Rfa Fort Victoria

the brit
11th October 2011, 20:28
just read that RFA Fort Victoria aided in the release of the Montecristo ship hijacked by pirates, congratulations to Captain Shaun Jones and his crew on a job well executed and well done Sir.
kepp up your fabulous work in the area.

borderreiver
11th October 2011, 21:21
Another good reason to get the Fort George out and running

NickNZ
13th October 2011, 10:43
Well, if you haven't got any warships....

Scottish_Rover
14th October 2011, 13:31
Another good reason to get the Fort George out and running

Not looking good on that front...

http://www.historicalrfa.org/news-about-the-royal-fleet-auxiliary/1237-rfa-fort-georges-identity-is-removed

LouisB
14th October 2011, 14:46
Well, if you haven't got any warships....

Hi NickNZ,

I think that the point is that these days over 90% of work that a purpose built frigate or destroyer carries out can equally be tasked to an RFA. The remaining 10% or so, such as shore bombardment and wartime air defenceand/convoy/a.s. screening and battle group capital ship protection is only suited to a purpose built and armed warship.

With embarked specialist boarding/assault groups there is no reason why a modern RFA cannot be used - in most situations the warship has no real advantage. RFA's can, and do, carry armed Merlin helicopters (some RN ships can only use smaller less capable helicopters if any at all) and the vessels are fairly well armed for defence with a variety of modern weapons systems. Crews on these vessels, whilst nominally older, are extremely well trained and motivated and ships are integrated with full military communication and data systems. A further advantage that in specific situations the large helicopters can be used in an a.s. role

The average warhsip is faster and generally more manoeuverable but for general policeing duties etc has no significant advantage and is more expensive in manning, running, capital cost and weaponry. Add to that the arguable point that the larger hull size as is found with an RFA, would be more survivable against an rpg (the pirates weapon of choice) than that of a frigate.



LouisB

Mick Spear
14th October 2011, 15:37
A very good and informative post LouisB. RFA platforms are becoming more and more able and capable.Most Maritime tasking is now RFA centric: training of foreign armed forces; counter drug smuggling; humanitarian aid to name a few.
Mick S

LouisB
14th October 2011, 19:08
A very good and informative post LouisB. RFA platforms are becoming more and more able and capable.Most Maritime tasking is now RFA centric: training of foreign armed forces; counter drug smuggling; humanitarian aid to name a few.
Mick S

Mick,

I could tells tales of what happened in my eleven years, when most things were in a rather grey legal area, however this is a public forum although some of the old salts still around will no doubt give a knowing wink. (Eats)

Thanks for the comments re my posting.



LouisB

NickNZ
20th October 2011, 09:57
I accept your point LouisB, and it is well made.
However, from what I have read through this website, the RFA's are disappearing almost as fast as the RN ships, and that worries me.

chadburn
20th October 2011, 15:11
Do all of the Merchant Navy manned RFA vessel's belong to HMG or are there still some on Bareboat Charter?

LouisB
21st October 2011, 02:19
Do all of the Merchant Navy manned RFA vessel's belong to HMG or are there still some on Bareboat Charter?

Hi Chadburn,

As far as I am aware I think that these days, with the possible exception of the remaining 'Leaf' class vessel, everything is now Government owned and mostly to military design. The crewing of the ships is now regularised compared to the past and they are trained in the use/manning of the vessels defence weapons. When the vessels are operated in hostile conditions the entire crew come under a 'Reserve' military classification with a somewhat different set of conditions. :) It's been an arguable point, but over the years the strong affiliation with the Merchant Service has, as the job became more career orientated, devolved away from its original MN connection. Officers and ratings are now classed as civil servants and many parts of the original Merchant Shipping Legislation has been amended or added to, reflecting the ccloser integration with the various branches of defence and use of the ships as an active unit within the Naval Service. Of course, when in harms way, for legal and practical reasons the crew status can change.

In my day all of the front line specialist vessels were Government owned but there were a large amount of 'Leaf' class freighting tankers, most of which could to some extent RAS astern or on the beam (some) if required. However this class of ship mainly transported oil to various Naval depots.

These vessels were on bareboat charter from London Overseas Freighters and were generally standard 25,000 ton Doxford engined commercial tankers . A few had abeam RAS rigs and Bofors platforms/ammo lockers fitted, all had military communications equipment facilities.

Prior to being handed back they were restored to their original specifications

When I was on the Beira blockade on an old Tide boat (ugh...) we were topped up from time to time by various Leaf's with furnace oil and diesel for replenishment to the warships. However as we have gradually withdrawn from the Far East and with far less military commitments the call for chartered vessels has dropped to virtually nil.

The Forland shipping arrangement for military sealift is a PFI arrangement and does not as such come under the RFA auspices as I understand it. Although I keep in touch as much as possible I have been out of the loop for a considerable time but the above information is correct to the best of my knowledge.


