WATCH: RFA Gold Rover arrives in Portsmouth for last time after 43-year career

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SHE HAS been a staple of the Royal Navy’s ability to fight in theatres across the globe for decades.

And today, the oldest vessel in naval service, RFA Gold Rover, made her final trip to Portsmouth.

RFA Gold Rover arrives today

RFA Gold Rover arrives today

The 11,000-tonne support vessel is due to decommission next month – 43 years after first pumping oil into the tanks of a Royal Navy warship.

Proudly flying a paying off pennant, Gold Rover steamed into Portsmouth Harbour this morning, passing the Round Tower just after 9.30am.

She’s the last of five Rover-class ships built for the Royal Fleet Auxiliary in the late 1960s/early 1970s.

Gold Rover completed her last refuelling operation earlier this month, pumping ‘black gold’ into frigate HMS Portland off the west coast of Africa.

RFA Gold Rover Picture: LA(Phot) Chris Winter

RFA Gold Rover Picture: LA(Phot) Chris Winter

Her age – and changing maritime legislation – means she’ll be retired upon her return in favour of the first of the giant new fleet tankers, RFA Tidespring, which has just begun her 16,000-mile journey from South Korea to the UK.

Tidespring is the first of four new super-tankers being built in South Korea. The others are RFA Tideforce, Tiderace and Tidesurge. The 200m-long, 37,000-tonne tankers will carry fuels, oil and fresh water to replenish aircraft carriers and warships, both British and Allied.