Keeping a fighting fleet at sea and well supplied has always been a logistics nightmare. The Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) is the British solution to this ages-old challenge. The RFA was formalised on 3 Aug 1905, from a wide collection of Admiralty ships which had been supporting the front line fleet since the 16th century. It celebrated its centenary on 3 Aug 2005.
The RFA provides replenishment, forward repair and training facilites in support of the
Royal Navy, other British armed services and NATO. This includes provision of all stores, fuel and ammunition to allow the Fleet to fight and remain at sea as long as needed without having to put into port, extending its operational range and effectiveness. The RFA specialises in Replenishment-at-Sea (RAS), while underway and in extreme cases whilst manoeuvring. Awkward loads can also been transferred by helicopter in a technique known as Vertical Replenishment.
Most RFA ships have a flight deck and some have hangarage and specialised lifts, either to bring helicopters up from below or to bring loads up to helicopters, or both.
For the first time in its history, The Queens Colour was presented to the RFA on 18 Jul 2008, by its Commodore-in-Chief, The Earl of Wessex on board
RFA Largs Bay while alongside in
RFA crews remain Merchant Seamen, albeit with special terms of service and its vessels are classed as Government ships on non-commercial business, proudly flying the RFA Blue Ensign.
RFA - Ready For Anything.