Reproduced with permission of the MOD


RFA Fort Austin



Subsequent name:

Official Number:                                  378796

Class:                                                   FORT CLASS

Pennant No:                                         A386

Laid down:                                            9 December 1975
Builder:                                                 Scotts Shipbuilding, Greenock

Launched:                                             9 March 1978
Into Service:                                          22 June 1979

Crew number:                                        90
Out of service:


Items of historic interest involving this ship: -


Background Data:  An order for two new Fleet Replenishment Ships was announced in November 1971 and the ships in this Class provided up to-date replenishment facilities for both ammunition and general naval and victual ling stores. Both were fitted with extensive aviation facilities with a single spot flight deck and full hangar facilities. The roof of the hangar was also strengthened for use as an emergency landing spot which enabled them to operate up to four Sea King helicopters


9 December 1975 laid down as AEFS 04

9 March 1978 launched by Scotts Shipbuilding Co Ltd, Cartsdyke Yard, Greenock as Yard Nr: 738 named FORT AUSTIN.The Lady Sponsor was Mrs D.R.J. Stephens, wife of the Deputy Under Secretary of State for the Army. Named after one of Palmerston's Follies, a fort in the Plymouth area

11 May 1979 completed

18 June 1979 at Greenock (see note 1)

22 June 1979 entered operational service after acceptance from her builders

12 July 1979 arrived Plymouth for the first time

7 October 1979 her Ship’s Badge was officially presented to her

3 October 1079 on the River Tyne

13 December 1979 on the River Tyne

1980 along with RFA’s OLNA (3) and OLMEDA she was deployed to the Gulf during  the Iran-Iraq conflict

14 August 1980 at Charleston (see note 1)

10 November 1980 at Plymouth

20 January 1981 Sea King HAS1 helicopter no: XV665 – flight from the ship during anti-submarine exercises with HMS APOLLO in Arabian Gulf – tail rotor control problems ditched alongside and rolled inverted, one n.mile from the ship in Straits of Hormuz. The crew were rescued, and the helicopter secured by APOLLO and towed by sea boat to the ship then hoisted aboard

9 April 1981 at Haifa

24 April 1981 at Plymouth

26 June 1981 while berthed at Portland vessel visited by H.M. Queen Elizabeth and HRH the Duke of Edinburgh who honoured the Commodore with their presence at luncheon


menu cover

25 September 1981 at Plymouth

October 1981 deployed together with HMS's GLAMORGAN, HMS AMBUSCADE and RFA PEARLEAF (2)  on the Armilla Patrol

26 March 1982 received orders to divert to Gibraltar to load stores for HMS ENDURANCE

29 March 1982 returning to the UK from Armilla Patrol duties, she arrived at Gibraltar and then sailed to the South Atlantic with stores for HMS ENDURANCE and service during Operation Corporate - the Falklands Conflict. Was the first surface ship ordered south

6 April 1982 was the first Task Force ship to arrive at Ascension Island and loaded stores which had been delivered to the Island by C130 transport aircraft

8 April 1982 Wessex HU5 heicopter No: XT765 – to the ship

9 April 1982 sailed Ascension Island with 3 x Lynx and 2 x Wessex helicopters, 120 men of combined SAS/SBS force and an RN Surgical Team embarked to meet the Ice Patrol Ship HMS ENDURANCE

HMS Endurance


12 April 1982 replenished HMS ENDURANCE then headed back north to meet the South Georgia Task Group

13 April 1982 rendezvoused with RFA TIDESPRING for a fuel transfer and to transfer food,ammunition and the SAS/SBS teams to the destroyer HMS ANTRIM and the frigate HMS PLYMOUTH and to transfer a full RN Surgical Support Team to RFA TIDESPRING in preparation for the retaking of South Georgia

16 April 1982 rendezvoused with TG 317.8/11 consisting of the destroyers HMS’s COVENTRY, GLAMORGAN, GLASGOW and SHEFFIELD and the frigates HMS’s ARROW and  BRILLIANT which  was also joined by RFA APPLELEAF(3). RASed with HMS BRILLIANT

21 April 1982 arrived back at Ascension Island to restore

23 April 1982 sailed Ascension Island to rejoin the Carrier Battle Group

26 April 1982 entered the TEZ (Total Exclusion Zone) around the Falkland Islands

3 May 1982 rejoined the Carrier Battle Group

4 May 1982 embarked 170 survivors and the Lynx helicopter from the stricken destroyer HMS SHEFFIELD after the Exocet attack on her

