RFA Fort Victoria completes life extension refit

Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship Fort Victoria has completed a year-long, £44 million refit, which will enable her to remain in service until 2025.

Photo: Cammell Laird

The phase two of upgrades on the ship were completed by Birkenhead-based Cammell Laird.

The latest upkeep work followed the first refit phase carried out by Cammell Laird in 2014. It was completed under the Through-Life Support contract held by the Birkenhead shipyard since 2008.

Critical tasks included upgrading the ship from a single to a double-hull tanker by adapting its center cargo tanks to comply with MARPOL anti-pollution regulations. Once in dry dock, holes were cut in the side of the ship and 180 tonnes of steel used to enlarge its double bottom margin, reducing the possibility of a leak if the outer hull is breached. To avoid the expense of removing the ship’s port and starboard wing cargo tanks they were converted to hold ballast water.

In order to enable RFA Fort Victoria to help keep the HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales aircraft carriers supplied with solid stores, one of the ship’s replenishment at sea (RAS) rigs was modified to increase its weight capacity, allowing stores to support the carriers’ 700-plus crews to be transferred at a faster rate. The upgrade has also ensured the rig is now able to cope with the height of the carriers’ flight decks.

“It wasn’t possible to complete phase one and two together as the ship would have been out of service for too long, and quite simply, she’s needed around the world,” Cammell Laird project director Spencer Atkinson said.

“The 2014 refurbishment was carried out in such a way that she could sail and be operational, and then come back for the second phase at a later date. For the past 10 years, during the lifetime of the Through-Life Support contract, Cammell Laird has been responsible for all maintenance activity on board the ship – major and minor, in the UK and abroad.”

Photo: Cammell Laird


As well as making RFA Fort Victoria MARPOL compliant and providing capability to supply the Queen Elizabeth class carriers, the ship was also given a complete bridge technical refresh.

This involved the complete removal of all navigational equipment, and machinery control and surveillance (MCAS) outstations, including all electrical cables. New decking was laid, and either new or refurbished equipment installed. The refrigerated cargo holds were given a major refurbishment, as was the ship’s galley. The ship’s entire hot and cold domestic fresh water system was removed and replaced with a total length of approximately 3.5 km of non-ferrous pipework. The refit also saw RFA Fort Victoria’s forward sewage plant upgraded.

Routine upkeep and refurbishment work was also undertaken during the year, including overhauls of the main engines and generators, classification society surveys and inspections, hull surveys, special surveys, and an overhaul of ancillary and auxiliary equipment.