The Commander of Combined Task Force (CTF) 151 and his seven-nation battlestaff has set sail from Bahrain, taking the fight against piracy out of their headquarters and on to the waters of the Indian Ocean.

RFA Fort Victoria, a British Royal Fleet Auxilary tanker, will play host to Singapore’s Rear Admiral Giam Hock Koon and his command team for the next three months.

Staff from CTF 151 embark RFA Fort Victoria
Staff from CTF 151 embark RFA Fort Victoria

At 34,500 tonnes Fort Victoria is the largest ship in the British Naval Service, and has spent the last three months providing logistics support to British and international security forces in the Gulf region.

Today she finds herself with a different job – coordinating the movements of the ships protecting merchant shipping from the Red Sea to the Straits of Hormuz, as well as in the Gulf of Aden and the Somali Basin.

Capable of refuelling three warships at once as well as carrying dry supplies like food and medical equipment,  the ship will fulfil two roles within the task force – a one-stop shop for keeping the task force afloat, and home to Rear Admiral Giam and his team.

“We’re delighted to have the CTF team on board for what looks to be a very challenging, but rewarding, deployment,” said Captain Kevin Rimell, Fort Victoria’s Commanding Officer.

Rear Admiral Giam Hock Koon and Capt Kevin Rimell aboard RFA Fort Victoria
Rear Admiral Giam Hock Koon and Capt Kevin Rimell aboard RFA Fort Victoria

“For a British ship to fly the flag for such a well-regarded international task force is a real honour and a source of pride for myself and the crew.”

Since embarking last Friday the Battle Staff have been busy getting to know their new home, and familiarising themselves with her impressive range of facilities and capabilities.

Rear Admiral Giam said: “RFA Fort Victoria possesses good communications facilities, an experienced crew and the strong and supportive leadership of Capt. Rimell and his team.

“The CTF 151 team has seamlessly shifted our Command from our shore facility in Bahrain, and now looks forward to setting sail and getting to the thick of the action.”

Capt Michelle Chai and Maj Dennis Lim in Fort Victoria's Air Operations Room
Capt Michelle Chai and Maj Dennis Lim in Fort Victoria’s Air Operations Room

For Military Expert 2 Raymond Khoo, a Communications Technician on the Battle Staff, Fort Victoria’s crew and facilities have already made an impression: ““RFA Fort Victoria has far exceeded my expectations.

“I can operate onboard and focus wholeheartedly on my job without having to worry about things like accommodation, food and logistics support.  The crew has been thoroughly professional and forthcoming with their help.”

Command of CTF 151 rotates through the 27 nations of the Combined Maritime Forces, with Rear Admiral Giam and his staff due to hand over to a team from the Pakistan Navy in June.