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The Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) is a civilian-manned Flotilla, comprising 16 ships, that is owned by the Ministry of Defence (MOD). The Flotilla is managed by the Commdore RFA who is directly responsible to the Commander in Chief Fleet (Cinc Fleet) for its day-to- day operation.

The primary role of the RFA is to supply the Royal Navy (RN) at sea, with food, fuel, ammunition and spares that it requires in order to maintain operations away from its home ports. In addition, the RFA provided the RN with seaborne aviation training facilities as well as secure logistical support and amphibious operations capability for the Royal Marines and the British Army.

The RFA is manned by British Civilian Seafarers whose training conforms to traditional Merchant Navy Competences overlaid with military skills that enable them to operate RFA ships in close support of military operations.

During it's long and distinguished history the RFA has earned many battle honours. The Flotilla was deployed in support of British Forces during the Falklands War and the Gulf War. The RFA's also formed part of the British contribution to operations in former Yugoslavia and are often deployed in support of Britains contribution to NATO and United Nations peace-keeping operations and humanitarian relief.

Most RFA ships carry, or are capable of carrying, RN helicopters and the personnel required to operate and maintain them. Because RFA ships are often required to operate in war zones in support of the RN, most have a limited weapons-fit for self-defence.