The Royal Navy’s replenishment vessel Gold Rover hit the high seas again at the end of February after completing an extended maintenance period in Simon’s Town for major rectification work.
The RFA ship headed north to the Ascension Islands to pick up a detachment of 14 Royal Marines to take part in a coastal exercise with West African navies called “Obangame Express”. Obangame means “togetherness”. Over 70 vessels and aircraft from 32 Nations were participating in the exercise.
The ship headed east towards the West African coast. During the passage the ship undertook internal training to exercise our defence organisation and emergency actions to fires and structural damage, the Royal Navy said.
During the exercise, Gold Rover acted as an illegal fishing boat and as a tanker that had been taking over by pirates.
There was a requirement to replenish fuel to the French ship FS Commandant Blaison whilst both ships were underway at sea. This meeting provided an opportunity to exchange two officers (crosspol) to view the RAS (replenishment at sea) from different perspectives and also to have a look around the respective ships.
Gold Rover then visited Sekondi in Ghana for the Easter period for a little bit of rest and recreation.
The ship then headed around the West African coast to Sierra Leone and anchored off the capital Freetown for a 3 day visit. As part of OUTREACH the ship offered to assist with minor repairs at the Milton Margai School for the blind.
After the visit to Sierra Leone it was back to the Ascension Islands to disembark the Royal Marines detachment.
RFA Gold Rover and her sister RFA Black Rover were built to replenish Royal Navy ships with fuel, oil, aviation fuel, lubricants, fresh water and a limited amount of dry cargo and refrigerated stores. RFA Gold Rover is one of the original five Admiralty-designed and commissioned ships.
She accompanied the destroyer HMS Dragon as part of her Atlantic south patrol tasking. RFA Gold Rover and her sister ship Black Rover are the only survivors of five in their class, with the others having been phased out in favour of double hulled vessels.