In a half-hour ceremony, the head of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary Commodore Duncan Lamb welcomed RFA Tiderace to the naval service.

“Today’s Tiderace is a most welcome and fitting addition to the modern Royal Fleet Auxiliary,” Cdre Lamb said.

“Bringing a new ship into service is a demanding endeavour which relies on a diverse, multi-skilled team, strong leadership and unflinching determination. Tiderace bears testimony to this and I pay tribute to the men and women in the UK and around the globe, military and civilian who have contributed to this project and made today possible.”

Each of the four vessels in the 21st-Century generation of Tides can deliver more than 1,500 cubic metres of fuel every hour – nearly 400,000 gallons, or 1½ million litres… enough to fill the tanks of more than 27,000 family runarounds.

Four Tides have been built for the Royal Navy – Tidespring is already heavily engaged supporting operations and training around the UK; Tidesurge is being fitted out in Falmouth and Tideforce is on her delivery voyage from South Korea ready to receive British military communications kit and weaponry.

All four ships are designed to be at the heart of a carrier strike group, supporting HMS Queen Elizabeth or Prince of Wales, a Type 45 destroyer, Type 23 or 26 frigate and an Astute-class hunter-killer submarine.

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Paul
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Paul

Nice looking ships and a pleasure to hear of new ships being introduced efficiently and relatively quickly.

Dean
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Dean

its because they aren’t being built by BAE and the glue loving jocks

Chris
Guest
Chris

(Chris H) Dean – the ‘really really clever’ (not) sarcastic comments about BAE are now getting rather tedious and boring and they add nothing to the discussion.

I guess you admire the QE carriers build quality? Well guess who was a major partner in the Carrier Alliance supplying the largest blocks from Glasgow and Portsmouth? BAE Systems.

Its odd how the USA seems to value a British success story rather more than some Brits…..

Grubbie
Guest
Grubbie

Who admires QE2 build quality?

ron5
Guest
ron5

QE2 was a cruise liner dumbass

David Steeper
Guest

Chris. It’s because in the US they face competition from many other companies. In the UK we’re still trying to reverse the damage done by BaE’s asset stripping it’s way through the UK defence industry in the 80’s and 90’s.

Turgid Deamon
Guest
Turgid Deamon

Yeah, big, bad BAE Systems, how I wish they were a foreign company then we could complain about them not being British as well…

https://www.defensenews.com/global/europe/2018/08/08/uk-reports-massive-uptick-in-defense-exports/

Darren
Guest
Darren

They are not though. A year late and trouble with electrical wiring. Stop slagging of you own Country!

Darren
Guest
Darren

LIke the Carriers but unlike those tide tankers.

Rob N
Guest
Rob N

Still no CIWS – they should have 2 per ship…

Come to think of it no CIWS on QE yet.

Is MoD just not fitting them! They are no good in a shed somewere.

Rob

Rob
Guest
Rob

The Tides are supposed to get 2 x Phalanx and 2 x 30mm canon. I assume they will also carry a Wildcat with its Martlet missiles and Sea Venom (in a couple of years). I’m sure they will get them when on operations.

I read the other day that during Gulf War 2 we took Phalanx off a lot of ships and installed them at Basra airport. They were used many times against incoming missiles and grenades. A bit off topic but just shows how they are used according to need.

Julian
Guest
Julian

Re Basra also quite reassuring from a weapons performance/testing point of view to know that they got what was presumably quite a lot of real life testing to validate and potentially understand the limits of their capabilities. As long as corners aren’t cut by choosing not to install Phalanx on vessels that really should have them for a particular deployment then I see no issues with this shuffling around of Phalanx. If a third of ships are going to be in maintenance at any point in time then why have 50% more Phalanx than needed when so many other uses… Read more »

Chris
Guest
Chris

I think the general operating procedure for RFA vessels is to routinely sail without their main weaponry (they’ll always be carrying miniguns and gpmgs however) and then just have them fitted for when they deploy on major ops or to high threat areas. For example I believe Lyme Bay is currently in refit having Phalanx and 30mm fitted before heading to the gulf for mine countermeasures work seeing as the gulf is quite a hot area these days.

