On January 12th, 2022, RFA Fort Victoria arrived in Plymouth to a very busy scene in the Sound with a huge jack-up barge spotted leaving the Breakwater after working at ‘Deadmans Bay’ on construction works.
It wasn’t the only intriguing vessel to be spotted in the Sound, with the luxurious motor yacht the Bravo Eugenia visiting the city.
Fort Victoria’s return to Plymouth followed de-storing and off-loading oil at Crombie and Loch Striven, and she spent time in Plymouth Devonport and the Sound until May 15, 2023.
The huge replenishment ship was launched in 1990, and served all across the globe, and is the only solid support vessel critical to the Royal Navy’s Carrier Strike Group until replacement ships were finally ordered in January 2023 by the Ministry of Defence.
Three new vessels worth £1.6 billion were signed with a British-led consortium, with the first FSS ship ready in 2028.
1,200 UK shipyard jobs, hundreds of graduate and apprentice opportunities and 800 further jobs across the UK supply chain will be created, and the team comprising BMT, Harland & Wolff and Navantia UK, will deliver three Fleet Solid Support ships for the Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA).
Defence experts say around £100 million will be invested in UK shipyards, including £77m of infrastructure at Harland & Wolff’s Belfast shipyard, the agreement will see a further £21m invested in skills and technology transfer from Navantia UK.
Harland & Wolff will be one of the most advanced shipyards in the UK, which will be significant for future export and domestic shipbuilding as well as offshore opportunities.
Defence commentators are saying Fort Victoria is now entering its fourth decade with issues over regular maintenance, age defects, spares, and an escalating shortage of RFA personnel issues.
RFA Fort Victoria is presently at Birkenhead, undergoing maintenance and refit works.