THE last of a breed of outdated Royal Navy support vessels will be leaving Portsmouth today destined for a Turkish scrapyard.
RFA Gold Rover will be guided from her dock to begin her three-week journey to the breakers yard, where she’ll be ripped apart and turned into razor blades.
The voyage comes just days after her sister ship, RFA Black Rover, left the city on her final trip to sea ahead of being scrapped, as part of a £1.5m deal signed off by the Ministry of Defence.
Gold Rover joined the naval service in 1974 and spent more than four decades serving the Senior Service.
But along with her sister ship, the single-skin tanker has become an outdated class of ship, no longer fit for operations.
Former members of Gold Rover’s crew are expected to gather on the Round Tower, in Old Portsmouth, to bid farewell to the 11,522-tonne support vessel.
During her lengthy stint at sea, Gold Rover supported drugs busts, humanitarian relief missions and sea rescues.
It’s also thought the vessel replenished ships at sea 8,256 times.
She officially ended her service in March, 2017 and has been replaced by the new Tide-class tankers, which will help to refuel and resupply the navy’s two Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers.
‘Throughout her time Gold Rover has been a force for good in the world,’ said Captain Jonathan Huxley, Gold Rover’s last-ever commanding officer.
‘She has been a regular visitor to the south Atlantic and was always well loved by her crew and warmly welcomed by friends across the globe.’
During her decades of service, Gold Rover has taken part in evacuation duties during the partition of Cyprus in 1974 and Liberia in 1996.
She has undertaken flood relief operations in Jamaica in 1986 and delivered humanitarian aid at Tristan da Cunha in 2007, resupplying medical stores after 271 people in the British overseas territory suffered a viral infection.
In 2006, en route to Nigeria with Type 23 frigate HMS Argyll, Gold Rover was involved in a £60m cocaine bust after intercepting 1.8 tonnes of the drug off the west coast of Africa.
She has also been involved in eight rescue missions involving the saving of lives at sea.