Royal Navy deploys submarine support vessel “East of Suez”

Note the heavily-laboured message to HM Government’s potential foes “East of Suez.” Vis, there will be Astute class submarines patrolling your neighbourhood for the foreseeable future.

Diligence due east of Suez as support ship begins mammoth mission

Support ship RFA Diligence slipped out of Portsmouth to begin a five to eight-year mission supporting the Royal Navy’s mission east of Suez.

The forward repair vessel acts as a floating garage/supply ship for warships, but especially submarines.

Picture: LA(Phot) Nicky Wilson, FRPU East

IF YOU didn’t catch RFA Diligence sailing out of Portsmouth Harbour on a glorious July morning yesterday, well, you’ve missed her for between five and eight years.

The ‘floating garage’ left the Solent to resume her mission east of Suez, supporting Royal Navy submarine operations in particular.

She’s spent most of her recent career in the Gulf region as a modern-day ‘depot ship’ for the Silent Service, acting as a floating workshop for hull and machinery repairs, as well as facilities for supplying electricity, water, fuel, air, cranes and stores.

Officially a Forward Repair Ship, Diligence can provide support to either the surface fleet or submarines – although it’s the latter she’s been mostly assisting in recent years.

She returned to the UK after a lengthy spell away late last year, since when she’s undergone some maintenance and refurbishment and carried out the first trials with one of the Navy’s new Astute-class submarines.

‘Dili’ practised ‘rafting up’ with HMS Ambush in Gareloch this spring – key to providing any front-line support to submarine operations.

In the longer term, the ship will also be working with other RN vessels east of Suez, notably the four minehunters the UK has permanently stationed in the region. Diligence can act as their mother ship – particularly when their current mother, amphibious support ship RFA Cardigan Bay, goes in for maintenance.

The ship was originally built for the merchant marine, acting as an oil rig support ship. She was taken up from trade during the 1982 Falklands War, subsequently bought by the UK, converted and renamed, being commissioned into the Royal Fleet Auxiliary in 1984.

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