Royal Navy tanker refuels French helicopter carrier on counter piracy mission

Royal Navy tanker RFA Gold Rover recently refueled French helicopter carrier FS Dixmude and joined it for a piracy patrol off the Ivory Coast.

Joined by Ivory Coast patrol boat Sekongo, the ships patrolled 200 miles of coastline and waters off shore, stretching from the Ivory Coast’s principal port – and largest city – Abidjan to San Pedro, close to the western frontier with Liberia.

When the Ivory Coast patrol boat broke away for a specific mission, Gold Rover stayed with the Dixmude for a refueling at sea.

While all this was going on, French Navy riflemen hopped across to Gold Rover to carry out some training… and the tanker’s Royal Marines detachment joined the Dixmude to demonstrate how they disarm suspects and clear a ship of criminal elements.

“The French provided us with the finest French hospitality and allowed our team to conduct live firing on board the Dixmude using their FAMAS rifle and general service pistol,” said Lt Hector Bevan, in charge of the RFA’s commando detachment.

After more than four decades in service, this is likely to be Gold Rover’s final deployment, providing fuel to any RN vessel in South Atlantic waters.

Before knuckling down to operation Corymbe, Gold Rover hosted Abidjan school children, the Ivory Coast Navy and UK Embassy Staff. All were treated to full ships tours and capability demonstrations including fire fighting and damage control techniques by ships staff and weapon demonstrations provided by the Royal Marines detachment.