL NAVY & ROYAL MARINES” Publication CP38 JANUARY 2004. Prepared by the Directorate of Naval Recruiting.
 

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seaweed

LE
Book Reviewer
#2
Without being able to see into the MoD decision here, I would remark that Seawolf is a POINT DEFENCE weapon, not an area defence one.
 
#3
I do not know officially but I would guess that the Fort George, though an excellent ship and capable of carrying stores and fuel, is only a single skinned tanker, which will shortly be illegal. The older Forts do not carry fuel so this will not affect them. Just a guess.
 
#5
Without being able to see into the MoD decision here, I would remark that Seawolf is a POINT DEFENCE weapon, not an area defence one.
Damn! Yes! My mistake - bad use of terminology . . .

:oops: :x

DELETE: All reference to "area-air-defence"
INSERT: "provide point-defence against air attack, for all the ships in the area"

:) :nod: :-D
 
#6
I do not know officially but I would guess that the Fort George, though an excellent ship and capable of carrying stores and fuel, is only a single skinned tanker, which will shortly be illegal. The older Forts do not carry fuel so this will not affect them. Just a guess.
Of only such recent design/build (both into service in 1994), I would be very surprised if this were the case!
:shock:

When I have some time, I will go away - and do some further research :wink:

Note: Sister-ship Fort Victoria is to continue in service!
 
#7
Perhaps it's because there is currently much less need for re-fuelling whilst at sea, and no greater perceived need for it in the medium term, whereas, it might be handy to have all those hard-to-get stores following the remnants of the flotilla around the Indian Ocean. Lets face it, you can get fuel at any commercial port, but spare parts for weapons systems are not usually COTS items.
 

seaweed

LE
Book Reviewer
#8
No, point defence means just that, Seawolf was designed (in the 60s) as a relatively short range weapon to provide immediate defence for its own ship only.
 
#9
There is extended point defence, but ships that want protecting have to stay with a fairly short distance of the Seawolf armed ship. Since it's inception various upgrades and iimprovements have improved its range and ability to provide close protection of a vessel being escorted.
 
#10
There is extended point defence, but ships that want protecting have to stay with a fairly short distance of the Seawolf armed ship. Since it's inception various upgrades and improvements have improved its range and ability to provide close protection of a vessel being escorted.
Yes. That is how I read and understand the concept of ASW as (then) envisaged for the twenty first century. The ASW “tugs” (aka the original, basic, Type 23), were supposed to operate around - circle around ?? - the Fort Victoria and Fort George "mother-ships", which with the appropriate Ops Room/systems - did all the “clever” stuff . . . carry/deploy/maintain the ASW helicopters, and provide (some sort of) air defence, and carry the POL and other supplies to replenish the ASW “tugs“.

I understand that the Fort Victoria and Fort George were the first two of a planned class of six. The class were
“ . . planned to support deep ocean submarine hunting operations conducted by
(a far more basic) Type 23 Frigate”.

. . . The Type 23 Frigate originally having been planned as an Anti-Submarine Frigate, being nothing more than a “tug” for the towed sonar - with not even any anti-air defence/strike capability - the “mother-ships” Fort Victoria and Fort George “mother ships” being intended to provide . . . . air-defence, having been “designed to carry the same Sea wolf GWS26 system (subsequently) fitted to the Type 23” itself, when it metamorphosed into a General Purpose Frigate.
It is acknowledged that the Fort Victoria and Fort George, have subsequently been “miss-employed” as merely resupply ships, with the rest of their potential NOT been used to the full.

If we loose both or either of the Fort Victoria and/or Fort George, we also loose the ability to employ them as they were intended - should the need occur.

As an aside - and not wishing to divert my own thread (!!) - we lost an efficient and competent class of ships to complement the Fort Victoria and Fort George, when we sold-off (gave away!), the deep-sea River Class mine-sweepers . . .
 

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#11
No, point defence means just that, Seawolf was designed (in the 60s) as a relatively short range weapon to provide immediate defence for its own ship only.
"seaweed", that is not how I have read or continue to understand the concept (See above).
 
#12
Perhaps it's because there is currently much less need for re-fuelling whilst at sea, and no greater perceived need for it in the medium term, whereas, it might be handy to have all those hard-to-get stores following the remnants of the flotilla around the Indian Ocean. Lets face it, you can get fuel at any commercial port, but spare parts for weapons systems are not usually COTS items.
:) :-D

I understand what you are saying . . . but, although POL may be available in all/most ports, I thought we needed the RFA to go and collect the POL, etc, as "warships" are NOT always welcome in foreign ports!

I acknowledge that I do not know the size of the parts inventory needed to supply a modern day RN "task force" when it deploys. However, I would have thought that the Fort Victoria and Fort George, "Dry stores capacity of (only) 3,000 cubic meters" would/might be sufficient :-|
 
#13
It is acknowledged that the Fort Victoria and Fort George, have subsequently been “miss-employed” as merely resupply ships, with the rest of their potential NOT been used to the full.

If we loose both or either of the Fort Victoria and/or Fort George, we also loose the ability to employ them as they were intended - should the need occur.
Post Falklands, it was ralised that the Type 23 needed to be properly armed, with Seawolf, Harpoon, and a 4.5" gun. We've always made full use of the large flight deck and hangar for support helicopters of various types. They lack command and control facilities and radar and sonar, and the like.
 