LouisB

chadburn
21st October 2011, 17:20
Louis, thank you for your comprehensive reply which in itself makes interesting reading regarding their "status" in regard's to coming under the Naval Discipline Act in times of War (along I assume with the suspension of any Union activities) however, as far as I am aware the Crew's are still Merchant Seaman when they come across a Pirate/Terrorist Skiff which is why I presume they need to carry an Armed Military Party. The question I will ask is, If the vessel is attacked with RPG's does the Crew's status suddenly change so that they can fire back or will they still be in "Merchant" mode and rely on the Armed Military Party?

borderreiver
21st October 2011, 19:05
The RFA also have a very good safety record. Seem,s they lost one ship in the indian ocean many many years ago. But have had no more serious accidents unlike the R N. Very good platform for the RN to work from. Large cranes for lifting boats and even heavy craft. also large helo landing deck. and also long legs. Unlike the RN

LouisB
21st October 2011, 21:52
Louis, thank you for your comprehensive reply which in itself makes interesting reading regarding their "status" in regard's to coming under the Naval Discipline Act in times of War (along I assume with the suspension of any Union activities) however, as far as I am aware the Crew's are still Merchant Seaman when they come across a Pirate/Terrorist Skiff which is why I presume they need to carry an Armed Military Party. The question I will ask is, If the vessel is attacked with RPG's does the Crew's status suddenly change so that they can fire back or will they still be in "Merchant" mode and rely on the Armed Military Party?

Hi Chadburn,

It depends on the definition of 'Merchant Seaman'. In a dictionary merchant seaman describes someone employed in Merchant shipping. RFA's are many things but not ships employed in commerce, although the original basic requirement for employment would be an approved certificate of competency (for navigation or engineering) or equivalent RN watchkeeping certificate.People from a commercial merchant ship background apply all the time to join the RFA and for the few accepted, the training only really starts from that point assuming they have agreed to the special conditions of service. The same goes for the communications branch who will do various training courses at Collingwood or Mercury or wherever they use these days in order to learn protacols and be able to operate to an acceptable standard. So the entrance academic requirements are the same as the Merchant Service but the definition is that of a Civil Servant serving on a non commissioned Naval Auxiliary. I hope it's the Civil Service as they are the people paying my RFA pension. :)

When in an operational area where hostility or armed action may be required or suddenly occurs then the crew would be automatically under the Reserved auspices and allowed to protect themselves irrespective of carrying military boarding/assault specialist groups. Members of the civilian crew are trained to use the weaponry fitted/carried in defence of the vessel. This is all taken care of by various existing legislation - at the end of the day although Police are civilians they do at times carry and use weapons when on duty. There is no 'switching' between roles as the status of the crew is the same at all times.

These days it is all done very professionally, with senior RFA officers attending RN warfare and military command courses. They stay as civilians and are not commissioned but given the courtesy of their rank, nevertheless they have full legal authority to carry out CinC's (N) orders. The RFA is now a fully integral part of the Naval Service (note, I do not say the Royal Navy as they are also part of the Naval Service!)


LouisB(Scribe)

chadburn
25th October 2011, 19:05
Thank's LouisB, I just find it interesting that the Union's appear to be supporting the "Blue Ensign area" of the Merchant Service but I have yet to see/read any reaction to the German and now Italian proposal to have Military Armed Team's (not the Crew) on the "Red Ensign" vessel's when being routed through the danger area's. As far as I remember the International agreement to allow Auxilary Vessel's to be armed for defence purposes in peacetime did not come in till the 1970's? and was for (like the Israeli's) more to do with the Terrorist threat rather than being used in the anti Pirate role which was usually done at sea by armed vessel's belonging to either the RAF or the RN.

LouisB
25th October 2011, 20:52
QUOTE=chadburn;546946]Thank's LouisB, I just find it interesting that the Union's appear to be supporting the "Blue Ensign area" of the Merchant Service but I have yet to see/read any reaction to the German and now Italian proposal to have Military Armed Team's (not the Crew) on the "Red Ensign" vessel's when being routed through the danger area's. As far as I remember the International agreement to allow Auxilary Vessel's to be armed for defence purposes in peacetime did not come in till the 1970's? and was for (like the Israeli's) more to do with the Terrorist threat rather than being used in the anti Pirate role which was usually done at sea by armed vessel's belonging to either the RAF or the RN.[/QUOTE]
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I really can't think of a reason that the 'unions' would be against the happenings on an RFA' The crews agree to the conditions of service and are well aware of what their role could, and sometimes, does involve. It is now a career job for many of them, with good salaries and a very good pension. From what I gather, most enjoy the job due to the fact that it is vastly different and gives them extra skills. The few I have actually spoken to were quite proud of their role!

