The 43-year profession of stalwart tanker RFA Gold Rover got here to an finish at this time as she entered Portsmouth for the ultimate time – minutes after a wartime bomb was moved from the harbour.
RN divers handled the German 250kg gadget which was dredged up in a single day as a part of preparatory work for the arrival of the Navy’s new carriers.
Photos: LPhot Dave Jenkins, FRPU East
NOT even German bombers may cease the final act in tanker RFA Gold Rover’s profession.
Simply minutes after RN bomb disposal consultants had safely moved a Luftwaffe bomb, the tanker’s 43-year energetic life got here to an finish as she made her method into Portsmouth and Fountain Lake Jetty, the place over the approaching weeks all issues helpful shall be stripped out because the ship is ready for the breaker’s yard.
Given her size of service, the tanker was permitted the uncommon honour – for a ship within the RFA – of flying a decommissioning pennant, a protracted very skinny model of the Blue Ensign auxiliaries hoist. Based mostly on a mixture of the size of the profession and size of the ship, it stretched for 140 metres (460ft).
Dredging in Portsmouth Harbour to clear the best way for the Navy’s new carriers dug up one more relic of the Blitz, this time a 250kg bomb snared by the excavator head of the barge finishing up the work.
That led to the harbour being closed for 3 hours – bringing all harbour site visitors (ferries, warships, trains) to a halt and inflicting jams city-wide… which prevented an excellent few well-wishers reaching Spherical Tower to see the tanker’s remaining entry.
However there was nonetheless a sizeable group gathered on the high of the historic fortification, cameras and smartphones on the prepared and the RFA’s commonplace tied firmly to the railings, to see tugs usher the 43-year-old vessel safely in on a blustery winter’s day.
Amongst them Cdre Duncan Lamb, head of the RFA. “It is a important interval within the historical past of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary – and maybe a second to replicate as we attain the tip of the Rover class. But it surely’s additionally a possibility to look to the long run on the Tide-class ships.”
Proper now, the primary of these – Tidespring – is on a 16,000-mile odyssey from the shipbuilder in Korea, crossing the Pacific, passing by way of Panama then throughout the Atlantic to the UK for remaining becoming out.
The yard the place the ship she replaces was inbuilt 1972-73, Swan Hunter on the Tyne, now designs vessels reasonably than construct them – highlighting the very completely different world the tanker ends her energetic life in.
Simply weeks after getting into service in March 1974, she was thrust into evacuation duties with the Fleet off Cyprus. She did the identical off Liberia in 1986 and delivered important medical assist to the distant island of Tristan da Cunha in 2007, when 271 islanders had been struck down by a virus.
Extra usually, nevertheless, as a tanker she’s sustained operations by RN warships, topping up their tanks greater than 8,250 occasions, most lately frigate HMS Portland off Sierra Leone.
After a proper ‘finish of service’ ceremony in Portsmouth – the equal within the RFA to decommissioning within the Royal Navy – Gold Rover shall be readied for dispo