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RFA Fort Austin (A386)

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Title: RFA Fort Austin (A386)  
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RFA Fort Austin (A386)

History
United Kingdom
Name: RFA Fort Austin
Ordered: November 1971
Builder: Scott Lithgow
Laid down: 9 December 1975
Launched: 9 March 1978
Commissioned: 11 May 1979
Identification: Pennant number: A386
Status: Active 2014
General characteristics
Class & type: Fort Rosalie-class replenishment ship
Displacement: 23,482 tonnes
Length: 185.1 m (607 ft 3 in)
Beam: 24 m (78 ft 9 in)
Draught: 9 m (29 ft 6 in)
Propulsion: Sulzer 8-cylinder RND90 22,300 shp
Speed: 21 knots (38.9 km/h)
Complement:
  • 114 RFA
  • 36 RNSTS
  • 45 RN Air Squadron personnel
Armament:
Service record
Operations:

RFA Fort Austin is a British Fort Rosalie-class dry stores ship of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary.

Fort Austin was laid down at Scott Lithgow in 1975, launched in 1978 and commissioned in 1979. These ships were designed to carry a wide range of dry stores to support fleet task forces; ammunition, food, explosives. They have extensive aviation facilities, with two flight decks, one to the stern and one spot on top of the hangar, up to four Sea Kings can be stored in the large hangar. These ships also have the capability to replenish ships at sea, via six RAS points.

Contents

  • Operational history 1
    • Falklands War 1982 1.1
    • 2000s 1.2
    • 2010s 1.3
  • Notes and references 2
  • External links 3

Operational history

Falklands War 1982

When the Falklands War began, the ship was deployed in the western Mediterranean for the annual Spring Train exercise, and received orders to head south, taking part in the landings at San Carlos Water as a stores and ammunition ship. When the order to head south was given, several warships had the WE.177A nuclear weapon deployed aboard. Amongst these were the Type 22 frigates HMS Broadsword and HMS Brilliant and the aircraft carriers HMS Hermes and HMS Invincible. Some newspaper reports also named RFA Fort Austin. The Ministry of Defence explored various options to transfer these nuclear weapons from the frigates to the safety of the deep magazines aboard Fort Austin, Hermes and Invincible. An MoD publication describes a complex series of manoeuvres to avoid the presence of these nuclear warheads in areas that would break the UK obligation to the Treaty of Tlatelolco, often referred to as the Latin-America Nuclear Free Zone. In no circumstances could ships carrying nuclear weapons enter territorial waters around the Falkland Islands. After the conflict ended, weapons were transferred at sea to the two RFAs Fort Austin and Resource for transport back to the UK.[1]

2000s

In 2000, the ship supported the British military intervention in the Sierra Leone Civil War.

Beginning in September 2007, the ship underwent a major refit and modernization at the A&P Tyne shipyard in Hebburn, Tyne and Wear

In July 2009, RFA Fort Austin was decommissioned and placed in reserve at Fort GeorgeRFA , which would be decommissioned.

2010s

On 27 May 2011 Fort Austin left Portsmouth under tow by the Belgian tug Union Wrestler and tug Svitzer Pembroke[2] for a £40m[3] refit at Cammell Laird in Birkenhead. This refit was intended to keep her in service until 2021. Later that year it was announced that her service life would be extended until 2023;[4] the Fort class will ultimately be replaced by the Fleet Solid Support element of the Military Afloat Reach and Sustainability programme.

She left Birkenhead on 5 September 2012, arriving three days later at DM Crombie in the Firth of Forth. She arrived back in Plymouth at the end of 2012 and spent early 2013 exercising in home waters.

Fort Austin formed part of the COUGAR 13 task group, providing stores, fuel, water, and ammunition[5] Fort Austin is also participating in the 2014 IMCMEX.[6]

Notes and references

  1. ^ "Operation CORPORATE 1982" (PDF). Ministry of Defence. Archived from the original (PDF) on 26 October 2012. 
  2. ^ http://www.qhmportsmouth.com/port-movements?shipaction=show&date=2011-05-25&days=1
  3. ^ "House of Commons Hansard Written Answers". UK Parliament. 10 June 2013. 
  4. ^ "House of Commons Hansard Written Answers". UK Parliament. 11 June 2013. 
  5. ^ "Royal Navy sails for annual ‘Cougar’ deployment". Royal Navy. 9 August 2013. Retrieved 10 August 2013. 
  6. ^ "HMS Bulwark leads ten-ship task group on Gulf exercise". Royal Navy. 7 November 2014. Retrieved 7 November 2014. 

External links

  • Fort AustinRFA - Royal Navy official website
  • Timeline at www.historicalrfa.org
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