Those of us familiar with the old SIR class LSLs will not failed to have been impressed by the towering presence of RFA LYME BAY moored in the Thames at Greenwich. This 16,000 tonne landing ship dock was in London to support International Shipping Week. She arrived on 10th September and sailed on the afternoon of Saturday 14th.
The Ministry of Defence through the RFA is the largest employer of registered UK seafarers and during this visit LYME BAY was showcasing the RFAs contribution of UK Defence and UK Maritime. This also coincided with international publicity being given to her sister ship RFA MOUNTS BAY and the sterling Joint-Service aid to the Bahamas/Abaco Islands following Hurricane Dorian.
On Wednesday 11th LYME BAY hosted the RFA Livery Day and four members of our Branch had the pleasure to be there. This was a gathering of organisations with industry, learning and charitable affiliations to the RFA. Led by Commodore Duncan Lamb a number of presentations were made to demonstrate the unique and versatile organisation the RFA now is. This is not the old Merchant Navy organisation that many of us were familiar with. This was further emphasised by a tour of the ship and explanations of her capabilities. She is a ship that accommodates around 350 troops and their equipment, has no rudders or traditional propellers and generates over 6MW of electric power. Gone are those large switchboards and this managed from a control room that felt like a computer gamers dream. Her navigation bridge felt that ‘Captain Kirk’ would not feel out of place and her hospital facilities would have astonished, even sobered, our old RFA Surgeons. Most obvious is her very large flight deck sitting above her cargo deck which is accessible from the sea via a stern ramp. This internal deck is so large that it felt that one of our old SIR boats could comfortably fit in there. As said earlier this is not the old Merchant Shipping that many of us were familiar with. Nonetheless, some things do not change and we had an excellent traditional RFA curry buffet lunch.