Costly Royal Navy support vessel RFA Black Rover will set sail for Turkey in £1.5m scrappage deal

RFA Black Rover taken from Hardway, Gosport. Picture: Sarah Standing (170411-4774)
RFA Black Rover taken from Hardway, Gosport. Picture: Sarah Standing (170411-4774)
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A PAIR of outdated Royal Navy support vessels will soon be heading to a scrapyard in Turkey, in a deal worth £1.5m for the Ministry of Defence.

RFA Black Rover, which is currently docked in Portsmouth, will be setting sail for Turkey on either Sunday or Monday, where she will be turned into scrap.

Black Rover, an 11,522-tonne support vessel, was launched in 1973 and was part of the Royal Navy fleet until 2015.

But along with sister ship RFA Gold Rover, the single-skin tanker has become an outdated class of ship, no longer fit for operations.

Gold Rover is set to follow Black Rover to Turkey on August 15.

A spokesman from the MoD said: ‘The MoD sold the Royal Fleet Auxiliary vessels, Black Rover and Gold Rover, for over £1.5m to a Turkish recycling firm last year.’

Since being pulled from service, RFA Black Rover has cost the MoD a rumoured £5,000 a day to keep moored, with further costs being incurred after she started taking on board water in April 2018.

A £2m refit of the vessel had been announced, but never completed.

Retired Lieutenant Commander Mike Critchley believes the vessel has cost the MoD ‘an awful lot of money’.

‘For starters, the refit was only half completed – either because they didn’t need a tanker or couldn’t find a crew,’ he said.

‘It then sat around for about 18 months, which I’m told cost a huge amount of money, before being taken to Portsmouth. The ship has been here ever since.

‘She’s done what all tankers do and the navy’s had its money’s worth out of it.’

Lt Cdr Critchley is expecting a fairly large crowd to gather as Black Rover is towed out of Portsmouth Harbour.

‘There’s lots of interest from those who served on her,’ he said.

‘I imagine quite a few people will be there to see her off.’

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