RFA Diligence (A132)
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RFA Diligence acting as a target ship during a boarding exercise in 2011
|Builder:||Öresundsvarvet AB, Landskrona, Sweden|
|Commissioned:||12 March 1984|
|Identification:||Pennant number: A132|
|Status:||in active service|
|Displacement:||10,595 tonnes (10,428 long tons)|
|Length:||112 m (367 ft 5 in)|
|Beam:||20.5 m (67 ft 3 in)|
|Draught:||6.8 m (22 ft 4 in)|
|Speed:||10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph)|
|Troops:||up to 55 personnel|
|Complement:||54 RFA and up to 147 RN|
|Kelvin Hughes Ltd SharpEye navigation radar|
|Aviation facilities:||Helicopter deck up to CH-47 Chinook size|
RFA Diligence is a forward repair ship of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary. Launched in 1981 as a support ship for North Sea oil rigs, she was chartered by the British government to support naval activities during the 1982 Falklands War and was later bought outright as a fleet maintenance vessel. She gave assistance to the damaged USS Tripoli and Princeton in the 1991 Gulf War, and to Sri Lanka after the 2005 tsunami. She typically has deployments of 5-8 years in support of the Trafalgar-class submarine on duty east of Suez, with a secondary role as a mothership for British and US minesweepers in the Persian Gulf. Diligence is set to go out of service in 2020.
Launch and the Falklands War
Diligence was built by Öresundsvarvet AB, in Landskrona, Sweden and launched in 1981 as a civilian oil rig support ship. She first served the Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) during the Falklands War as a civilian owned ship taken up from the trade (STUFT). As MV Stena Inspector, the ship repaired many British vessels. Stena Inspector was purchased by the Government in 1983 for £25 million from Stena Offshore UK and renamed Diligence. She was sailed to the Clyde Dock Engineering facility, where she was converted and military features added, including a large workshop for hull and machinery repairs, supply facilities, accommodation, armaments and magazines and communications fits.
She is designed to provide forward repair and maintenance facilities to ships and submarines operating away from their home ports, so in addition to a variety of workshops she can also provide overside electrical supplies, fuel, water and sullage reception. Diligence provides a large workshop facility for Royal Navy vessels, this is equipped with specialist machinery such as arc welding equipment, lathes, pillar drills, grinders, band saws and a large store of spares.
Diligence is the Royal Navy's primary battle damage repair unit, and is on short notice to react to developing situations worldwide. One of the key features of the ship's design is her computer-assisted dynamic positioning system which can keep the vessel static in poor conditions, using the ship's range of thrusters and the variable-pitch propeller.
The ship has a helicopter deck on the roof of her bridge that is large enough to support a CH-47 Chinook. Her hull is built to the highest ice class specification, which allows her to navigate polar regions without the assistance of an icebreaker.
Diligence has provided damage repair work many times during its lifetime. At the end of the Iran–Iraq War, the Straits of Hormuz were mined, and Diligence supported the multinational minesweeping operation to clear that vital chokepoint. Diligence also helped to repair HMS Southampton after collision damage. The ship returned to the Persian Gulf in 1990 to support operations during the Gulf War by repairing, among others, American ships damaged by mines.
During Operation Ocean Wave 97, Diligence deployed to the Far East as a submarine support ship. The following year, the ship supported 3rd Mine Counter-Measures Squadron in the Persian Gulf. Following just two weeks in the UK, Diligence departed for the south Atlantic, returning to Faslane in December 1998. Early 1999 saw the ship again deployed to the Falklands region.
2001 saw a large exercise in Oman, and Diligence supported the four MCMVs involved. The ship's next wartime assignment came with the large taskforce deployed against Iraq in 2003. Returning to familiar territory, Diligence supported the largest British fleet deployed since the Falklands War.
Most recently she could be found off Sierra Leone with the Vela task force.
When the ship returned to UK in November 2006 she had the longest deployment of an RFA in recent times. From her departure from Portsmouth it was 5 and half years before she returned home to Portsmouth. In that time she has visited 25 different countries whilst steaming some 150,000 miles (241,000 km), through the Mediterranean to the Persian Gulf, across the Indian Ocean to India, Sri Lanka and Singapore, the South China Sea to the Philippines and from South Africa across the Atlantic to the Falklands and South America. Many of these Oceans and countries visited 2 or 3 times.
All this work took its toll on the 25-year-old ship, and the ship was given a £16 million overhaul during 2007 at Northwestern Shiprepairers and Shipbuilders in Birkenhead. Her accommodation areas, galley and engine room were all upgraded, with the intention of extending the ship's service life until the middle of the next decade. The overhaul was completed in December 2007.
In 2013, Diligence was part of the COUGAR 13 task group, ready to attend to any of the other ship's engineering requirements 
- "Practical Makes Perfect". Navy News. January 2014. p. 12.
- Falkland Islands Information Portal - Time Line, by Jason Lewis. 28 November 2006
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