Royal Fleet Auxiliary Appoints First Female CO

Captain Susan Cloggie-Holden has taken charge of the 39,000-tonne RFA Tiderace, after 20 years in the service.

Captain Susan Cloggie-Holden has taken charge of RFA Tiderace, becoming the first female commanding officer in the 116-year history of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA).

Twenty years after joining the RFA, Capt Cloggie-Holden entered her name in the log of the replenishment ship at Devonport Naval Base, formally taking over from her predecessor Captain Angus Bissell.

Tiderace has spent the past six months supporting Royal Navy operations in home waters after a refit in Liverpool, with Capt Cloggie-Holden serving as the tanker's second-in-command.

"I feel very privileged to have the opportunity of taking command of a vessel of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary – it is a pivotal moment,” said the new Commanding Officer, who lives in Ayrshire, south-west Scotland.

"When I commenced my career as a Cadet there hadn’t been any female senior officers, therefore I feel honoured to be the first female Captain in the Royal Fleet Auxiliary.

She added that she hopes it will allow all women in the organisation to "aspire to achieve whatever they put their minds to".

Last year, she was named the Global Seafarer of the Year at the Lloyd's List Europe Awards.

RFA Tiderace
RFA Tiderace entered service in 2018 (Picture: MOD).

The 37-year-old was involved in the initial campaign against the Taliban in 2001-02 (Operation Veritas), supporting the post-Saddam Iraqi Navy in 2006-07, conducting counter-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden at the height of the scourge in 2008-09, and navigating supply ship RFA Fort Rosalie providing support to Royal Navy vessels involved in operations off Libya in 2011.

Captain Cloggie-Holden was also the first Royal Fleet Auxiliary Female Champion, chairs the RFA Women's Network, has set up a female-to-female mentoring scheme across the RFA, and was a founding member of the Maritime UK Women in Maritime Taskforce. 

The RFA is designed to provide the ships of the Royal Navy, especially its carrier battle groups, with fuel to sustain global operations and RFA ships can also be used as vessels to carry out military, peacekeeping and relief missions.

Cover image: MOD.