RFA Black Rover

RFA Black Rover

RFA Black Rover is one of two Small Fleet Tankers owned and operated by the MOD - her sister ship is RFA Gold Rover.

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Built by Swan Hunters and launched in 1973, Black Rover has served all over the world in support of UK and Allied Maritime Forces. Her primary role is to replenish other Naval units at sea with diesel and aviation fuel.

This is achieved using a technique called RAS - Replenishment at Sea.

This involves the receiving ship transiting on a parallel course to Black Rover at a speed of around 12 knots, separated by around 30 metres of sea between the hulls of the two ships.

Fuel is then pumped from Black Rover’s cargo fuel tanks via a complex array of rigs and hoses which are connected to the receiving ship. This critical element ensures that Naval ships can remain operational at sea, stopping the need to go off-task to obtain fuel alongside.

In addition to this Black Rover also carries out regular military maritime patrols around British Overseas Territories and is capable of conducting disaster relief operations.

Black Rover is equipped with a single spot flight deck for the launch and recovery of rotary wing aircraft and a self defence weapons fit.


On Deployment

This unit is currently on deployment find out how that might affect you.

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Veteran RFA Black Rover tanker completes 17-month mission


RFA Black Rover Latest News

Black gold from Black Rover keeps Iron Duke topped up on Atlantic deployment


The freezing Falkland Islands mid-winter dip. Brrrrr!

See all news for RFA Black Rover

Current operation Atlantic Patrol Tasking

Ships and units on Atlantic Patrol Tasking provide ongoing protection and reassurance to British regional interests and maintaining the continuous Royal Naval presence in the Atlantic.

  • Atlantic Patrol Tasking

    Ships and units on Atlantic Patrol Tasking provide ongoing protection and reassurance to British interests in the Atlantic, maintaining the continuous Royal Naval presence in the Atlantic.

Providing security at sea

The UK has a responsibility to its citizens and its allies to endeavour to safeguard the high seas. This is why the Royal Navy protects home and international waters – making sure the global trade that Britain and the world depend on can proceed without a hitch.

International partnerships

As the fifth largest economy in the world, the UK has responsibilities towards its allies and partners. But Britain also has global ambitions – namely to protect the seaways underpinning the country’s prosperity. The Royal Navy plays a crucial role in fostering these enduring and lasting alliances with other nations.

Location South Atlantic

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Unit History

Ship Launched1973

RFA Black Rover was launched on 30 October, 1973 at the Swan Hunter Ship Yard, Wallsend, by the ships lady sponsor, Lady Trewby.

Accepted into the Royal Fleet Auxiliary1974

RFA Black Rover was accepted into Royal Fleet Auxiliary service on 23 August 1974 at a cost of £7million. Her unique ship's crest depicts a Black Sea Stallion rearing up from the sea.

First Suez Transit and Gibraltar Service1976

RFA Black Rover undertook her first Suez transit in October 1976. For the remainder of the decade she served extensively around Gibraltar, eastern seaboard of the US and Caribbean.

Eastern Deployment1979

Voyaged east, visiting Diego Garcia, Australia and New Zealand along the way before returning to West Indian Guard Ship (WIGS) duties in the Caribbean.

First Falklands Deployment1988

Completed her first Falkland Islands / South Atlantic patrol, before returning back to the UK for the now familiar FOST tanker duties, where she remained largely UK coastal until 1997.

Ship History1997

Was once again deployed to the Caribbean region, remaining on station for almost 2 years.

Ship History2000

Completed a year long visit to the the Caribbean.

Africa and Island Patrols2001

Arrived in the Falkland Islands in June; after four months of island patrols, the ship set a northerly course for home, with port visits to Rio De Janeiro and Sierra Leone prior to arrival in the UK.

North Atlantic and Caribbean2002

Departing in November, Black Rover steamed across the North Atlantic heading for the eastern seaboard of the USA, Mexico, El Salvador and Chile prior to her first Panama Canal transit. 

Maintenance and Recent Deployment2004

Maintenance period in Liverpool, before carried out a six month deployment east of Suez in support of HMS York, visiting Gibraltar, Cyprus, India, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Brunei, Hong Kong and Malaysia.

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RFA Black Rover is one of two Small Fleet Tankers