Why would unions cause dissent within the UK's largest employer of UK seafarers? Most of the time the RFA has little or no involvement with the Merchant Service. My passport at the time was marked as 'Government Service' At the end of the day you may call yourself whatever you wish, however your official legal designation is a civil servant as has been proved with the reduction of civil servants required by the SDR, some of whom were from the RFA.

Excerpt from Wiki :- The RFA counts a forward repair ship and landing vessels amongst its assets. RFA personnel are members of the Ministry of Defence civil service who wear Merchant Navy-style rank insignia with naval uniforms and are under naval discipline when the vessel is engaged on warlike operations. RFA vessels are commanded and crewed by these civilians, augmented with regular and reserve Royal Navy personnel to perform specialised military functions such as operating and maintaining helicopters or providing hospital facilities. The RFA is funded out of the UK defence budget and the Commodore commanding the RFA is directly responsible to the Royal Navy Commander-in-Chief .(A)



LouisB

chadburn
26th October 2011, 17:08
My comment's were not in regard's to the 'Union's' objecting to the role the Civilian Member's on board the RFA vessel's which they support, although, as I previously indicated the Union's activities would be suspended if the RFA vessel's came under the Naval Discipline Act but more to do with their apparent lack of support and urging for the "Security Measure's" (which must be an even cheaper option) proposed by Germany and now Italy (but no word from HMG) when it comes to the rest of the vessel's and their Crew's that fly the Red Ensign and are routed through the danger area's.

LouisB
27th October 2011, 02:24
My comment's were not in regard's to the 'Union's' objecting to the role the Civilian Member's on board the RFA vessel's which they support, although, as I previously indicated the Union's activities would be suspended if the RFA vessel's came under the Naval Discipline Act but more to do with their apparent lack of support and urging for the "Security Measure's" (which must be an even cheaper option) proposed by Germany and now Italy (but no word from HMG) when it comes to the rest of the vessel's and their Crew's that fly the Red Ensign and are routed through the danger area's.

@ Chadburn.

I suppose it may be that HMG thinks that firearms on privately owned commercial merchant vessels could possibly cause problems with the authorities in foreign ports and are not generally a good idea.

RFA vessels being owned by the UK Government are granted diplomatic clearance prior to entering territorial waters of foreign powers. HMG also has absolute control over government ships, with strict rules of the vessels management and actions rigidly applied by handpicked senior officers.

Here endeth the lesson. (Scribe)

The End

LouisB

borderreiver
27th October 2011, 09:12
@ Chadburn.

I suppose it may be that HMG thinks that firearms on privately owned commercial merchant vessels could possibly cause problems with the authorities in foreign ports and are not generally a good idea.

RFA vessels being owned by the UK Government are granted diplomatic clearance prior to entering territorial waters of foreign powers. HMG also has absolute control over government ships, with strict rules of the vessels management and actions rigidly applied by handpicked senior officers.

Here endeth the lesson. (Scribe)


The End

LouisB



Which is why RFA Ships work so well.

LouisB
27th October 2011, 12:42
Which is why RFA Ships work so well.

Exactly, Borderreiver. (Applause) It's the only way of making the present system workable and more importantly reliable. Rules are there for very very good reasons which indirectly benefits the UK and her allies.


LouisB

RetiredPMSO
27th October 2011, 20:01
"RFA personnel are members of the Ministry of Defence civil service"

It was always my belief , including during my time in the RFA. that RFA staff (excluding the stores staff) were not civil servant. Whilst they worked for the MOD and enjoyed some civil service conditions such as pension and travel subsistence rates they were not established civil servants. But they are MN staff working for the MOD.

Has this changed?

hillshepherd
28th October 2011, 15:23
"RFA personnel are members of the Ministry of Defence civil service"

It was always my belief , including during my time in the RFA. that RFA staff (excluding the stores staff) were not civil servant. Whilst they worked for the MOD and enjoyed some civil service conditions such as pension and travel subsistence rates they were not established civil servants. But they are MN staff working for the MOD.

Has this changed?

The RFA became part of the Royal Navy when Full Command was transferred from MOD to Commander in Chief Fleet in 1994. Command was then exercised through the Commodore RFA, who became a Type Commander, taking his place alongside the others: Submarines, Royal Marines, Fleet Air Arm, Mine Warfare etc. RFA personnel are Registered Seafarers (i.e. Merchant Navy) for the purpose of documentation and certification, and are included in MN strength. The Commodore RFA is one of the leaders of the shipping industry, and that is one reason why he leads the Merchant Navy in Remembrance every November at the National MN Memorial, Tower Hill. Within defence RFA personnel are counted as MOD civilians, and form part of the numbers given when such matters are referred to in Parliament, and elsewhere. For pension purposes RFA personnel are civil servants, for the purpose of hostilities they are reservists. On leaving the Service after minimum qualifying time RFA personnel become Armed Forces Veterans, and are entitled to apply for and wear the AF Veterans' badge - that is the normal one, not the red ensign version issued to MN personnel after hostilities. Pragmatic, flexible and effective - and I hope that clears the matter up.

