RFA Tidespring is the first of four Tide Class tankers and a dedication service took place in Portsmouth to officially welcome her into the fleet.

RFA Tidespring’s Commanding Officer Captain Simon Herbert said he was looking forward to taking the helm of the vessel:

“Sailing the first class of any ships is an immense privilege and I am extremely proud to be able to bring this highly modern, capable ship into Portsmouth Naval Base.”

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.

The Tide class are a 37,000 tonne derivative of BMT Defence Services AEGIR-26 design, whose origins lie in a civilian tanker from Skipskonsulent of Norway.

They are double-hulled to reduce or prevent oil being lost by damage to the outer hull, in line with the MARPOL regulations for civilian tankers (from which military tankers are partially exempt).

The flight deck is large and strong enough for a Chinook helicopter to land on.


    • I remember when i was on RFA Regent during the Falklands war we had placements for the installation of chaff
      We had them fitted ok BUT NOT until after the ceasefire
      Shutting the gate after the horse has bolted springs to mind
      (we had them fitted whilst at anchor off Port Stanley a helo lifted them into position for us )

      • Thank you for your service Barry.

        I really think assets such as these should be armed with more than a few AA Guns.

    • They have 2 Vulcan Phalanx CIWS & 2 30mm bushmasters for asymetric defense. Probably several miniguns too. That’s pretty standard for RFA replenishers.

  1. Have these got space on deck for a couple of containers as that could increase the storage space quite a bit. They could also kit out the containers with medical equipment and have them as drop-in hospitals for disaster zones.

  2. This four-tanker deal is one of the bright spots of recent procurement history. According to Wikipedia (I know, I know) the armament is two phalanx CIWS and two 30mm cannons. I don’t know when these weapons are to be fitted.

  3. For me these are a good example of how we should use our equipment budget co-operatively. The S.Koreans get to build them. Which is their strength and we supply them with marine engines and other kit which are our strengths. Everyone benefits and no one gets screwed over.

    • These should have been built in Britain, they are decent size ships and they would have been invaluable for British shipbuilding. British shipbuilding gets screwed over by our own navy. If we take this approach on everything we will have zero industry left in Britain.

      • See my other post. You are not alone in your perception. But the culture you describe is deeply entrenched. Then EU was crowbarring us out of it….which was why the establishment mounted the ( successful) campaign to leave. Still, as they say in the Navy, love your fears. Brexit here we come…Geronimo.

        • Most of the establishment wanted Remain (Prime Minister, Chancellor, most political parties, most media, universities, Unions, etc, etc).

          • Then why don’t they resign as a matter of conscience. Answer because they are more interested in their own career than the health of the country.

          • Paul P – You missed the passing into oblivion of Cameron, Osborne and others? The Establishment itself is a many tentacled monster that pervades every aspect of society, broadcasting, commerce and Government. Go look at who was supporting the ‘Remain’ camp and then look at who are still fighting that campaign now. And it isn’t party oriented so don’t blame the Tories. The Establishment cannot accept defeat so now we are getting ‘Project Fear II’, continual peddling of negative stories and when there is a brilliant story its ‘Despite Brexit’. Just today we find that nett migration has fallen for the first time by over 100,000 (its still 230,000 a year though) and the spin merchants are already at it saying its a catastrophe. Well it is for large Corporates who prefer making large profits from an endless supply of cheap labour, made cheaper by Tax Credits, than invest in new machinery, train up their staff and raise productivity. And who looks after large Corporates? Who created this Tax supported low wage economy? The Establishment to suit their needs not ours.

    • The only reason British shipyards didn’t bid for them is because they have waged a deliberate and organized war against British heavy industry for decades. They DELIBERATELY closed big shipyards down (and train making factories down) so they would have an excuse to give orders away. This was their plan all along.

      They should have made sure we had the capacity ahead of time (Like the Canadians, etc.), but like I say they WANTED this.

      I wonder what “strong encouragement” (from the n.s.s.) has been given to British shipbuilding to bid for the solid support ships, other than ZERO, because in spite of their lies they literally CANNOT WAIT to give the order to a foreign country like they do EVERY SINGLE TIME IN EVERY SINGLE FIELD.

