RFA WAVE KNIGHT is a Wave-class fast fleet tanker of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) of the United Kingdom tasked with providing fuel, food, fresh water, ammunition and other supplies to Royal Navy vessels around the world.
WAVE KINGHT was built by VSEL (after 1999, BAE Systems Marine) in Barrow-in-Furness, being launched in 2000. She was accepted into service in 2003 and is the second ship to bear this name in RFA service. WAVE KNIGHT and her sister WAVE RULER replaced the elderly OLNA and OLWEN two Ol-class 36,000 ton fast fleet tankers built at Swan Hunter and Hawthorn Leslie respectively in the 1960s. She is currently commanded by Captain Ross Ferris, RFA.
WAVE KNIGHT has a standard crew of 80 Royal Fleet Auxiliary personnel with provision for a further 22 Royal Navy personnel to conduct helicopter and weapons systems operations. She carries a full medical team and sick bay and is capable of distributing 2,000 emergency relief packages in times of crisis.
The ship has the capability to supply fuel and other liquid cargo to vessels using replenishment rigs on port and starboard beams and through a Hudson reel-type stern rig. When providing support for amphibious operations, WAVE RULER is also able to deliver fuel to dracones positioned alongside. In addition to fuel, the ship carries ammunition and other stores which can be transferred while underway. She can operate a Merlin HM1 helicopter, or other helicopters of similar size, from a hangar and flight deck at the stern.
In October 2004, WAVE KNIGHT and the frigate HMS MONTROSE provided assistance to the stricken Canadian submarine HMCS CHICOUTIMI , which ran into difficulties 100 miles (160 km) north-west of County Mayo, Ireland after 2,000 litres of seawater entered the vessel due to hatches being left open in the fin. Three of the Chicoutimi's crew were airlifted to hospital in Ireland, one dying en route.
During 2008 and 2009, WAVE KNIGHT was deployed to the Middle East, where she acted as Arabian Gulf Ready Tanker (AGRT) in support of Allied forces, providing fuel and supplies to ships from over eight nations.
Between 17–21 May 2008, the WAVE KNIGHT participated in Exercise Khunjar Haad, a multi-national exercise held in the Gulf of Oman. Other participating warships included the American destroyer USS RUSSELL (DDG-59), the French frigate SURCOUF (F711), the British frigate HMS MONTROSE (F236), and four other coalition ships conducted air defense; surface warfare operation; visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS); and joint gunnery exercises, which focused on joint interoperability training and proficiency.
On 18 April 2009, Royal Navy personnel operating from WAVE KNIGHT in the Gulf of Aden managed to intercept and fend off two pirate attacks involving the vessels HANDY TANKERS MAGIC and FRONT ARDENNES u sing the ship's armament. At 0800, the ship received a distress call from MV HANDY TANKERS MAGIC indicating that they were under attack by pirates and requesting assistance. Arriving on the scene, WAVE KNIGHT gave chase to the pirate skiff and using its weapons as cover, held it and its 'mother boat' until the Dutch naval vessel HNLMS DE ZEVEN PROVINCIEN arrived. 13 Hostages were released and the pirates' weapons were destroyed. Within two hours, another distress call was received by WAVE KNIGHT from the vessel MV FRONT ARDENNES, also under attack by pirates. Arriving to give support, the ship prevented the pirates from boarding the tanker, firing warning shots and causing the pirates to flee. With helicopters from the NATO task group ships HMCS WINNIPEG and USS HALYBURTON, WAVE KNGHT gave chase for six hours, until the HMCS WINNIPEG arrived, disarming the pirates.
The then Commanding Officer of WAVE KNIGHT, Captain Pilling, said:
“RFA WAVE KNIGHT is a modern replenishment ship designed to be able to support a myriad of coalition maritime operations. Our primary role is refuelling and aviation operations, but we are fully capable of conducting anti-piracy operations in and around the Horn of Africa. We have been on station for over a year providing support to many nations, and we remain committed to helping ensure maritime security”.
Captain Pilling, Royal Navy interview.
On 23 October 2009, personnel aboard WAVE KNIGHT witnessed the kidnapping by Somali pirates of two British citizens, Paul and Rachel Chandler, from the yacht LYNN RIVAL Despite coming to within 15 m of the couple's vessel, they did not intervene for fear of endangering their lives. When giving a speech at Chatham House on 27 November 2009, First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope made his position on the crew's conduct clear, stating that "They do not appreciate, and I do not like them, being branded cowards".
In 2009–2010, the ship underwent a re-fit in Liverpool. As of February 2011, she was back in service.
On 25 April 2011, WAVE KNIGHT left Portland and joined the COUGAR 11 deployment, the first of the Response Force Task Group deployments, where she is acting as a supply/support ship. The deployment also saw her take part in Exercise Cypriot Lion, off the coast of Cyprus.
3 June 2011 saw WAVE KNIGHT and the vessels HMS ALBION, HMS SUTHERLAND and RFA FORT ROSALIE, ordered to break away from the COUGAR 11 deployment and head to the coast of Libya to take part in Operation Unified Protector, the ongoing NATO operation there. By late June the vessels were back on the RFTG tasking, and after passing through the Suez Canal began Operation Red Alligator, a major exercise in the Red Sea with the Armed Forces of Saudi Arabia.
February 2012 saw WAVE KNIGHT operating in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden as part of Operation Scimitar Anzac, an anti-piracy operation in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. This international operation included the Royal Navy destroyer HMS DARING , the Royal Australian Navy frigate HMAS PARRAMATTA , and the Pakinstan Navy's PNS BABUR. WAVE KNIGHT acted as the replenishment vessel for the ships. She returned to the UK on 16 March 2012 to prepare for a refit period after ten years of operations. During the refit upgrades were made to the ships engine, cabins, and air conditioning systems.
In January 2013, WAVE KNIGHT departed Portland for a six-month deployment to the Caribbean, where she will act as Atlantic Patrol (North), relieving RFA ARGUS. The ship will conduct anti-narcotic operations and standby to provide humanitarian aid for the 2013 hurricane season As of 1 May 2013, RFA WAVE KNIGHT was seen Docked in Miami's Port Government Cut. On 17 June she called into the port of Willemstad, Curaçao at the Otrabanda Megapier.
Tristan da Cunha 2005 envelope
British Sailors Society label. SG543 Sea Breezes7/54