RFA Black Rover (A273)

RFA Black Rover was a Rover-class small fleet tanker of the British Royal Fleet Auxiliary. She was designed to replenish ships underway at sea with fuel, fresh water, and stores in all weather conditions. She had a helicopter deck served by a stores lift and was capable of conducting helicopter replenishment. Displacing 11,500 tonnes, she was powered by twin diesels and has a ship's company of 56.

RFA Black Rover
RFA Black Rover at West Float, Birkenhead, in May 2016
United Kingdom
Name: RFA Black Rover
Operator: Royal Fleet Auxiliary
Builder: Swan Hunter, Tyne and Wear, United Kingdom
Launched: 30 October 1973
Commissioned: 23 August 1974
Out of service: 2015
Fate: Scrapped
Status: Left Portsmouth on 11 August 2019 under tow from AMBER II for Scrapping in Aliaga, Turkey
General characteristics
Class and type: Rover-class tanker
Length: 461 ft (140.5 m)
Beam: 63 ft (19.2 m)
Draught: 24 ft (7.3 m)
  • 2 × SEMT-Pielstick 16 PA 4 diesls
  • 1 × shaft
  • Bow thruster
  • 15,360 hp (11.5 MW)
Speed: 19 knots (35 km/h)
Range: 15,000 miles (24,000 km) at 15 knots (28 km/h)
Boats & landing
craft carried:
2 x Avon searider
Capacity: 3,000 m³ of fuel
  • 16 officers
  • 31 ratings
Sensors and
processing systems:
Sperry Marine Visionmaster radars and ECDIS. 1690 I band navigation radars
Electronic warfare
& decoys:
  • 2 × Corvus and 2 × Plessey Shield decoy launchers
  • Graseby Type 182 towed torpedo decoy
  • 2 x 20 mm Oerlikon guns
  • 4 x 7.62 mm machine guns
  • 2 x Dillon Aero 7.62 mm miniguns

Operational historyEdit


Black Rover was built by Swan Hunter, being launched in 1973 and was accepted into service the following year.


Black Rover was in refit in Rosyth during the Falklands Conflict and therefore took no part in the efforts to liberate the islands.


In 2000, Black Rover participated in Exercise Unified Spirit 2000 and Joint Task Force Exercise (JTFEX) 01-1. The combined exercise, which took place in the waters off the US East Coast and in the Caribbean, began on 9 October and included the USS Harry S. Truman Battle Group, USS Nassau Amphibious Ready Group and 14 NATO ships from Canada, France, Germany and the United Kingdom. Only two ships from the UK participated, one being Black Rover and the other the Type 42 destroyer Cardiff.


By February 2001, Black Rover set sail from Devonport Naval Base at the start of an 11-month deployment as the tanker assigned to the Atlantic patrol (south) task. Along with the destroyer Glasgow, she visited a number of ports as they sailed south and made their way to the coast of West Africa to support British forces in and around Sierra Leone. Later in 2001, the tanker crossed the Atlantic and headed even further south as she proceeded to the more traditional patrol area of the Falkland Islands. She returned home to the UK in December.

Black Rover was deployed from UK in June 2005 and its tasking included assisting with post-tsunami reconstruction and participation in multi-national exercises in the Far East as the UK's component of the Five Power Defence Arrangement. On this deployment, she was commanded by Captain K Rimell.

Black Rover now has the role of Flag Officer Sea Training (FOST) tanker, and in September 2006 she hosted the RFA recruitment video film crew. Black Rover’s role as FOST tanker allowed the film makers to capture many of the RFA's capabilities. The busy nature of the FOST schedule allowed the film crew to experience a wide variety of exercises and evolutions during their time on board.


In 2013, Black Rover deployed to the Falkland Islands and South Georgia.[2]

Black Rover was scheduled to decommission in 2016 [3] however she never returned to sea under her own power after docking in Birkenhead in September 2015.


In March 2017, after 18 months alongside in Birkenhead, Black Rover was towed to Portsmouth[4] to join her recently decommissioned sister Gold Rover. On 29 August 2017 the Defence Equipment Sales Authority (DESA) invited expressions of interest from companies interested in receiving an invitation to tender in respect to the proposed sale for the sole purpose of recycling of the former RFA ship.


  1. ^ http://www.royalnavy.mod.uk/The-Fleet/Royal-Fleet-Auxiliary/Tankers/RFA-Black-Rover[dead link]
  2. ^ "The freezing Falkland Islands mid-winter dip. Brrrrr!". Royal Navy. 9 August 2013. Retrieved 22 June 2016.
  3. ^ "Defence Equipment: Decommissioning: Written question - 24277". parliament.uk. 26 January 2016. Retrieved 22 June 2016.
  4. ^ http://www.historicalrfa.org/rfa-black-rover

External linksEdit