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ROYAL FLEET AUX: Returning to service

RFA Fort Austin left the Birkenhead yard of Cammell Laird on 2 September after completing a multimillion pound refit which is intended to make her fit to continue in service for another ten years. The 33-year-old ship was modernised, with the crew accommodation renewed, a new galley installed, all asbestos stripped out and replaced, the main engine stripped down and overhauled, and all the auxiliary equipment replaced. New diesel generator sets were fitted and the electronic and communications equipment was updated.

The vessel arrived at Birkenhead under tow from Portsmouth, where she had been laid up for two years, for the extensive refit on 31 May 2011, and work began immediately. The contract was completed on time and to cost. The ship will now begin a series of trials, followed by a period of working up before she becomes fully operational.

Laid down at Scott Lithgow in 1975, launched in 1978 and commissioned in 1979, she has seen service with the RFA in all recent major RN operations.

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