The ship in charge of keeping the Royal Navy’s powerful aircraft carrier task groups fuelled and ready for action is returning to full operations after an extensive refit.

RFA Fort Victoria spent seven months of 2021 deployed with Carrier Strike Group 21 during its mission to the Indo-Pacific and back, keeping warships, aircraft and sailors fuelled and fed across a combined 500,000 nautical miles. 

While warships and F-35 Lightning jets stole most of the limelight, Fort Victoria was one of two – with RFA Tidespring – unsung but crucial components of the global deployment providing most of the group’s needs – fuel, food, ammunition, spare parts, replacement engines and the like. 

Much of this year has seen Fort Vic at Liverpool’s Cammell Laird shipyard for extensive repairs and upgrades, especially on her engines, to ready her for the front line once again ahead of a jam-packed 2023.

Captain Martin Jones, Commanding Officer of Fort Victoria, said: “It’s pleasing to get Fort Victoria back to sea after a lengthy period in the shipyard and allow her to stretch her legs. 

“We are very much looking forward to returning to the fold of Carrier Strike and supporting Carrier Strike Group 23.”

The vast ship has now reached Scotland, sailing under the Forth Bridge and will soon be putting her upgrades to the test.

Fort Vic’s sailors are building her up to trials – which will stress test her new bits – with the training teams at Fleet Operational Sea Training who, to very exacting standards, bring ships and their crew up to scratch ahead of deployments anywhere in the world. 

The ship will then progress to Operational Sea Training in which she will be put through numerous scenarios to ensure she is ready for action.

That all leads up to her returning to the heart of the Carrier Strike Group in 2023, keeping it resupplied and ready for action wherever they might sail.