The civilian force behind the Royal Navy
Imagine a beautiful machine. Effective. Powerful. Impressive.
A Royal Navy warship is such a machine. It takes skilled manpower and effective teamwork to keep it potent. This is where we, the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, come in. We keep it fuelled, armed and sailing across the world’s oceans.
Looking after a whole fleet of these formidable machines takes a specialist civilian force of over 2,000. We're trained to Merchant Navy standards – but also have the critical skills to assist military ops and humanitarian crises alike.
Behind the scenes. At the heart of the action. Keeping the Royal Navy effective.
The moment technology transformed our warships, this is when we, the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, came into existence. Supporting the Royal Navy and the Royal Marines on missions around the world, we have been key to their effectiveness all around the world.
The RFA is born. Royal Navy warships are no longer powered by sails – so the RFA is created to deliver coal and vital supplies to these new warships.
Playing a key role during World War II, we’re the lifeline for the British fleet, which has to stay at sea for much longer periods. We also develop and hone our trademark Replenishment at Sea (RAS) techniques.
Helping the Far East Fleet carry out sustained operations off the coast of Korea and in Pacific waters.
Supporting the Royal Navy in the Falklands War where we lost one of our ships and another was badly damaged.
Presented with a Queen’s Colour, an honour unique to a civilian organisation, for our contribution in operations (including the Gulf War, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq).
We might be civilians – but we don’t live an ordinary, civilian life. We’re a professional fleet whose sole purpose is to keep the Royal Navy potent and effective. Supplying them with everything from fuel and food, to missiles. Our secret? Careful planning, rigorous teamwork and a fleet of highly specialised, replenishment ships.
Being so skilled at overcoming conditions that most civilian fleets would shy away from has other benefits too. We’re often called on in times of humanitarian crisis to deliver life-saving aid to stricken areas.