RFA Tidespring, a Tide class tanker, is now eight months late and has still not been accepted by the Ministry of Defence.

The information comes to light in a response to a question asked by Douglas Chapman, Dunfermline and West Fife.

“To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what the principal technical faults are that have led to the delay of the transfer of the RFA Tidespring to the UK for customisation and capability assessment trials until 2017.”

Harriett Baldwin, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Ministry of Defence, answered:

“Delays in finalising elements of electrical design and the installation of Multi-Cable Transit insulation in accordance with new legislative regulations resulted in some adjustments in the build schedule.

These issues have now been resolved and Tidespring is expected to arrive in the UK in early 2017 to begin UK customisation and capability assessment trials.

Notwithstanding these issues, which are not unusual for any First of Class ship, build of the remaining ships in the Class is progressing well and we remain confident that all four tankers will be in service with the Royal Fleet Auxiliary by the end of 2018, as planned.”

The Tide class tanker is a class of four fast fleet tankers that will enter service with the Royal Fleet Auxiliary. The 37,000 tonne ships will provide fuel, food, fresh water, ammunition and other supplies to Royal Navy vessels around the world.

First steel was cut on the 24th of June 2014 for RFA Tidespring, she was expected to arrive in Falmouth in Spring 2016 to allow A&P Group to fit military equipment such as communications gear. Her three sister ships were to follow at six-month intervals.

As reported by DefenceNews, a spokeswoman for the MoD said:

“We remain confident of delivering the MARS Tanker project within the original approved budget and expect all four tankers to be in service by 2018 as planned.

As with all major projects, timelines are regularly reviewed and the nature of this contract means the MoD is protected from any unplanned cost increases.”

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.

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Politicians really should do better at asking questions, because if asked like that you get an answer to match.

For example, if the wiring issue had caused overall a 1 day delay, the answer would still be correct based on the question. It did cause a delay, it just wasn’t the reason that the ships are months late.


So what are the reason(s) the ships are month late?


From reading a few other forums though I’ve heard that the wiring issue is the reason for the months of delay. I read that the issue was wrong grade of wiring used in many places, particularly with respect to fire safety (which after the Falklands war is something the RN takes very seriously), resulting in extensive re-wiring which easily accounts for the entire delay.


This is possible, but either way you would think considering that policticans are masters of spinning the truth and not really asking the questions asked, that they would be better at constructing the questions than this.

Unless there is an underlying reason for highlighting the technical issues.

Barry Larking

Steve. This was a ‘planted’ Parliamentary question, i.e. one written by the Minister so as to get his official version of events – excuses – out before the pack closes in. This is usual practice for the House of Commons.


Good job the IPT got a fixed price contact! When asked what was their contingency funding for delays etc the Koreans allegedly said “We don’t have one because we don’t do delays”. Going to be costing them dear now. Great spec, great negotiations, great contract. Who said DE&S can’t get it right sometimes? Alternatively we could have had them built in UK and they would be late, BAE would demand the till to be opened again so the MOD could keep the afloat, they’d not perform to spec and they’d be painted in the rain. Let’s hope that the MOD… Read more »


Chapman is an SNP MP, so probably not inclined to give the UK government an easy ride, so perhaps this was just a poorly-worded question. Better just to ask what were the principal reasons behind the delay, rather than mention technical issues and thus allow the minister to neatly dodge disclosing non-technical issues (if there are any non-technical issues).