      • Your view is extreme, but correct in my view. Short term profit taking takes precendence over longterm investment in relatinships, skills and dare I say it self respect. The contrast with France say could not be greater. By systematically investing in skills development and acquisition they now control Airbus, MBDA, Eurocopter, DCNS, Dassault, the UK water industry and Hinckley Point. Westland and Marconi are is Leonardo.
        The UK has fabulous engineering skills but is continually let down by what is frankly a greedy and selfish establishment culture.

        • Maybe that is one positive about Corbyn, I read he’s keen on rebuilding heavy industry and taking back control of critical infrastructure, something, gulp, I actually agree with.

          • Well, yes and no. Problem is as I read him, Corbyn is a recidivist socialist. He preaches the many not the few, but this is still a divisive view of society, Us versus Them. It is this conflict paradigm which is killing us. Well actually we are killing ourselves. The French government does not go to war with Dassault or DCNS. There is a relarionship of mutual trust which is not abused. Contrast that with the relationship berween the MOD and BAE.

    • barry – The mentality in the Civil Service is straight line Price comparison. Its the easy and risk aversion option. They look at ‘Price 1’ compare it to ‘Price 2’ and take the lowest. What they should be doing and what every private sector business does is look at a Cost comparison.

      I have no doubt bored people with this before but the simple fact is that every penny spent in a UK owned shipyard / train factory / wherever will get recycled back into the larger economy one way or another. Nett ‘cost’ to the UK is therefore nill while any taxpayer money spent in Korea stays there. Even just taking the 40%+ of labour costs alone that directly generates taxes and maintains local economies makes the straight line ‘Price’ comparison just wrong.

      If they removed the Labour content cost, or even the tax revenues produced, off any UK shipbuilder price then UK shipbuilders could compete. They seem to know the price of everything and the cost of nothing

  4. Saw this today in Portsmouth, great looking ship. With so few escorts these should be fitted with sea ceptor for extra protection or at the very least store some manpads on them

  5. Good news
    Frank is right. They are supposed to have 2x phalanx and a couple of ds30 guns.
    not sure if actually fitted with weapons yet or another example of “fitted for but not with”
    agree with the lack of escorts sea ceptor artisan radar and a small combat information centre is needed on these vessels. They are easily large enough (like our QE carriers) to fit seaceptor

    • Mr Bell.

      While I agree with much that you say I always try to introduce a little realism into things.

      There is no chance these will get Sea Ceptor or Artisan radars! We have a funding issue remember.

      The original plans for the Fort class had VLS Seawolf included but never realised and that was in the Cold War. No chance now.

      I’m content if they get CIWS to go with the usual light guns.

      • Thats new to me
        I joined the Fort Grange in the builders yard at Greenock and went through all the builders trails (where incidently we had to go back into dry dock to get all the cracks sorted)
        Anyway i digress. I spent the next two years on her going to the Far East and what have you and i never heard any mention whatsoever about Seawolf
        The only time i ever saw Seawolf was when we replenished them to our ships at sea

        • Sorry Barry the Fort II class of ships, Fort Victoria and Fort George. There were going to be 6 once.

          Not the other Forts Grange and Austin.

          All planned to have 32 Cell VLS.

  6. Story I’ve heard is that they get fitted with CIWS, and the RN crew to operate them, if going to a high risk region such as the Persian Gulf, but not for low risk environments. While this seems a sensible use of resources, and assists in promoting the useful non-military status, it leaves the ships exposed if trouble flares up quickly.

  7. They might be RFA but they are 2nd in size only to the carrier’s and a core asset that should have proper protection plenty of room, with the limited vessels we have “distributed lethality” should be priority. How with the budget we have is the navy so under armed? 2k ton opv with a single crap gun! If the Russians can mount cruise missiles on a 900 ton dinghy we can do better surely?

  8. it seems the navy shares its phalanx between the vessels and only fits when needed. I am curious how many units we have and in the event of another navy style war, would we have enough units to cover any task force.

    • 20 something recalling an article I read in Desider.

      They bought a load when the T42’s were found to be seriously under armed ( nothing changes ) and fitted them with 2 x Phalanx.

      The newer batch 3 T22’s, carriers, Albions got Goalkeeper instead.


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