Rob N
Guest
Rob N

Hi,

I think the point is that you never know when a major crisis may happen. You would not have time to fit all those CIWS in sheds on the dick!

It is a dangerous mindset to have.

Saving money by keeping everything in the store!

Rib

Ian
Guest
Ian

Great!

Lovely ships. About the right number (provided other RFA numbers hold steady). British design, British final fit – all we got to do next time is build them in Britain :o)

Anyway, carrier strike coming together nicely.

Grubbie
Guest
Grubbie

Apart from the lack of aircraft and escorts, both quite important.

Lee1
Guest
Lee1

They may well have been built in Britain if a British yard had bid for the contract… It a bit hard to award the contract to a yard that does not want to sign it…

David Steeper
Guest

Lee 1. Well said.

Ian
Guest
Ian

Half picture. That’s why the NSS was brought into being. Capitalist America or Statist France would never build theirs abroad. Only UK through short termism and laissez faire attitude loses sovereign capability.

Lee1
Guest
Lee1

Again, France would have to build abroad if non of its shipyards bid for the contracts.

Chris J
Guest
Chris J

Which part of ‘No british shipyard submitted a bid’ don’t you understand?

ron5
Guest
ron5

Norwegian design

Paul.P
Guest
Paul.P

One version was by the Norwegians to be sure but I thought the design was from BMT.
https://www.naval-technology.com/news/newsbmts-aegir-design-selected-royal-norwegian-navys-jlss-programme/

Paul.P
Guest
Paul.P

* Sorry, one cersion was ordered by the Norwegians

Darren
Guest
Darren

No, not well said at all. The fact is, UK yards were pushed out of this bid years before and the press were stating this. If you are going to spend money on a bid only to be rejected by your own anti manufacturing government and due to eu rules (labour started this with these ships, and tories-lib gov followed this up, that’s why they are the liblabcon), why would you bother? Times have changed now. These ships cost more than people realise, had problems with wiring etc, and were late asSir John Parker mentioned this in his report which… Read more »

Julian
Guest
Julian

I’ve asked this before on a previous article but maybe everyone had moved on from the comments section by then… I know the basic weapons fit includes 2 x Phalanx plus 2 x 30mm and that the Phalanx are installed on the mounting points when considered necessary for a particular deployment (as is also done for the Bays). Does anyone know whether the 30mm cannon are also fit-when-needed or are they permanent fixtures? Actually, given that the Bays also have 2 x 30mm as part of their listed armament, does anyone also know whether the Bay 30mm are permanent fits… Read more »

BB86
Guest
BB86

I think it depends how many we have in inventory as the RN just recycles them off old ships. I doubt very much the 30mm used by the RN is still in production and since we replaced 12 T42 with 6 T45 and decommissioned 3 T22 frigate without replacement there should have been plenty to go around without having to swap them across ships. I think i read the RN has 20 Phalanx somewhere I’m not sure how many goal keeper CIWS are still in storage, but if we use 12 on 6 T45, that only leaves 8 to go… Read more »

Lusty
Guest
Lusty

I’m not too sure. I’m tempted to say ‘fit when needed’.

Tidespring doesn’t currently have her Phalanx or 30mm cannons. It looks like Tiderace has the 30mm turrets, but if my eyes are playing tricks on me, no guns in them: https://twitter.com/search?f=images&vertical=default&q=rfa%20tiderace&src=typd

(perhaps they’re receiving maintenance).

Don
Guest
Don

This might help
Says looking for 12 new bushmaster 30mm to add to existing fleet of 72.
The existing fleet numbers may now be reduced with HMS Ocean being sold not sure if bushmaster included in sale
https://ted.europa.eu/TED/notice/udl?uri=TED:NOTICE:115077-2016:TEXT:EN:HTML

Julian
Guest
Julian

Wow. Good find. Thanks Don. The purchase of 12 30mm systems is listed as being for Queen Elizabeth carrier and Tides 1 – 4 (no mention of PoW) so that’s 4 x 2 30mm for the Tides leaving 4 over for QEC. Wikipedia is a bit vague on the number of 30mm on each carrier but I’m pretty sure it’s either 3 or 4 each so it looks as if both the Tides and QEC are going to have permanent fits and not Phalanx-like swapovers. My guess is that the Phalanx on the carriers will be permanent fit as well,… Read more »

Don
Guest
Don

QEC are due to get 3 x phalanx
and 4 X 30mm.

