Swan Hunter’s RFA Gold Rover to end service after 43 years at sea

A Royal Navy supply ship RFA Gold Rover, built at Newcastle’s Swan Hunter shipyard, is to be decommissioned after 43 years of service.

The small fleet tanker of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary sailed into Portsmouth Naval Base for the final time and is to be replaced by the double-hulled RFA Tidespring and her sister vassals; Tiderace, Tidesurge and Tideforce.

Launched March 7 1973, the vassal has served as support to Royal Navy fleets on several global operations with duties including evacuations, fuel transportation and flood relief.

In July 1974 Gold Rover was part of the evacuation duties during the division of Cyprus throughout the Turkish invasion.

She was also part of British flood relief efforts during the 1986 flooding in Jamaica.

Throughout her lifetime, Gold Rover has been involved in eight rescue missions at sea.

However the most famous operation the ship undertook was in 2006 when she intercepted an unregistered vassal carrying around 2 tonnes of cocaine of the coast of West Africa.

The haul had an estimated street value of more than £60 million.

Commodore Duncan Lamb, head of the RFA said: “This is a significant period in the history of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary and perhaps a moment to reflect as we reach the end of the Rover Class.

“It is also an opportunity to look to the future at the Tide Class ships.

“These versatile and hugely capable new vessels will significantly enhance the global operational output currently provided by the Royal Fleet Auxiliary.”

Gold Rover will have an official end of service ceremony on March 6 at Portsmouth dockyard.

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