Information published in the 1980 Program for Chatham Navy Days
The Rover Class of Fleet Tankers are the latest class of fleet tankers to join the Royal Fleet Auxiliary and have become an important part of the Royal Navy's `lifeline' at sea.
All five vessels of the class, GREEN ROVER, GREY ROVER, BLUE ROVER, BLACK ROVER, and GOLD ROVER were launched at Hebburn-on-Tyne by Messrs. Swan Hunter Shipbuilders Ltd. and commissioned during 1969-74. They were specially designed to meet the requirements of the Ministry of Defence (Navy) and are capable of supplying Furnace Oil, Diesel Oil, Aviation Fuels, Lubricating Oils and Fresh Water, limited Dry Cargo and refrigerated stores to ships of the Royal
Navy, at sea, wherever they may be operating.
The vessels are fitted with two large derrick rigs, one on each side carrying four hoses each, with all associated valves operated hydraulically from a centralised remote-control room. They are also able to transfer fuels over the stern and to receive fuel from other Royal Fleet Auxiliaries either abeam or over the bow. The exacting conditions in which they may be required to operate have necessitated a good deal more equipment and safety measures than would normally be introduced into commercial tankers.
These tankers, each with a length of 461 feet and 63 feet beam have a gross registered tonnage of approximately 7,500 tons. The main machinery comprises two Pielstick PC2V Mk2 diesel engines manufactured by Crossley Premier Engines Ltd. The ships can maintain a service speed in excess of 18 knots. All manoeuvring is under direct control from the bridge via pneumatic and electric systems.
The helicopter deck is a distinctive feature of these ships. It extends aft from the boat deck and has a non-skid surface and is reinforced to enable the most modern helicopters to land, be refuelled and take off during day or night.
These helicopters can be used in a training role or used to collect solid stores and oil in drums for transfer to their parent ship or for delivery of mail, personnel, etc. Stores are delivered to the flight deck by means of a two-ton lift giving access directly to the stores hold.
These vessels are fitted with a sophisticated communication system (including automatic teletype) which, as well as conforming to the Merchant Ship (Radio) Rules enables them to communicate with HMS Ships, aircraft and bases at home and abroad. As part of the navigational aids, 16-inch true motion radar is fitted in the wheelhouse and 12-inch radar in the chartroom; also provided are the most modern aids to navigation including Omega, Decca and the most modern depth recording equipment.
The Rover Class tankers are capable of operating in close support of fleet units and have a complement of 16 Officers and 34 ratings to operate the ship, for replenishment at sea duties and control of helicopters.
Individual cabins are provided, and a comprehensively equipped galley supplies the cafeteria style dining room for the crew and the Officer's Dining Saloon. Space has been utilised for recreational purposes including lounges and bars, a hobbies room, a dark room and photographic drying room, small swimming pool and facilities for reception of radio and television programmes. Feature films are shown about twice a week including some of the latest cinema productions. The ships are air conditioned for service in tropical or Arctic conditions.
In the past year RFA GREY ROVER has seen service as support tanker in the Clyde Submarine Areas, as support tanker and trials platform around the Azores, and as Fleet Support Tanker during the recent Royal Naval involvement in the Eastern Mediterranean. She has visited several different ports including Souda in Crete; Port Augusta, Sicily; Gibraltar, Naples, Maderia, and Lisbon. She has been involved in exercises with units of the American Sixth Fleet, Greek Navy and the Federal German Navy. In 1977 she escorted the Royal Yacht "Britannia" during the Queen's Silver Jubilee Tour of the Commonwealth.
Photographed at Chatham on 25 May 1980