RFA Tidesurge is carrying out trials with the largest British military helicopter type, the Chinook.

The Royal Navy say that the trials, conducted off Portsmouth and in the Navy’s South Coast Exercise Areas, will help to write the operator manual for the Tide class, allowing all four ships to launch and land Chinooks on deployment.

RFA Fort Victoria served as the launchpad for Sea King intelligence-gathering missions in the Indian Ocean, while RFA Mounts Bay is carrying out anti-drug running patrols in the Caribbean, and is on standby to provide help should a hurricane barrel through the region. According to a release:

“The ability to use a Chinook means heavier loads – such as humanitarian aid – can be carried, or more troops (up to 55, with kit) put on the ground, allowing more to be achieved than with the Fleet Air Arm’s Wildcat or Merlin helicopters. 

A specialist team from the MOD’s home of aviation testing and trials at Boscombe Down are operating Chinook, recording countless readings on how the helicopter handles in various weather and sea conditions for what are known as First of Class Flying Trials.”

“This is another step on the journey into service. RFA Tidesurge’s officers and crew are now looking forward and ahead to the service of dedication and being welcomed into the RFA flotilla family,” said Tidesurge’s Commanding Officer Captain Miles Lewis RFA.

14 COMMENTS

  1. The RFA ships are a great force multiplier and any new ship is welcome, but unfortunately even after the 4 new tide class ships the RFA has still been butchered by the government, and we are getting half the number of new ships as originally planned! Sound familiar anyone….. I also think we should class them as War ships as to build them only in the UK to help UK ship building as thst also has been butchered beyond recognition! but I bet with the great deal the government got for the 4 tides built in Korea they won’t be doing that anytime soon…..

    • It’s the same old chestnut though.

      Industry vs military budget.

      UK industry benefits – great. Jobs. Economy boost and all the rest.

      Cost to Mod budget home built. More.

      Equals. Less money for Mod and cuts elsewhere with an already existing black hole.

      Is UK industry capable of building something at a competitive cost?

      How much for River batch 2s? Silly money.
      How much for Challenger updates? Silly money.
      Warrior turrets?
      How much for Wildcats? Silly money.
      3 T26? Billions.
      The list is pretty much endless.

      If I’m totally wrong I’m happy to be corrected but the impression I have is that home built stuff costs a lot more which impacts directly on a cash strapped Mod.

      Agree though RFA like all the rest has been massively reduced.

      And of course, despite whatever the costs, HMG are quite capable of increasing the military budget to help both the military AND home industry if they so desired.

      But they don’t.

      So what’s the catch? Why are they doing this?

      • MoD almost always buys in penny packets and then runs the programs on for years and years, so expenditure in each year is lower but the overall program cost is high. One good thing about the Tides was they were all purchased as a single contract and built as a batch.
        The Type 26 build, as an example, is being stretched out to ridiculous lengths.

    • There’s a reason these were built in Korea. All UK yards were so busy (for example with modules for the carriers) they didn’t even bother bidding for the work.
      Now that’s done, I suspect it may be different next time – let’s hope!

    • It is easy to say that we should build them in the UK. However no UK shipyard even bid for these ships in the first place. We are just not that great at building mass produced ships at a reasonable cost. We are excellent at building state of the art stuff but these are cheap off the shelf ships and we just can’t compete.

      • All we need is one decent sized yard and to give them a rolling programme for all the large ships! 1 every 1 1/2 years – 4 tankers, 4 FSS, 2 LPD, 2 LPH, 4 amphib support vessels. That’s gives us around a 25yr cycle. Work to a budget of around £4-500 million per year on average, that would be max £12.5 billion for 16 large vessels all around the 25-40,000 tonne mark and be enough to make them state of the art and fully loaded.
        The yard can invest knowing it has security, jobs are secure, everyone’s happy and we get a steady drumbeat of ships.
        It’s not rocket science and easily achievable with our defence budget!!!!!!!!!!!!

        • It is not that simple. We just do not order enough ships for it to provide good value for money. The South Korean shipyards are able to do it so cheap because they are churning almost identical ships out like ford fiestas!

          We have the ability to easily make those ships but they are just not particularly profitable to make especially when other are doing it so much cheaper than we could achieve.

        • Both of you have good points. However, I wouldn’t want to write off the ability for UK yards to be competitive just yet. Equally we cannot just give all the work to one yard because that puts MoD over a barrel on negotiations.

          This IMO is why the NSS is so critical because it will pace out the work on a steady cadence but is also intended to support/develop multiple yards that are financially viable based on a mix of commercial work and MoD work. Yards dedicated only to military work are at risk and BAES should note that, even if they are safe for the next decade plus.

          Note that I use future tense. The NSS cannot magically create a competitive commercial shipbuilding industry capable of providing competitively priced RN/RFA ships overnight. But its easing into it with T31e and if yards are reasonably competitive it can be supported by FSS, not forgetting the support contracts too. I’m pretty sure any government would want to have FSS made in the UK providing there isn’t a steep price to pay.

  2. There’s a reason these were built in Korea. All UK yards were so busy (for example with modules for the carriers) they didn’t even bother bidding for the work.
    Now that’s done, I suspect it may be different next time – let’s hope!

  3. The RFA in particular has a long history of converting civilian ships.

    Perhaps this could prove a viable option for niche capabilities – i.e. replacements for Argus and Diligence.

  4. now would be a good time to buy a relatively new rig support or wind farm support vessel to replace Diligence, there remains an over capacity in the off shore industry
    With vessels identical to Diligence (as she was purchased when Stena Inspector).

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