Skip to content
Recruiting now.Explore navy careers

Christmas message from Commodore RFA

Commodore RFA
21 December 2017
As another challenging and dynamic year draws to a close, the RFA, once again has much to celebrate which is only achieved through the hard-work, loyalty and determination of our people.

On board our ships, the year started with a fond farewell to the Rover Class with Gold Rover lowering the RFA ensign on an era stretching back almost 50 years.

Whilst most of us with more than a few years of service will greatly miss these simple, effective and popular ships, we must also look forward to the exciting future ahead with the first Tide Class Service of Dedication and the hugely significant entry into service of Tidespring – not forgetting that it was followed a few days later by the commissioning of our first new aircraft carrier.

I have never seen such an ambitious ship-build programme throughout my career and it points to a step change in maritime operational influence and ambition for the RN (and therefore the RFA) to operate across the globe.

On operations this year, we have seen Fort Victoria complete over two years deployed to the Gulf where she expanded on an impressive show of capability by embarking the land-based SKASAC helicopters.

Fort Rosalie, after a lengthy but successful generation period, has taken over and is providing logistic solid support to UK and coalition partners in that region.

Cardigan Bay took over in the Gulf from Lyme Bay as the Afloat Support Base for MCMV operations, conducted integrated operations in the Gulf with key regional partners and recently hosted HRH Prince Andrew and Trade delegations.

Of course, Mounts Bay has dominated the headlines during the Autumn with her work to support two major hurricanes.

But before her, Wave Knight saw significant success in counter-narcotics and managed to combine her Caribbean exploits with four weeks in the South Atlantic – perhaps a taste of things to come.

Back in UK waters, there has been little respite for Wave Knight with a particularly busy period of tasking in support of homeland operations.

Argus has overcome some challenging machinery issues as she approaches next year’s refit in order to deliver flying training across all helicopter types and often with multiple squadrons embarked – her role in generating aircrew for the future carriers should not be underestimated.

Wave Ruler has completed the year in home waters and is now being prepared for extended readiness to allow the regeneration of Fort Austin in 2018.

Finally, Lyme Bay, having returned from a demanding deployment in the Gulf, has completed her refit and will return to the flotilla early next year.

Wherever you are in the world, I would like to wish you all, seafarer and civil servant, and your families a well-deserved and peaceful Christmas and best wishes for a successful 2018!

Commodore Duncan Lamb RFA

Out in Korea, we have seen some tremendous progress with three ships accepted from DSME during 2017. By the end of the year, Tidesurge will have left the shipyard and started the journey to replace Tiderace in Falmouth for customisation while the latter starts UK trials.

We are looking forward to the Tide Class working with HMS Queen Elizabeth during 2018 and by the end of the year, once Tideforce joins them, we will have all four in service.

Of note, the MARS Tanker team are turning their eye towards Future Solid Support and this project has started its engagement with industry.

Ashore, the team, both uniform and civil servant, have been as busy as ever. RFA PERS OPS has undergone a number of changes in people and structure as we seek to improve their ability to deliver, recognising where additional resources are required and responsibilities defined, to achieve a manageable workload. 

It is rare to get a mention in the budget but the RFA managed that this year as the Chancellor announced changes to the Finance Act in order to include our organisation in the Merchant Navy Seafarer’s Earnings Deduction legal arrangements – a significant achievement.

Equally as significant was gaining approval to conduct our own workplace survey separate from the Civil Service or Armed Forces in recognition of our unique identity.

In DE&S the team are coming to a decision over the future support arrangements for the flotilla (and some of the warships).

But as ever, the true heroics have been delivered by individuals – from Apprentice to Head of Department, I am immensely proud and indebted to what you achieve on a daily basis.

It seems that this year in particular we have witnessed some sad losses among our people and I am acutely aware that there is a very difficult Christmas ahead for some – my thoughts are with those concerned.

The contribution made by our small organisation is very much appreciated by my colleagues in Senior Navy and this was on show during the Service of Dedication of Tidespring.

If anyone remains in any doubt, I commend 1SL’s Christmas video message where Tidespring and Mounts Bay play a leading role.

Not all of you will be able to spend the festive break with your families and friends and I particularly empathise with those new joiners spending their first Christmas away – a situation I experienced many years ago.

Wherever you are in the world, I would like to wish you all, seafarer and civil servant, and your families a well-deserved and peaceful Christmas and best wishes for a successful 2018! 

Personal from Commodore Duncan L Lamb RFA

Related articles

Navy News Magazine

We bring you the latest news, features and award-winning photographs from the front-line. Navy News has been reporting on all that happens in the Royal Navy and its wider community since 1954.