Fort Rosalie helps Portsmouth Harbour tugs prepare for new carriers

Topic: Fighting armsRoyal Auxiliary Fleet

Portsmouth harbour tugs took the opportunity to put in some practice of towing large vessels ahead of the arrival next year of HMS Queen Elizabeth.

Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship Fort Rosalie, which replenishes warships of the Royal Navy and allied navies with food, stores and ammunition, made a rare visit to the city following her refit at Birkenhead.

At 23,384 tonnes and 185.1 metres in length, the Fleet Solid Support Vessel is nearly 100 metres shorter and nearly three times lighter than the new carrier and her sister HMS Prince of Wales – but still considerably larger than any warship currently based in Portsmouth.

Fort Rosalie was met by Serco tugs Bountiful, Indulgent and Independent just south of the Nab Tower – about ten miles from the entrance to Portsmouth Harbour.

Bountiful, with Chief Admiralty Pilot Nick Randall on board, took the bow position with the other two tugs at the stern.

The tugs carried out a number of training serials on the approach to Round Tower before bringing Fort Rosalie into harbour and mooring her at Victory Jetty, which will be one of the quays used by the carriers when in port.

HMS Queen Elizabeth, at 65,000 tonnes and 280m long is the largest warship ever built for the Royal Navy and is due to arrive in Portsmouth next year.

Fort Rosalie Commanding Officer Captain Gerard Patterson said: “The tugs wanted to practice the techniques required to tow a large ship.

“They got what they wanted and the beauty of it was it was a low-water arrival and it doesn’t get any more difficult than that.”

Serco’s Portsmouth Operations Manager Stuart Laidler said: “The training was carefully overseen and we have had some very positive feedback and feel confident ahead of the arrival of HMS Queen Elizabeth.”

The beauty of it was it was a low-water arrival and it doesn’t get any more difficult than that.

Captain Gerard Patterson