Julian
Guest
Julian

Thanks again Don. In that case the numbers add up perfectly. Great.

Mike Saul
Guest
Mike Saul

The most successful naval procurement project of the past 40 years.

Lots of lessons to be learnt from this project, the important one is UK shipbuilding is not competitive regards quality or cost

Chris
Guest
Chris

Fairly successfully but not the most seeing as they were delivered late and over budget.

Mike Saul
Guest
Mike Saul

Specifications were changed through the build requiring substantial rewiring work to be carried out.

Delays had nothing to do with build of the ships as specified in the original contract.

Nigel Collins
Guest
Nigel Collins

First class job all round apart from the lack of armament. This should have been installed before they set sail. Great looking ships by the way! Definitely worth considering giving this yard more work in the future, the deserve it.

BB85
Guest
BB85

Phalanx costs $5.6mm each, I read somewhere that the RN has around 20 in total which they move from ship to ship depending on deployment. If every ship was fitted 100% of the time I think the number would be around 56 which would be an extra $200mm

Rob N
Guest
Rob N

So in time of war we have no CIWS for a half our ships – good one MoD!

Not putting our ships and crews at risk for cost cutting at alRib

Helions
Guest
Helions

Having a RAM system fitted would be a huge plus as well. Probably asking way too much though.

Cheers.

ron5
Guest
ron5

Depends on the target set.

Mr Bell
Guest
Mr Bell

Bb85 interesting comments. Are you sure about those facts? If so that is terrible news. If a major conflict errupted and we need our ships out on the seas armed and ready, we would not have enough weapons to go around. The MOD should immediately order enough phalanxes and possible RAM to arm all its ships.
Ditto with light guns and 20+30mm canons. We should not be scrimping on armaments that should be fitted as part of a vessels defence armaments suite

Julian
Guest
Julian

Presumably there will need to be a step up in numbers as we transition from T23 to T26/T31e since T23 isn’t making any demands on the Phalanx stockpile at the moment whereas T26 definitely will and T31? – who knows at this stage since the released spec guidelines were for CIWS or VLS but not necessarily both so I suppose a design with Sea Ceptor but not Phalanx might end up being what is chosen; we simply have no idea re T31 right now.

Rob N
Guest
Rob N

I think we had a lesson in the Falklands about only having one defensive system.

It would be a shame to have to learn the lesson again in ships…

Rob

Daniele Mandelli
Guest
Daniele Mandelli

CIWS or lack of covered many times. MOD rotate existing systems to deployed units.

I’m personally against it and if we are to spend hundreds of millions on a vessel they should be Rmed properly, even if it’s a paltry extra 200 million.

They just spend 3 three quarters of a billion pounds paving a runway and doing up Marham FFS.

Pacman27
Guest
Pacman27

Couldn’t agree more

The cost of these close in defensive weapons is neglible in the scale of things and we also need to consider the cost of moving these from ship to ship constantly.

If we do things, we should do it properly each and every time.

Sad state of affairs

Chris McMahon
Guest
Chris McMahon

so if the balloon goes up and the RN has to make a major response do we
– keep the unarmed ships in port while we go cap-in-hand to the US.
– sail them anyway because they will be needed.
21st Century Denmark Straits – POW fitted for 14” but not with because KG5 has the turrets and will swap them at refit time.

Mike smith
Guest
Mike smith

Most rfa have the 30mm turrets fitted but barrels are stored away. They also all carry gpmg and mk44 miniguns

Elizzar
Guest
Elizzar

Wasn’t one of the big lessons from the Falklands War the lack of close-in defences on ships? I understand the argument of only fitting systems on ships going to ‘hot zones’, but quite often you don’t know when a new conflict or attack may occur. Better to have on all ships and not need, rather than lose a vessel. Even a single OPV is now more than the $200 million quoted above by BB85 … !

