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RFA Gold Rover is one of two remaining small fleet-support tankers in the RFA Flotilla.  She was built by Swan Hunter Shipbuilders on the River Tyne, and was accepted into RFA Service in 1974.  The Ships Company comprises 56 Officers and ratings of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, who are all British Registered Seafarers.

The primary role of the Gold Rover is to replenish warships of the Royal Navy with Fuel Oil, aviation fuel, lubricants, fresh water and a limited amount of dry cargo and refrigerated stores whilst underway.

The process of transferring fuel and stores at sea is known as RAS (Replenishment at Sea), and requires the RFA and its customer warship to steam along side by side whilst the fuel and stores are transferred from one ship to the other, using hoses and lines that are rigged between the two ships.  RFA Gold Rover has the capability to replenish two warships at the same time – one on either side – at the same time.  This complex task requires a high degree of seamanship, especially in rough weather conditions and at night.

RFA Gold Rover is also fitted with a large Flight Deck capable of operating helicopters up to and including Sea Kings.  The Flight Deck is also served by a stores lift, which allows the transfer of stores by a helicopter operating as a ‘flying crane’.  This process is known as VERTREP (Vertical Replenishment), and is used to speed up the re-supply of stores where fuelling is not required.

Although RFA Gold Rover is not large enough to provide the necessary level of support to a large Task Force, she is ideal for supporting individual warships or a small group of warships on deployment.  The ship is usually to be found supporting the Royal Navy in the Falkland Islands, or in support of the Flag Officer Sea Training (FOST) at Plymouth.