9 May 1982 RASed with HMS HERMES

16 May 1982 recovered a number of Special Forces and their equipment which had been parachuted into the South Atlantic from a Hercules transport aircraft

17 May 1982 RASed with RFA RESOURCE

21 May 1982 entered Falkland Sound along with the HMS FEARLESS Group and claimed a kill on an Argentinean aircraft in San Carlos Water

24 May 1982 near-missed by Argentinean bombs in San Carlos Water along with RFA’s  RESOURCE and STROMNESS

25 May 1982 embarked survivors from the destroyer HMS COVENTRY and sailed San Carlos Water

2 June 1982 RASed with HMS INVINCIBLE

3 June 1982 was relieved by and RASed with RFA FORT GRANGE and RASed with HMS BRILLIANT, HMS GLASGOW, RFA RESOURCE and HMS INVINCIBLE

5 June 1982 began transferring stores to RFA FORT GRANGE

6 June 1982 sailed for South Georgia then back to the U.K

8 June 1982 arrived South Georgia

11 June 1982 sailed South Georgia for home

16 June 1982 RASed with RFA PLUMLEAF at 22 05S 18.56W receiving 704 tons of bunker fuel and arrived Ascension Island two days after the Argentinian surrender and was one of the first ships to return home after Operation Corporate

28 June 1982 arrived back in Devonport on completion of Operation Corporate duties

27 September 1982 Wessex HU5 heicopter No: XT760 – to 848 NAS C Flight on the ship

11 January 1983 at Plymouth

12 April 1983 at Glen Mallen

27 April 1983 at Portland

11 October 1983 at Port San Carlos, Falkland Islands

31 October 1083 at Port William, Falkland Islands

9 December 1983 at Plymouth

14 February 1984 at Portland

July 1984 Westland Wasp HAS1 helicopter No: XS795 – was airlifted to the ship by 826 NAS Sea King helicopter No: XZ571 for transit to the Falkland Is

13 December 1984 at Plymouth

28 January 1985 at Newcastle on the River Tyne

24 May 1985 was presented with her Falkland Islands 1982 Battle Honour at Plymouth by Mr K Pritchard CB, DGST (N)

19 February 1987 at Wallsend on Tyne

15 July 1987 at Portland

24 September 1987 at Plymouth

5 February 1988 at Plymouth

28 March 1988 at Glen Douglas

31 March 1988 Captain Shane Redmond OBE RFA appointed as Master

7 November 1988 berthed at North Shields, River Tyne

27 December 1988 at Plymouth

16 March 1989 berthed at Glen Mallen

16 July 1989 at Plymouth

4 August 1989 arrived at HMS MALABAR, Bermuda

5 August 1989 sailed Bermuda to ride out the impending arrival of Hurricane Dean in safer waters

7 August 1989  humanitarian aid - berthed alongside at HMS MALABAR, Bermuda and provided assistance in the aftermath of Hurricane Dean

11 August 1989 sailed Bermuda for the UK

19 August 1989 Captain Rex A Cooper RFA appointed as Commanding Officer

26 October 1989 at Plymouth

6 January 1990 at Plymouth

24 June 1990 Captain Shane Redmond OBE RFA appointed as Commanding Officer

12 February 1991 at Plymouth. Captain Peter J Lannin RFA appointed as Commanding Officer

Captain Lannin

Captain Peter J Lannin RFA

8  March 1991 at Plymouth

28 April 1991 at Portland

20 July 1991 at Dubai

24 July 1991 at Jebel Ali

1 November 1991 at Crombie, River Forth

6 December 1991 at Portland

30 December 1991 at Glen Mallen

18 February 1992 at DM Crombie, River Forth

8 May 1992 at Plymouth

8 December 1992 at Plymouth

4 January 1993 Captain Shane Redmond OBE RFA appointed as Commanding Officer

Captain Shane Redmond OBE crop

Captain Shane Redmond OBE RFA

19 January 1993 at DM Crombie, River Forth

18 August 1993 Captain Peter J Lannin RFA appointed as Commanding Officer

17 Movember 1993 at Plymouth

26 April 1994 at Bari

5 August 1995 at Trieste

16 November 1995 at Barcelona, Spain

9 April 1996 Captain Brian J Waters OBE RFA appointed as Commanding Officer

Captain Brian Waters

Captain Brian J Waters OBE RFA

2 December 1996 Captain Anthony F Pitt DSC RFA appointed as Commanding Officer



Captain Anthony F Pitt DSC RFA


January 1997 sailed part of Task Group 327.01 - the Ocean Wave 97 Deployment to the Far East led by the carrier HMS ILLUSTRIOUS - along with RFA’s DILIGENCE,  FORT GEORGE, OLNA (3), SIR GALAHAD(2), SIR GERAINT and SIR PERCIVALE