David Taylor
Guest
David Taylor

During the Cold War the thinking was that ships deep in the Atlantic would only come up against the occasional ‘air target’ so air defence wasn’t seen in terms of saturation attack (a la Crete) which up threat would be the USN’s CBG’s problem. The occasional pop-up missile and MPA were deemed to be the RN’s main threats. The RN dumped the AA gun pretty rapidly compared to say the Italians or French, repeating the mistakes of the early days of WW2 by not investing in modern mounts. Guns are pretty cheap when you are talking about billion pound 8000… Read more »

David Taylor
Guest
David Taylor

To be honest if money were available I would remove the Mk8 Mod 1 from T45 and put a 76mm in its place. They will never go on to the gun line as they are far too valuable. Also now Mk8 is electric and reliable its true purpose, giving the WEM’s something to do has gone.

Paul.P
Guest
Paul.P

Agree, the 5in is not the way to go for the Type 45. The choice gun replacement on the 45s argues for the 76mm as the selected gun for Type 31. For best price make that decision now at Type 31 main gate and buy enough to fit them to the 45s when they go in for their new diesels.

David Taylor
Guest
David Taylor

Yep. Well it would make sort of sense that the cheaper ‘general purpose’ hull gets the bigger gun.

Rob N
Guest
Rob N

When Sea Wolf was fitted to the Type 22 it was ghought no further CIWS would be requied. However the Sea Wolf system was new in the Falklandsconflict and failled times. The lesson was you need a back-up. Not fitting 2 systems is folly. It can only please those who wish to save money at the expense of lives. All new RN ships should have at least 2 systems perminently fitted – not in a shed. This is all about cost saving. I dare not ask the question of how many systems are actually in working order! I can imagine… Read more »

Mr Bell
Guest
Mr Bell

Surely we can find £200 million from a multi billion defence budget to buy enough 20mm phalanxes, 30mm canons and other close range cheap gun and point defence missile systems. I particularly worry our capital ships QE carriers, type 45s and the coming type 26 have no rapid reaction close range air defence system like SeaRAM. For small deck space RAM missile mounts provide a 21 missile load which is pretty useful in a saturation attack. All for the cost of £1 million per launcher. Surely, surely the £3.5 billion each QE carriers should have a couple of these and… Read more »

DRS
Guest
DRS

Sea ceptor rather than RAM on carriers. There is enough space near the phalanx mounts to put these and they don’t have as much debris on take off. Locally manufactured too and don’t need a separate radar. Could probably even cue them in from the phalanx radar if needed. And yes definitely need more or these in stock and fitted on any deployed ship wether in a hot zone or not.

Anthony D
Guest
Anthony D

Would carriers using missiles delay flight operations (creating additional vulnerability) and give incentive to underinvest in escorts? Not sure it’s worth it on balance.

Rob N
Guest
Rob N

The Sea Ceptor can run off the 997 the same as it does on the T23. You could even put a Land Ceptor unit on QE at a pinch. The carrier not being fitted with Sea Ceptor is just negligent. The new US CVN has Evolved Sea Sparrow, RAM missile and Phalanx. Ours currently has nothing that could stop a missile. Also we should be looking at new systems capable of killing the new hypersonic anti-ship missiles. I am not sure Phalanx is up to the job any more. After all that is why the US developed Sea RAM because… Read more »

Helions
Guest
Helions

The QEs need this fitted as well (I really mean NEED too). Apparently very effective.

http://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/5543/the-navy-is-quietly-arming-its-supercarriers-with-anti-torpedo-torpedoes

Cheers.

Bloke down the pub
Guest
Bloke down the pub
Darren
Guest
Darren

Logistics, self-defence with carrying out certain protection measures and duties in the front line is an important sovereign requirement. Were these ships built for the RFA to serve/backup the RN? “British military communications kit and weaponry”, sounds warlike to me.

