RFA Gold Rover
RFA Gold Rover (A271) is a Small Fleet Tanker of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary.
RFA Gold Rover was ordered in 1971, and completed in March of 1974.
With a maximum speed of 19 knots, these small fleet tankers are fitted with a flight deck but no hanger, as such she is only capable of refuelling embarked helicopters. The Rover boats have been the work horses of the RFA for the last few decades.
Due to being only single hulled the Rover Class ships will be phased out over the next few years.
The reason behind the change to double hulled tankers.
The measures to phase out single hulled tankers was first established in 1992, in December 2003 as amendments to Annex I of the MARPOL Convention, following the November 2002 sinking of the oil tanker Prestige off the Spanish coast.
A revised regulation ( 13G of MARPOL Annex I) brought forward the phase-out schedule for existing single-hull tankers that was first established in 1992 and was subsequently revised in 2001 following the Erika incident. It specified that tankers of single hull construction should be phased out or converted to a "double hull" according to a schedule based on their year of delivery. The double hull requirements for oil tankers are principally designed to reduce the risk of oil spills from tankers involved in low energy collisions or groundings.
The United States brought in even tighter laws after the Exxon Valdez disaster.
The sinking of the Erika.
The sinking of the Erika off the coast of Brittany in North West France in December 1999.
On December 8th 1999 the 37,000 ton tanker, the Erika, left Dunkirk and sailed down the Channel bound for Italy with a cargo of heavy fuel oil.
The Erika was an old vessel reaching the end of her shelf life.
She was a "bargain basement charter" working for half the price of a safe modern tanker.
The Erika never made her final destination with her cargo of HFO.
As the Erika entered the Bay of Biscay, she ran into a heavy storm, which is not unknown at that time of year. All ships are built to withstand such conditions but the Erika encountered difficulties. The storm worsened and by mid afternoon on December 11th 1999, she started to list to starboard by 10-12 degrees.
In mountainous seas the ship's hull was cracking and water was being taken onboard. In the hours that followed Captain Karun Mathur slowly lost control and the vessel began to un-peel like a sardine tin.
'I was just praying to God that we should make it to port and not even believing that we would make it. It was a terrible feeling.'
The next morning the Erika broke in two and started to sink. Thousands of tons of oil leaked from her cargo tanks.
As a huge blanket of oil drifted towards Brittany's coastline and the television news images of the first oil-stricken birds were beamed around the world,
the inquest began into one of the tanker industry's worst disasters.
The sinking of the tanker Prestige.
The Prestige, carrying about 20 million gallons of heavy fuel oil,
was damaged in rough weather off the coast of Spain in mid-November 2002.
Two weeks later, it split in two and sank, coating miles of coastline in oil,
devastating fishing, the wildlife and the local economy.
The Exxon Valdez disaster.
On March 24, 1989, the oil tanker Exxon Valdez departed from the Valdez oil terminal in Valdez, Alaska, heading south through Prince William Sound, with a full load of 52 million gallons of oil.
The Captain (Joseph Hazelwood) radioed to the Coast Guard station that he would be changing course in order to avoid some growlers, or small icebergs, which had drifted into the sound from the Columbia Glacier.
The captain received permission to move into the northbound lane.
Before retiring to his cabin, Captain Hazelwood instructed his third mate, Gregory Cousins, to "start coming back into the lanes" once the ship was abeam Busby Island Light, some two minutes ahead.
Although Cousins did give the instructions to the helmsman to steer the vessel to starboard, the vessel was not turning sharply enough and at 12:03 a.m. on March 24, it struck Bligh Reef.
According to the National Transportation Safety Board report,
"The probable cause of the spill was: the failure of the third mate to properly maneuver the vessel because of fatigue and excessive workload. Other contributing factors were one, the failure of the master to provide a proper navigational watch because of impairment from alcohol, two, the failure of the Exxon Shipping Company to provide sufficient crew for the Exxon Valdez, and three, the lack of an effective Vessel Traffic Service because of inadequate equipment and manning levels."
The spilled oil affected 1,900 km of Alaskan coastline.
RFA Gold Rover ship details.
Length: 140.6 metres
Breadth: 19.2 metres
Draught: 7.3 metres
Displacement: 11,522 tonnes
Speed: 19 knots
Propulsion: Crossley Pielstick engines producing 16,000 bhp through a reduction gearbox to a controllable pitch propellor. Correction by Colin J. Evans.