27 August 1997 Humanitarian aid - along with the carrier HMS ILLUSTRIOUS she stood by the French tanker ONCE which had an engine room fire in the Bay of  Biscay

30 December 1997 Captain Peter Farmer RFA appointed as Commanding Officer

Captain Peter Farner

Captain Peter Farmer RFA

9 April 1998 Captain Peter J Lannin RFA appointed as Commanding Officer

31 August 1998 at Crombie, River Forth

19 October 1998 at Plymouth and Captain Alan T Roach RFA appointed as Commanding Officer

Capt allan roach

Captain Alan T Roach RFA

9 January 1999 sailed UK with the carrier HMS INVINCIBLE and the destroyer HMS NEWCASTLE for the Gulf Region

30 January 1999 to 1 April 1999 along with RFA BRAMBLELEAF (3) she was in Operation Magellanin the  Persian Gulf - an RN/RFA Group deployed as a precautionary measure to counter continuing Iraqi intransigence over compliance with UN Security Council Resolutions

24 February 1999 at Bahrain

18 June 1999 at Vigo, Spain and Captain Pat Thompson OBE RFA appointed as Commanding Officer

13 September 1999 deployed in support of the Amphibious Task Group - part of Argonaut 99

11 December 1999 arrived at DM Crombie on return from the above deployment

12 November 2000 part of the Amphibious Ready Group led by the assault ship HMS OCEAN which arrived off the coast of Sierra Leone for Operation Silkman- a high visibility demonstration of the U.K. commitment to Sierra Leone - along with RFA’s ARGUS, SIR BEDIVERE and SIR TRISTRAM

5 August 2001 berthed at Glen Mallen Jetty, Loch Long

September 2001 deployed on the Argonaut 2001 task force together with HMS ILLUSTRIOUS, fourteen other Royal Naval Warships and RFA's FORT VICTORIA, BAYLEAF (3), SIR TRISTRAM, SIR BEDIVERE, SIR PERCIVALE, SIR GALAHAD (2), FORT ROSALIE (2), OAKLEAF (2) and DILIGENCE

2 September 2001 humanitarian aid - utilising a Sea King helicopter from the embarked 845 NAS she rescued 20 Moroccans in a powerless Zodiac inflatable boat which had been adrift for the previous two days in the Mediterranean about 100 miles east of Gibraltar .They were winched onto the helicopter and were flown back to the ship

3 September 2001 arrived at Cartagena, Spain and those rescued were handed over to the Spanish authorities. Berthed at Cartagena with RFA's SIR GALAHAD (2) and SIR TRISTRAM

21 November 2001 to 27 November 2001 berthed at Gibraltar 

8 January 2002 at Portsmouth and Captain Pat Thompson OBE RFA appointed as Commanding Officer

27 February 2002 berthed at Glen Mallen

4 March 2002 berthed at Gibraltar

20 May 2002 to 23 May 2002 berthed at Barcelona, Spain

31 May 2002 berthed at Dubai

15 January 2003 sailed from the UK for Operation Telic - the 2nd Gulf War

24 January 2003 to 29 May 2003 deployed on Operation Telic- the 2nd Gulf War - along with 13 other RFA’s and had 4  x  Sea King helicopters from 820 NAS embarked

19 February 2003 at Kuwait

19 July 2003 at Kuwait

29 May 2003 anchored off Greenock on completion of Operation Telicduties

27 January 2004 in dry dock at Hebburn on Tyne

20 July 2004 at Devonport

31 July 2004 berthed at Gibraltar with RFA SIR TRISTRAM to be present with HMS GRAFTON to celebrate the seizure of Gibraltar 300 years previously.

