A&P Falmouth has successfully completed a multi-million pound refit of the RFA Cardigan Bay – the third ship in her class to undergo a major refit at the world-renowned dockyard.
The team at the docks is now preparing for the arrival of the RFA Lyme Bay, which is due to arrive this summer and will become the fifth ship to have a major refit within the Cluster contract at Falmouth. Major refits on the RFA Argus, RFA Mounts Bay and RFA Largs Bay were completed in 2009, 2010 and 2011 respectively.
The grey ships, which have become a familiar part of the Falmouth skyline over the past four years, are in the docks as part of the Cluster Support Programme – a contract between A&P Group and the MoD to provide worldwide support to the ships.
The partnership has led to a more economical approach to ship repair and maintenance throughout the RFA flotilla, through advanced planning, knowledge of the vessels, continuous improvements in working practices, the reliable quality of work and availability of the docks.
It is estimated to deliver millions of pounds of savings to the MOD over 30 years on the previous arrangements, which saw individual contracts competed for as and when they were required, and has already been praised in Parliament.
Gerald Pitts, A&P’s Cluster Director, said: “I am delighted to say the RFA Cardigan Bay has been another successful project and we included further improvements and efficiencies identified during the previous two refits.
“The Cluster contract has been running for nearly four years and we are currently working with the MoD to compile evidence proving it has delivered value for money. We hope this will secure the option available to extend the contract through to June 2018, continuing to provide the support, maintenance and availability of the vessels.”
The RFA Cardigan Bay and Mounts Bay, both amphibious landing ships, and the RFA Argus, an aviation training ship, are all currently in Falmouth. It is the first time three RFA ships have been in the port at the same time since being awarded the Cluster contract in 2008.
The Cardigan Bay will be sailing from Falmouth shortly following a major refit and communication upgrade. The refit, which takes place every five years, included the installation of a complete new exhaust system and a major overhaul of its main engines, propulsion and electrical systems. Work took four months and was completed in January.
Since January the vessel stayed at A&P, where she received a communication upgrade prior to being deployed, where she will be relieving the RFA Lyme Bay, which will return to Falmouth later this year for her own five-year major refit.
The RFA Mounts Bay has been at the docks for the duration of March for annual maintenance, including the main engine, electrics, lifeboats and life saving equipment. She will now be resuming operational duties around the UK in readiness for her role as the Olympic guard ship this summer, where she will be based in Portland.
The RFA Argus, which was used as a film location for the Brad Pitt zombie movie World War Z when she was last in Falmouth, has just arrived back at the docks for three weeks of maintenance work and defect rectification. This will involve the main engine, auxiliary systems and painting, prior to deployment overseas.
In October 2011, the RFA Largs Bay was formally handed over to the Australian Department of Defence, which bought the ship after she was decommissioned, following a multi-million pound refit at A&P Falmouth. She has since been renamed HMAS Choules.
Since August 2010, A&P Falmouth has become a one stop shop for the four RFA vessels with its spares supply service. It provides all the in-service spares and logistics to ensure the vessels and their land based stores are kept fully stocked to keep them operational.
Peter Child, Managing Director of A&P Falmouth, said: “The Ministry of Defence has strong ties with Falmouth and we are delighted to celebrate the continuing success of the partnership between A&P Falmouth and the RFA and to showcase what has been achieved.
“The contract helps provide the A&P Falmouth – and it’s highly skilled employees – with vital security for the future. We provide excellent value for money, as we have proved previously with the RFA Mounts Bay and Largs Bay and we look forward to continuing in the next 12 months with planned refits on RFA Lyme Bay and RFA Argus in 2013.
“We have a worldwide reputation for excellence and efficiency and continue to develop our resources and invest in our skills base.”