#14
RCT the rivers where minesweepers and are completly ill suited to have been turned into these towed array sonar tugs you speak of, especially out in the deep ocean miles from home. Talking to my RNR shipmates who where in when we still had rivers they wern't exactly famed for there reliability. Its an early cold war concept and not worth revisiting.

Plus the Forts never had any of the equipment fitted, it was a very early concept that never took off. If they did i think they would cease to be an RFA vessel legaly.
 
#17
Which one is more saleable?


See also. Old, totally clapped out and rather useless T42's kept, but rather gucchi and useful T22's flogged off.
 

Ravers

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
#18
Having served on Fort George and Fort Vic for quite some time, I would wager the that Fort George is in such a shite state now that it needs to be scrapped. She had a refit in 2006/7 when I was onboard but this basically amounted to a few scouse dockies painting some fixtures and doing some very minor welding before the budget ran out. The flight deck was in such a poor state at one time that she had a closed deck. The risk of large pieces of rust causing damage to aircraft was considered too great to operate helos from her. Likewise the weapons mountings, which are built as flat datum points, had rust bubbles and pitting all over them. In short some very expensive and important parts of the ship were totally fucked beyond repair.

The same situation was true below decks with both ships being considered very unreliable. It was a bit of a running joke that you had absolutely zero chance of planning your life as the ship's program was constantly being changed due to a machinery breakdown or some such. Much of my time on the ships was spent alongside small fuelling jetties in Scotland while repairs where being made on a very tight budget.

RFA's don't receive the same care and attention as RN ships because RFA crew members don't do all the shitty jobs RN lads are made to do. On an RN ship the lads are constantly cleaning and repainting the ship all day everyday, on an RFA, the lads do their own jobs and very rarely get involved in what is considered to be bullshit maintenance, they are civvies after all. This means some parts of the ship are neglected. It doesn't help that as the biggest ships in the fleet they also have very small crews comparatively. I'd say another inherent problem is the fact the RFA rotate their crew members every three months, as a result everyone is just counting down the days until they pay off. On an RN ship, a crew member might be onboard for 3-5 years, they build up a bit of knowledge on their part of ship and know what bits need more maintenance and attention. This leads to greater preservation of the ship.

In answer to some of the points raised, Seawolf was never fitted to either ship because some bright spark decided to design them with the weapons system nestled between all the highly flammable fuelling gear. Clearly the last thing you want around a few thousand tons of fuel hoses and petrol is the back blast from a missile taking off. It would be like mounting a Seawolf launcher to your local Esso garage.

And yes both the Vic and the George have single skinned hulls.

I can't comment on Fort Austin or Rosalie having never set foot on either.






Before anyone kicks off about OPSEC etc. everything I have said is already in the public domain. I believe the RFA magazine, gunline, even ran an article about how shagged the ships were.
 
#19
Having served on Fort George and Fort Vic for quite some time, I would wager the that Fort George is in such a shite state now that it needs to be scrapped. She had a refit in 2006/7 when I was onboard but this basically amounted to a few scouse dockies painting some fixtures and doing some very minor welding before the budget ran out. The flight deck was in such a poor state at one time that she had a closed deck. The risk of large pieces of rust causing damage to aircraft was considered too great to operate helos from her. Likewise the weapons mountings, which are built as flat datum points, had rust bubbles and pitting all over them. In short some very expensive and important parts of the ship were totally fucked beyond repair . . . .
FFS . . :shakefist: . . :-x . . :crying: . . :pissedoff:. . =-(

What a fcuking way to run anything - never mind a Navy !!
 

Ravers

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
#20
What a fcuking way to run anything - never mind a Navy !!
That's my point, it's not the Navy, it's the RFA, two very different beasts. Imagine if you will the following scene on an RN warship:

PO: ''Oi scrote, go and chip all the paint off that davit then repaint the ******. Don't stop until the paint is dry''

Scrote: ''But PO, I only did it yesterday, there is no rust on the davit anywhere.''

PO: ''Tough shit sunshine, if you don't like it put your notice in, while you are at it, clean and scrub down the deck.''

This scene repeats itself day in day out for the entire life of the ship, with every part of the ship being meticulously cleaned, stripped apart and repaired, even when it is completely unnecessary.



Now imagine the same scene on an RFA:

PO: ''Oi scrote, go and chip all the paint off that davit then repaint the ******. Don't stop until the paint is dry''

Deckhand: ''Er get fucked mate, I'm only here to operate that crane.''

PO: ''But.....but....oh **** it, I'm leaving this ship in two months, some other ****** can deal with the davit when it rusts through and falls off.''

Deckhand: ''Sweet, it's nearly 4.30, shall we go to the bar?''

Likewise this scenario plays over and over again.

I'm not saying all RFA lads are lazy slackasses, on the whole they are decent lads and they do their jobs very professionally, they just have a completely different and un-military mentality compared to the RN.

It would be like comparing a civvy haulage firm to the RCT, you don't see Eddie Stobart lorries that are 25 years old, but you do see ancient DAFs and Bedfords knocking around in the Army.

Edited to add: On ships with mixed RN/RFA crews like Fort George and Vic, it's like two separate ships joined together. The front half which is largely RFA is usually in a bit of a shitty state and the arse end which is maintained by the matelots, is usually in working order....just. There is only so much work 12 or so matelots can do, especially when only half of those are junior ratings.
 

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