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RFA Fort Rosalie visits Tangier

25 May 2018
An ill wind for Fort Rosalie was a blessing for Britain’s war dead in North Africa when RFA Fort Rosalie paid a rare visit to Tangier.

Strong gusts meant the supply ship was stuck in the Moroccan port an extra day… allowing the ship’s company to tackle a small community project.

A team of volunteers headed to the graveyard at St Andrew’s Church in Rue de l’Angleterre, where 13 British service personnel from World War 2 are laid to rest (12 RAF, 1 Gibraltar Service policeman).

The Rosalies found the grounds in a reasonable state of repair – the graveyard is a regular site of pilgrimage for the Gibraltar Squadron during the autumn season of remembrance (the Rock is only 36 miles away) – but the sailors did find spring vegetation was beginning to encroach on the cemetery.

This visit was very successful in further cementing relationships with the Moroccan Armed Forces

Capt Patterson

The oldest ship in the naval service with nearly 42 years under her belt, Fort Rosalie was launched as Fort Grange at Greenock in 1976 with a guard of honour of local Sea Cadets who included one Gerry Patterson.

Four decades later he’s now her commanding officer – bringing her home to the UK for a refit so she can continue her lengthy service.

The stores/supply ship’s visit to the North African metropolis was the first by the Royal Fleet Auxiliary in more than two years; Rosalie is returning to the UK from the Gulf region where she’s helped sustain the ongoing naval clampdown on smuggling, trafficking and terrorism.

Capt Patterson hosted dignitaries including Britain’s ambassador and defence attaché to Morocco, plus the Commander Secteur Maritime Nord, the Commandant of the Naval Base and Commandant of the Base de l’armée.

That was the precursor to a much larger reception for 90 guests in the hangar/flight deck for traditional nautical hospitality as the sun went down, closing with a Ceremonial Sunset which, to the delight of the guests, was accompanied by a haunting bagpipes solo from CPO(D) Kevin Mackinnon.

The second day of the visit saw the ship send a football team to play three matches against a local youth team (which triumphed in every game)

During the afternoon Rosalie hosted visitors for tours, providing demonstrations of weapons, medical, replenishment and fire-fighting kit.

“This visit was very successful in further cementing relationships with the Moroccan Armed Forces,” said Capt Patterson.

“Morocco has a long tradition of economic and diplomatic relationships with the UK and this is just one more aspect of our existing close friendship which we seek to strengthen.”

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