RetiredPMSO
28th October 2011, 20:21
The RFA became part of the Royal Navy when Full Command was transferred from MOD to Commander in Chief Fleet in 1994. Command was then exercised through the Commodore RFA, who became a Type Commander, taking his place alongside the others: Submarines, Royal Marines, Fleet Air Arm, Mine Warfare etc. RFA personnel are Registered Seafarers (i.e. Merchant Navy) for the purpose of documentation and certification, and are included in MN strength. The Commodore RFA is one of the leaders of the shipping industry, and that is one reason why he leads the Merchant Navy in Remembrance every November at the National MN Memorial, Tower Hill. Within defence RFA personnel are counted as MOD civilians, and form part of the numbers given when such matters are referred to in Parliament, and elsewhere. For pension purposes RFA personnel are civil servants, for the purpose of hostilities they are reservists. On leaving the Service after minimum qualifying time RFA personnel become Armed Forces Veterans, and are entitled to apply for and wear the AF Veterans' badge - that is the normal one, not the red ensign version issued to MN personnel after hostilities. Pragmatic, flexible and effective - and I hope that clears the matter up.


Actually it doesn't. Whilst all that you say is true that does not make them Civil Servants. There are a number of maritime specialist grades within the civil service (Marine Services Officers and SALMO's) who are what are termed retained grades. Such grades have limited ability to advance further with in the civil service due to their unique specialism and conditions but RFA staff are not considerred a retained grade. Thus they are not civil servants. The fact that they enjoy civil service pensions does not make them civil servants, they are just enjoying their employers pensions terms.

LouisB
28th October 2011, 21:23
Actually it doesn't. Whilst all that you say is true that does not make them Civil Servants. There are a number of maritime specialist grades within the civil service (Marine Services Officers and SALMO's) who are what are termed retained grades. Such grades have limited ability to advance further with in the civil service due to their unique specialism and conditions but RFA staff are not considerred a retained grade. Thus they are not civil servants. The fact that they enjoy civil service pensions does not make them civil servants, they are just enjoying their employers pensions terms.

In actuality :-http://www.civilservant.org.uk/definitions.shtml

Which defines all of the Armed Forces as Public Servants. It then mentions Public Servants who are regarded as Civil Servants.

There are differentials re employees belonging to a department directly responsible to a Minister of the Crown. M.O.D. ??

So then R.F.A. 'A Public Servant employed by the Min of Defence', exactly, it appears, the same title as an Admiral Of The Fleet when giving a job description.

It rather strikes me that the expression 'enjoying a CS pension' somehow makes me feel like an interloper who through the goodness of somebodies heart has decided to pay me a few bob although I don't really deserve it as I wasn't in the club.


LouisB.

hillshepherd
29th October 2011, 08:07
Actually it doesn't. Whilst all that you say is true that does not make them Civil Servants. There are a number of maritime specialist grades within the civil service (Marine Services Officers and SALMO's) who are what are termed retained grades. Such grades have limited ability to advance further with in the civil service due to their unique specialism and conditions but RFA staff are not considerred a retained grade. Thus they are not civil servants. The fact that they enjoy civil service pensions does not make them civil servants, they are just enjoying their employers pensions terms.

This thread was started to note the success of RFA FORT VICTORIA in the anti-piracy field, part of the continuing story of the competence and value of the Service. The RFA goes quietly on in spite of all the worries and upset over redundancies and ship withdrawals, so it is a pity that the thread has been taken over by semantics. I set out the true position in my previous post but you seem more concerned to prove that RFA personnel are not civil servants in the model that you perceive, and one must wonder why this is so important to you. I have just spotted the latest brochure on the RFA and I think you will see that that coincides with what I said earlier - see http://www.royalnavy.mod.uk/About-the-Royal-Navy/~/media/Files/Navy-PDFs/About-the-Royal-Navy/Royal%20Fleet%20Auxilliary%20Information%20Leaflet .pdf I suggest, if possible, we return this thread to its original theme. So a big well done (BZ) to FORT VICTORIA - see http://icstafford.icnetwork.co.uk/news/localnews/tm_headline=a-show-of-gratitude-to-shaun-for-pirate-rescue%26method=full%26objectid=29665598%26siteid= 87875-name_page.html

RetiredPMSO
29th October 2011, 18:37
First I have no wish to detract from RFA Victoria's efforts and let me say I look back on my time in the RFA including the withdraw from ADEN and Beira patrol with some pride at what we achieved and did.

But is wasn't me who first raised the issue of RFA being civil service and I was just trying to get the facts right.