Monday 27 November 2017 will mark a significant date in the history of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary as RFA Tidespring is welcomed to the operational fleet. A Service of Dedication will be held at HM Naval Base Portsmouth in the presence of guest of honour and Honorary Commodore in Chief of the RFA, HRH Prince Edward the Earl of Wessex KG, GCVO.
The new 37,000 tonne ship, one of the four biggest tankers to be purpose built for the RFA, recently arrived at Portsmouth in preparation for her official acceptance into operational service. 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.
• The Royal Fleet Auxiliary is a civilian-manned fleet owned by the Ministry of Defence, which provides world-class, cost-effective maritime operational support to the Royal Navy. The RFA enables ships of the RN to maintain operations 24/7, 365 days a year, around the world.
• The RFA is the largest UK employer of British merchant seamen.