The British Royal Fleet Auxiliary’s (RFA) Tide-class replenishment tanker, RFA Tidespring (A136) arrived in Falsane, Scotland for the very first time.
The first of the UK’s new tankers built specifically to support HMS Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers and their task groups, Tidespring is the second largest vessel on the Navy’s books after the future flagship.
After supporting training for Royal Navy and foreign warships off Plymouth, the 37,000-tonne floating petrol station will be key to providing ‘black gold’ to participants of the first of this year’s Joint Warrior exercise, the biannual air, land and sea workout for the UK and Allied armed forces.
The naval element is dictated from Faslane, where ships such as the American Arleigh Burke destroyer USS Ross have begun to gather ahead of JW getting under way in earnest on Sunday and Monday.
Thirty-nine naval units from 13 nations will take part with many of them using maritime exercise areas off the western and northern coasts of Scotland, including Cape Wrath.
Such is the scale and scope of Joint Warrior – run each April and October – that it will also embrace the Sennybridge exercise area just outside the Brecon Beacons and Salisbury Plain.
The exercise is due to conclude on May.
RFA Tidespring (A136)
RFA Tidespring is a Tide-class replenishment tanker of the British Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA).
The 39,000 tonne tanker is capable of carrying up to 19,000 cubic metres of fuel and 1,400 cubic metres of fresh water.
Ordered from DSME in 2012, the ship was accepted by the Ministry of Defence in 2017, approximately 18 months behind schedule. She arrived for final fitting out at A&P Falmouth, Cornwall on 31 March 2017, after a delivery voyage via Japan and Hawaii.
Tidespring sailed from Falmouth for final evaluation trials on 1 September 2017 which included her first visit to Gibraltar, first of class flying trials, and her first replenishment at sea (RAS) with RFA Wave Knight. On 16 November 2017, Tidespring entered Portsmouth for the first time to prepare for her dedication on 27 November.