RFA Fort Rosalie Completes Libya Mission


The Navy’s long-running mission off Libya is over for supply ship RFA Fort Rosalie.

Fort Rosalie broke away from the Royal Navy’s keynote Cougar 11 amphibious deployment in May, since when she’s been devoted exclusively to Operation Unified Protector.

The auxiliary has carried out the vital – but unsung – ‘Del Boy’ mission (the nickname has absolutely nothing to do with lovely jubbly David Jason and the much-loved sitcom, it’s merely a contraction of ‘delivery boy’) moving among the ships of the task group off Libya and NATO bases providing food, spare parts, ammunition and mail (crucial for maintaining morale), and helping to move 200 personnel in and out of theatre.

A key task for the 23,000-tonne floating warehouse was to deliver a fifth Apache gunship to HMS Ocean via Souda Bay in Crete – the first time one of the imposing helicopters has touched down on a Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship.

An equally-important mission has been to keep the frigates and destroyers patrolling in the Gulf of Sirte fully stocked with ammunition; the main guns of HMS Sutherland, Iron Duke and especially Liverpool have been heavily in action, firing scores of star and high-explosive shells.

As for more general stores, they were ferried from the UK by road and air via a forward logistics site in southern Italy. From there they were moved to Fort Rosalie for onward delivery.

Despite the high tempo of operations off Libya, the RFA found time to pause and reflect on past sacrifices with a service honouring the men lost 69 years ago on Operation Pedestal, the convoy which saved Malta in the grim summer of 1942.

Seven decades later, Capt Phillip Hanton RFA, Fort Rosalie’s Commanding Officer, laid a wreath on behalf of his Service at two official ceremonies marking the Pedestal convoy.

After a brief stop in Civatavecchia near Rome – and thank the Italians for their crucial support throughout the Libyan mission – the ship heads back to the UK for a period of rest before sailing across the Atlantic to join in the fight against drug smuggling in the Caribbean and help in the aftermath of any hurricanes passing through the region.

Still on station off Libya are HMS Liverpool and minehunter HMS Bangor keeping the sea lanes open and allowing the safe passage of shipping.

In all 12 British warships and submarines and four Royal Fleet Auxiliaries have taken part either in the initial evacuation of civilians from Libya or subsequent international campaign over the past eight months.

Source: royalnavy, September 30, 2011