Royal Navy’s newest tanker, RFA Tidespring enters service

The Royal Navy has officially accepted its newest Tide-class replenishment tanker, RFA Tidespring, into operational service during a dedication ceremony at HM Naval Base Portsmouth.

The ceremony was attended by Honorary Commodore in Chief of the British Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA), HRH Prince Edward the Earl of Wessex KG, GCVO.

The new 37,000 tonne ship is one of the four biggest tankers to be purpose built for the RFA. Once in service with the RFA, she will provide fuel, food and stores for Royal Navy warships all around the world.

RFA Tidespring is the first of class of the Military Afloat Reach & Sustainability (MARS) Tankers and together with her three sister ships Tiderace, Tidesurge and Tideforce, are flexible, state-of-the-art double hulled vessels, which will provide key future support to the Queen Elizabeth Class Aircraft Carriers.

Head of the RFA Service, Commodore Duncan Lamb, said: “Tidespring’s arrival into the Royal Fleet Auxiliary today is an exciting milestone in the history of the RFA. She is a tangible demonstration of the success of the MARS Tanker project which is delivering first-class global support for a first-class global Royal Navy.”

The Tide-class tankers are replacing the RFA’s single-hulled vessels. Significantly larger than their predecessors they are an advanced capability, specifically designed to provide fuel water and stores to the Queen Elizabeth-class Aircraft Carriers. They can also operate; Chinook, Merlin or Wildcat helicopters from their flight decks.

In addition to their supply duties in support of the RN, these state-of-the-art vessels will also provide a flexible capability to undertake a wide range of maritime operations, such as constabulary patrols policing shipping lanes and humanitarian relief, as well as providing support to NATO and coalition allies.

David Farmer, Head of the Commercially Supported Shipping Project Team at Defence Equipment and Support, said “The service of dedication is an occasion of immense pride for the dedicated and professional project team at DE&S who, working closely with the RFA, have overseen the construction and customisation of these world-class tankers which will support Royal Navy operations all over the world. We look forward to seeing Tidespring’s three sister ships, Tiderace, Tidesurge and Tideforce, join her in active service over the coming months”.

The MARS Tanker programme has an extensive domestic supply chain involving around 27 UK companies.

About Tide-class tanker:

Tide-class tanker (formerly the Military Afloat Reach and Sustainability (MARS) project) is a class of four fast fleet tankers that will enter service with the British Royal Fleet Auxiliary from 2017.

The 37,000 t ships will provide fuel, food, fresh water, ammunition and other supplies to Royal Navy vessels around the world. Norway has ordered a 26,000 t version with a 48-bed hospital and greater solid stores capacity, for delivery in October 2016 as HNoMS Maud.

The two variants are both based on the AEGIR design from Britain’s BMT Defence Services but are being built by Daewoo in South Korea with final outfitting in the UK and Norway respectively.

Britain ordered four ships in February 2012 at a cost of £452m, causing controversy for being built abroad. The Norwegians ordered their ship in June 2013 for NOK1,320m (~£140m).

Royal Navy



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