David Taylor
Guest
David Taylor

The RFA is in the war business. They have to military communications kit because they are essentially part of the military. Even back when we had enough escorts for patrol work RFA’s used to do (and still do) lots of interesting stuff beyond moving stuff. For example they larger ones were good places to base helicopters. Ships being large self contained systems have inherent utility. As for weapons well ships need to defend themselves whether it is from a missile or plane, or Third World pirate. Some of the Fort class even had space for a planned SeaWolf VLS silo.… Read more »

Darren
Guest
Darren

They are warlike and warships then. Thank you. They will never do civil work!

David Taylor
Guest
David Taylor

Well I think the term we use here in the UK ‘auxiliary’ covers things pretty well. They are specialist ‘cargo’ ship built to support our warships. 🙂

Darren
Guest
Darren

Which means are warship like and military and of sovereign importance as all logistics is. German gets around this to get around eu rules! We have to do the same thing. They are paid for by the UK taxpayer but where that money gets spent is down to this eu empire’s rules!

Helions
Guest
Helions
Darren
Guest
Darren

How much was BMT paid for adapting this foreign design?

Julian
Guest
Julian

Where did the design originate from? I thought the basic design was BMT’s Aegir design that was first adapted for the Norwegian order and then adapted for the UK order. From BMT’s web site… “BMT’s original concept design, Aegir®, is the blueprint for a family of naval support vessels that can replenish ships at sea and, due to their advanced double-hulled design, are compliant with the latest IMO environmental regulations. The design has been adopted by the UK and Norwegian navies for their latest support vessels and is under serious consideration by several other naval forces around the world.” [… Read more »

Darren
Guest
Darren

So why did it cost so much then?

Darren
Guest
Darren

And how come the far smaller scale Norwegian ship cost £140 million quid? Expensive, building ships abroad.

Darren
Guest
Darren

Around 20% more, or if we factor out the added UK content of 150 million pounds which for some reason is not included in these ships build, the cost is over 2000 pounds per ton more expensive for Norway.

Julian
Guest
Julian

That’s an interesting question. Four things occur to me… 1 – We placed our order almost a year and a half earlier (22 Feb 2012 vs 28 Jun 2013 for the Norwegians) so there would presumably be some inflation for the Norwegian order. 2 – At the point of negotiating the Norwegian deal Daewoo had already won the big UK order so might have been less inclined to offer the Norwegians a really good price to land a big fish – the Norway order wasn’t such a big fish and Daewoo had already recently caught a big fish anyway. At… Read more »

Darren
Guest
Darren

From what I have learnt, all Daewoo had to do was build the ships and not absorb anything like this. Perhaps the 150 million UK added bit did not have to be sovereign capability either. Why did we need to design or adapt a design here in the UK and lose any intellectual property to South Korea? it has to be remembered that the cost overall for the 4 Tides is about 619 million pounds. it was made to look lower by just stating the build bit from South Korea. If we are to believe the tax clawback scenario which… Read more »

Julian
Guest
Julian

What intellectual property was lost to SK? As I understand it the hull was designed by BMT here. Presumably then CNC cutting files and other build data were sent to Daewoo as essentially the blueprints for the design that Daewoo was being paid to build. I would be amazed if the contract didn’t specify that all IPR on the design remained with BMT and probably also covered any derivative works (design changes) that needed to be made during build (also assigned to BMT). A good contract would have covered residuals as well. SK has strong IPR law so I think… Read more »

Darren
Guest
Darren

In all fairness, I find Dr Stotts reasoning being more of the case https://campus.recap.ncl.ac.uk/Panopto/Pages/Embed.aspx?id=f4cfb094-9a7c-4228-85f2-84917925648f&v=1. You just cannot build a ship and close your eyes to new tech and design. They can look then improve to say it was not BMT. This could carry on into other warship design that may be sensitive. Why not allow SK to design the ship instead too and we learn from it in use? The price difference between the little Norwegian ship and the UK ships is massive. Too much for just profit and medical facilities. More like the actual price, which fits into the… Read more »

Darren
Guest
Darren

I got the Norway origin from something like this: https://www.scribd.com/document/105962247/BMT-Defence-Services-Aegir-18R.

I guess the ship had to be based on a design. it happened to be a Norwiegen baltic tanker design. I’ve just learnt Aegir is about Norse mythology.