The UK’s Defence Equipment Sales Authority (DESA) has facilitated the sale of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) ship, Diligence, for disposal, showing the UK’s stance on disposing of surplus military assets.

Previously deployed in conflicts such as the Falklands and the Gulf, RFA Diligence has served as a support vessel for the Royal Navy. Now, as it sets sail for Turkiye under the ownership of LEYAL Ship Recycling Group, the ship’s retirement signals the end of an era.

Richard Whalley, head of DESA and a former crew member of RFA Diligence, emphasised the importance of responsible asset disposal, stating, “Responsible disposal of surplus defence assets is a key part of DESA business.” He further highlighted the economic benefits of the sale, which avoids unnecessary environmental costs and generates revenue for the UK.

The journey towards scrapping the ship was challenging. The onset of the global Covid-19 pandemic disrupted DESA’s initial tender process, limiting international sales competition. 

The former fleet repair vessel was taken off the market after the UK could not find a buyer. 

However, LEYAL Ship Recycling Group emerged as a candidate for the contract, securing the future of RFA Diligence.

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RFA Diligence‘s past includes serving as a fleet maintenance vessel and offering support during various naval operations. Its retirement marks the end of a chapter in British naval history.

The UK’s shipbuilding industry is crucial for both the economy and national security, yet it has faced declines in recent decades. However, the UK plans to increase defence spending to 2.5% of GDP by 2030, with £87bn allocated.