RFA Fort Rosalie Visits Cuba

RFA Fort Rosalie Visits Cuba

A British support ship has made a rare visit to Cuba to discuss the fight against the drugs trade and mark an historic anniversary. Royal Fleet Auxiliary Fort Rosalie visited Havana to strengthen counter narcotics collaboration work between UK and Cuban authorities.

Fort Rosalie was welcomed to the Caribbean capital with a Cuban Navy band and Guard of Honour including senior naval officers. The ship’s commanding officer, Captain Martin Gould, made several diplomatic calls as the ship provided a strong symbol of Britain’s bilateral engagement with Cuba.

Last year a declaration was signed which included co-operation on Counter Narcotics work and is linked to a wider aim to boost UK political and commercial engagement in Latin America. Cuba’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, local dignitaries and the British Ambassador and Defence Attaché used Fort Rosalie as a location for business meetings. The ship hosted a productive meeting on board with the Cuban Ministry for Interior to discuss some of the details of Counter Narcotics work.

The ship’s company took time to lay a wreath at the Jose Marti Memorial in Havana, which represents a martyr of the revolution against Spanish control. Fleet auxiliary staff visited a cigar factory and historic buildings and in exchange more than 900 Cubans visited the ship – the open day coincided with the Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

As well as supporting Counter Narcotics work as part of her Atlantic Patrol Task work, Fort Rosalie has a remit to engage with diplomatic partners in the region.
Capt Gould, the British ambassador and defence attaché hosted a reception on board for the benefit of Cuban military staff, officials and various international Defence Attaché staff.

RFA Fort Rosalie’s Commanding Officer, Captain Martin Gould, said:

 “Our visit to Havana, coinciding with British Culture Week, has helped to cement relations between our two countries.

“The counter narcotics operations run by the international community in the Caribbean region are supported by Cuba’s positive approach to the reduction of trafficking through their territorial waters; we hosted useful meetings on board to facilitate greater understanding of joint roles and capabilities.

“Seeing Cuba, being given front-row prominence in the port and making a large visual impact meant the visit was a roaring success. Our Ship’s Company made outstanding efforts and engaged with the local population during official functions on board and ashore.”

Naval Today Staff , June 15, 2012; Image: Royal Navy