Cammell Laird
Defence Services

RFA Fort Austin & RFA Black Rover

The RFA Fort Austin and RFA Black Rover refits completed in the autumn of 2012 are the latest contracts to be completed under the ‘through-life support agreement’ signed by Cammell Laird with Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) of the Ministry of Defence (MOD) .

Cammell Laird project director Spencer Atkinson said the £25m RFA Fort Austin refit took almost a year to complete and employed 200 workers. Meanwhile, the RFA Black Rover employed more than 180 workers over eight months in a contract worth £10m. He said the two refits mark a busy year for Cammell Laird and the RFA bringing the total number of RFA refits completed this year to four.

“The RFA Black Rover and RFA Fort Austin are highly complex military vessels,” he said. “The refits were a formidable task and required considerable skills and expertise. We were very pleased with how they were undertaken with the RFA and Cammell Laird working in tandem. The whole thrust of the cluster contract is to bring the RFA and Cammell Laird teams together to work collaboratively. Now we have been working closely for nearly five years we have built a very strong mutual understanding. There is greater continuity of engineering as a result. All the ships maintenance here and around the world is now being carried out by the same teams. That means more preparation time, more in depth understanding and knowledge of the vessels, better specifications, more structured costs and a focus on continuous improvements and innovations. The cluster team is again putting this learning into action in Dubai managing the £10m refit of the RFA Fort Victoria at Drydocks World. This is delivered as part of the global reach element of the contract where we manage the maintenance of our cluster vessels where ever they are in the world.”

Cammell Laird project director Peter Lam said the latest refits showed how the cluster approach is helping reduce vessel down time because the management teams and workforce are more familiar with the ships.

“The refit of the RFA Black Rover involved the changing of lifeboats, replacement of steering gear, fire detection systems, air conditioning units and the conversion of 3 and 4 wing tanks to cargo tanks,” he said. “Work on the Fort Austin included the repainting of the vessel, a main engine overhaul, replacement of the main broadcast and communications systems, an overhaul of the deck storing cranes and a complete refurbishment and upgrade of the accommodation areas. These were terrific refits to work on and we very much look forward to seeing the vessels here again at the shipyard as well as maintaining them around the world.”