Autumn/Winter 2017

A supersized refuelling mission

James Fisher group companies joined forces to re-fuel the 65,000-tonne aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth in Scotland prior to its launch in December.

Britain’s biggest warship needs four million litres of fuel to top up its enormous tanks – a colossal operation which would make delivery via road tankers to the small port town of Invergordon where it was based, completely impractical.

‘Refuelling by road would demand around 120 lorries thundering across Scotland for each fuel stop.’

Explains Andy Scraggs, Royal Navy Logistics and Infrastructure Division.

Instead JF Everard was called in to help. Two British crewed coastal tankers (the MV Sarnia Cherie and the MV Sarnia Liberty) were duly loaded with fuel at the oil fuel depot in Gosport and then sailed to Scotland. Because the only available berth at Invergordon was a small, steeply shelving mooring, the vessels had to be weighted down at the stern to counter the angle. Fuel was delivered to HMS Queen Elizabeth via two 250 metre-long hoses.

Fiona Everard, managing director at James Fisher Everard explained:

'This project is a great example of what a partnership approach within the group can achieve. The re-fuelling operation was quite complex in its logistics and by teaming up with Fendercare we were able to negate some of the issues that we faced in terms of the ship-to-ship transfer of fuel.

'The result was highly effective and meant the fuel could be loaded as fast as possible, allowing HMS Queen Elizabeth to fulfil its sea trials and head back to its home port for a commissioning ceremony.'

Two safe and effective fuelling operations were completed efficiently and on time, allowing HMS Queen Elizabeth to first resume trials, then head for its home port of Portsmouth.

The Royal Navy was thrilled with the procedure which went ahead at very short notice. In fact, Rear Admiral Richard Stokes wrote to JF Everard to thank the team for their part in this ‘national endeavour’, adding:

‘JFE’s whole hearted and thoroughly professional contribution was critical in ensuring that the platform sea trials of our nation’s future flagship were conducted successfully.’

The hoses for the refuelling operation were sourced by JF Everard from sister company, Fendercare Marine.

‘The range of niche, specialist services available across the James Fisher group allows us to combine expertise and deliver bespoke solutions like this. We have previously found synergistic advantages from working closely alongside JFO, JFMS, Strainstall and JFD and this is something we always consider when embarking on new projects.’ 

Says Lara Griffin, director of products division at Fendercare Marine.

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