18 August 2004 at Devonport

28 January 2005 berthed at Glen Mallan

24 February 2005 while berthed at Glen Mallan, Scotland an Argentine sub-machine gun captured during the Falklands War and held as a souvenir on board was found to be missing from the ship. A MOD Police investigation was conducted

18 March 2005 berthed at Glen Mallan

11 April 2005 to 18 April 2005 with FOST

25 April 2005 berthed at Glen Mallan

4 May 2005 sailed from Glen Mallan

4 June 2005 at Douglas, Isle of Man for R & R

28 June 2005 took part in the International Fleet Review for Trafalgar 200 at Spithead along with eight other RFA’s

20 July 2005 arrived at Glen Mallan

30 August 2005 sailed Glen Mallan to anchor at Tail of Bank

2 September 2005 sailed from Tail of Bank to Glen Mallan

6 September 2005 sailed Glen Mallan

24 October 2005 sailed Glen Mallan

10 January 2006 alongside at Lisbon, Portugal

2006 part of Operation Vela - amphibious operations off the coast of West Africa led by the assault ship HMS OCEAN along with RFA’s DILIGENCE, MOUNTS BAY, OAKLEAF (2), SIR BEDIVERE and WAVE KNIGHT(2)

29 September 2006 Captain Anthony McNally RFA appointed as Commanding Officer until 16 November 2006

7 November 2006 with HMS ARGYLL and embarked 849 NAS together and in company of Spanish customs officers seized 1.33 tonnes of cocaine worth an estimated £53 million on the 950 - ton offshore supply vessel MV Orca II 360 miles off the Cape Verde Islands

18 November 2006 arrived at Falmouth Bay sailing later the same day for the Gareloch, River Clyde

5 February 2007 sailed Portland

6 February 2007 arrived Falmouth

9 February 2007 transitted the Straits of Gibraltar east bound

17 February 2007 transitted the Suez Canal with HMS CORNWALL

2007 in company with the frigate HMS CORNWALL, she met up with the legendary sailing yacht GYPSY MOTH IV off the coast of East Africa

4 March 2007 berthed at Salalah, Oman

24 April 2007 operating off Freetown with RFA's WAVE KNIGHT (2), GOLD ROVER and HMS OCEAN

May 2007 engaged in Operation Calash in the Middle East with HMS SUNDERLAND

June 2007 sailing from the Gulf with HMS SUNDERLAND returning to home waters

21 June 2007 arrived at Gibraltar

22 July 2007 arried A & P Appledore, Hebburn for refit - the refit included -

  • Removal of the eight existing diesel generator sets and the installation of four new Wartsila replacements units.
  • Upgrading of machinery space ventilation, main switchboard and service supply installations to accommodate the above.
  • Renewal of four working air and starting air general compressors sets.
  • Renewal of four cargo HVAC compressors sets.
  • Renewal of reverse osmosis fresh water generation plant.
  • Upgrading of the operating mechanisms to three of the six large cargo lifts, and one passenger lift

Fort Austin 2007 refit

RFA Fort Austin while in refit

23 November 2007 completed trials after having been in refit at A&P Appledore, Hebburn on Tyne

21 January 2008 sailed Portsmouth as part of the Orion 08 Deployment to the Middle East led by the carrier HMS ILLUSTRIOUS along with RFA’s BAYLEAF (3) and WAVE KNIGHT (2)

28 January 2008 at Devonport and Captain (E) Robert Settle RFA appointed as Chief Engineer Officer

21 April 2008 to 2 May 2008 with HMS ILLUSTRIOUS, HMS WESTMINSTER, RFA WAVE KNIGHT (2) and the submarine HMS TRAFALGAR, along with FS SURCOUF, USS COLE, INS MYSORE, INS RAJPUT,  INS GOMATI,  INS ADITYA and INS SHISHUMAR involved in Indo-UK exercises, ‘KONKAN 2008’ off the west coast of India

7 June 2008 arrived Falmouth Bay from Portland

9 June 2008 sailed Falmouth Bay

11 June 2008 arrived Falmouth Bay for personnell transfer

3 August 2008 off Greenock

September 2008 with HMS ARGYLL in Home Waters seized 100 kg of cocaine worth £4 million.

13 September 2008 anchored off Douglas Bay

25 - 27 October 2008 made an official visit to Douglas, Isle of Man

17 November 2008 with HMS SOMERSET undertook a 'sea day' off Plymouth for the benefit of the press

4 December 2008 berthed at Glen Mallen

25 December 2008 still berthed at Glen Mallen

18 January 2009 at sea in the Clyde Area

February 2009 sailed on the Taurus 09 deployment lead by HMS BULWALK

3 March 2009 RASed with RFA Wave Ruler (2)

21 March 2009 RASed with RFA Wave Ruler (2)

23 March 2009 berthed at Izmir, Turkey together with RFA MOUNTS BAY and HMS OCEAN

31 May 2009 at Portsmouth Dockyard

14 July 2009 moved to No: 3 Basin, Portsmouth for lay-up

19 October 2010 announcement made by the Defence Secretary that she was to be be brought back into service in place of RFA FORT GEORGE as a result of the Strategic Defence and Security Review

27 May 2011 sailed Portsmouth under tow of the tugs Union Wrestler and Svitzer Pembrokefor Birkenhead and a refit at Cammel Lairds

31 May 2011 arrived under tow at Birkenhead 

5 September 2012 sailed Birkenhead to sea

8 September 2012 anchored off DM Crombie, Fife

21 December 2012 arrived at Plymouth

17 January 2013 sailed from Plymouth

30 January 2013 moored on C Buoy, Plymouth Sound

11 February 2013 sailed DM Crombie down stream under the Forth Road Bridge to sea

17 March 2013 sailed Plymouth Sound

25 March 2013 at sea off Port Ellen, Island of Islay

26 March 2013 at sea between Scotland and Northern Ireland

28 March 2013 in the Firth of Clyde and then into Loch Long. Sailed Loch Long to Loch Striven

18 July 2013 off Portland

19 July 2013 arrived off Plymouth Sound

22 July 2013 stood by a ketch until a RNLI lifeboat arrived on scene and took the yacht in tow. The ketch was suffering various mechanical failures and experiencing trouble in drifting fog. The 30' yacht was enroute from Brixham to Newhaven and got into difficulties 4 miles SE of Straight Point in the approaches to the River Exe. 

25 July 2013 sailed Plymouth Sound

26 July 2013 berthed at Cherbourg, France

29 July 2013 sailed Cherbourg, France

2 August 2013 passed under the Forth Rail Bridge to berth at Crombie Film HERE

F Austin 8-2013

Courtesy and © of Jim Simpson

10 August 2013 sailed from DM Crombie down stream to join the Cougar 13 deployment

3 October 2013 deployed on Operation Kipion in the Persian Gulf until 30 May 2015

29 January 2014 sailed from Dubai

  FAuston GulfofAden2013

RFA Fort Austin in the Gulf of Aden
© Captain Shaun Jones OBE RFA

29 March 2014 Captain Ross G Ferris OBE MVO RFA appointed as Commanding Officer

 Capt Ross Ferris mugshot

29 May 2014 berthed at Port Rashid, Dubai

11 June 2014 sailed Dubai

28 June 2014 Chief Officer (E) Russell M Farquhar RFA appointed acting Captain (E) and as Chief Engineer Officer

30 June 2014 arrived and anchored at Port Victoria, Seychelles

2 July 2014 sailed Port Victoria, Seychelles

20 July 2014 berthed at Dubai, UAE

21 July 2014 Chief Officer (X) Richard J N Horsefield RFA appointed Acting Captain (X) and as Commanding Officer

13 August 2014 Captain (X) Stephen J Norris RFA appointed as Commanding Officer

10 August 2014 sailed Dubai

25 August 2014 arrived at Bahrain

31 August 2014 sailed Bahrain

11 October 2014 sailed Mina Sulman

25 October 2014 Captain (E) Stuart M Peters RFA appointed as Chief Engineer Officer

6 November 2014 sailed Bahrain

5 December 2014 in the Arabian Gulf RASed with USS San Diego (LPD22)

11 December 2014 berthed at Al Mina, Dubai

12 December 2014 Captain Simon K Booth RFA appointed as Commanding Officer

Captain Simon Booth

Captain Simon K Booth RFA

4 January 2015 sailed Dubai

10 January 2015 sailed Bahrain

15 January 2015 berthed at Bahrain

27 January 2015 sailed Bahrain

1 February 2015 arrived at Fujairah

2 February 2015 sailed Fujairah

1 March 2015 berthed at Bahrein

17 April 2015 Captain Stephen J Norris RFA appointed as Commanding Officer

21 April 2015 sailed Bahrein

10 May 2015 Captain (E) Richard M Maddock RFA appointed as Chief Engineer Officer

18 May 2015 sailed from Dubai

9 June 2015 berthed at DM Crombie

29 June 2015 berthed at Liverpool

16 March 2016 arrived at Liverpool

10 March 2017 in Parliament in answer to a question from Ms Flick Drummond, MP for Portsmouth South the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State Ms Harriett Baldwin advised the House that RFA Fort Austin was not currently deployed and was berthed alongside in the Liverpool area. It was currently planned that she will retire from the Service in 2024

1 April 2017 berthed moved at Birkenhead

15 August 2017 while in refit at Birkenhead a fire broke out on board. The crew were evacuated and the fire was extinguished by the local fire brigade




1. Locations kindly provided by Bosun George Collings RFA (Retired) from his Discharge Book







Additional information

Copyright © 2008 – 2018 Christopher J White

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