RFA Tideforce – the last of four new Tide class tankers – has joined the fleet.

RFA Tideforce will now join her sister ships Tidespring, Tiderace and Tidesurge in providing fuel at sea to Royal Navy, NATO and allied warships, as well as other supplies and fresh water when required.

According to a news release, the service at Portland was attended by the tanker’s sponsor Lady Sarah Messenger and her Royal Marine husband, former Vice Chief of Defence Staff General Sir Gordon Messenger.

Fleet Commander Admiral hailed the advent of the fourth and final ship in the class in a release, where he is quoted as saying:

“This is the next chapter in the regeneration of our Fleet. The Royal Fleet Auxiliary are a critical part of our Fleet and I look forward to a new era of carrier power projection.”

Each of the four 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 cars.

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.

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Mike Saul

I know many people complained that the ships were not built in the UK.

Despite no UK shipyard bidding for the contract.

But the project has been a great commercial success for the UK MOD, 4 state of the art fleet tankers for around £450m a third of which was spent in the UK.


According to Wikipedia the order was placed in Feb 2012 so 7.5 years from order placed to 156,000 tons of ships delivered and in the fleet. Not exactly liberty-ship-building speed and admittedly ton-for-ton far simpler than a frigate build, but I suspect it’s still going to be a pretty stark contrast to the build speed that we’re going to see, in fact are already seeing, on T26. I really would like to see some of this promised Treasury post-Brexit economic stimulus going to ramping up (accelerating and/or expanding) the RN & RFA shipbuilding programs and I hope that this time… Read more »

Mike Saul

We need to expedite the T31 project and start building them as soon as possible.

Apparently the money will be there so what’s the delay?


What’s the delay? I’m guessing the delay is HMG/MoD making up its mind on the design. We’ve seen this story played out so many times before with other defence procurements for next-gen stuff. Hopefully this T31 delay is more dotting the “i”s and crossing the “t”s and wont generate the massive flip-flops, u-turns, back-to-the-drawing-board etc stuff that we’ve seen in other projects in the past.

Mike Saul

There is an urgent operational for affordable and capable platforms as can be seen in the Arabian Gulf.

If it was me I would expedite the T31 project and starting building now.

We have the capacity and now we have the money.

Which is the low risk project?

Probably the Danish design. Start now deliver within 2 years?


It’s only costing a bilion odd! That’s pennys for government, one type 26! Or astute! Let’s get 10 for that bargain price.


Dam right let’s pick a ship and commit to build 10, god knows we need them. Leave 26, 45 for high end escort and the like.

Rob N

I suspect a lot of the slow builds and lack of actual ordering is down to HM Treasury trying not to spend any money…

The T26 could be built faster and the T31 could be ordered if HMG just got its act together.

I do not see ordering ships outside the UK as a bad thing. It might break BAEs virtual monopoly on ship building for the RN and get the UK better deals.



Yes great value for money, but if we had a rolling long term build programme for all large ships ie LPDs to tankers to SSS to amphib supports to carriers etc, would we have payed much more with the economies of scale and efficiencies that would be developed? On top of that would be the greater return of taxes to the treasury and reduction in benefits payed due to more people being employed. Then on top of that we would be in a position to secure foreign orders and yet more return to the treasury. But without this commitment, I… Read more »

Mike Saul

But we don’t have a viable shipbuilding strategy.

And if we did would be capable of delivering affordable and capable ships?

The evidence suggests not.


To do that you need the belief and orders from government. Come on man.


I agree. As alluded to above and in other comments I have made elsewhere I do think that domestic shipbuilding would be a good use of some of the post-Brexit stimulus money that the Chancellor has promised and that seems to keep getting bigger every morning when I read the news.

Doing some fix-ups and new building on forces accommodation wouldn’t be a bad use of the money either in terms of employment generation, apprenticeships for the house-building trades, and laying some better foundations (excuse the pun) to make recruitment and retention easier.


Rolling programmes make sense! They can help stabilise cost overruns whilst ensuring continuity of employment. Plus government can better budget its outgoings. A good example of this is the electrification of our railway lines. It has been stop go for decades with unrealistic planning and cost assessment. Germany has had a rolling programme of electrification (X kilometres per year) and has been relatively problem free compared to our network!


Germany’s the only G7 nation that has a surplus of money every year.,Trust the Germans to have that! But they do have good ideas and strategy’s, not all are great but some just work great.


One of the reasons they have a surplus every year is they dont pay their way in defence relying increasingly on others


They will be wishing they could build the FSS in Korea to.


No. 452 million that became 550 million pounds, plus 160 million pounds in the UK. 452 minus tax lost, say a low figure of 30% (most likely higher) means the shipbuild cost was 645 million pounds plus 120 million pounds (after tax) from the UK content. Total crap thing to do in allowing these ships to be built abroad and take so long to come to service. It took 5 years for the Waves and ton per ton the Waves are cheaper (taking inflation into account)! About 20-22% was UK content.

Mike Saul

I don’t recognize those figures you are using.

The only other bidder for the contract was a European company, which offered to build one ship in the UK and three in Italy. They wanted over £1bn.

I fully appreciate their are benefits to building in the UK, but it has to be competitive.

The MOD budget is not a job creation scheme for UK industry it’s a finite amount of money that needs to be spent wisely.


Wrong. I don’t recognize the £1 Billion figure for the tankers either, it was around the late £600 Million figure https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2105670/MoD-rejected-offer-build-Navys-tankers-Britain.html. Britain lost out on any tax back on these ships. If we say the UK lost 35% on the tax back, you divide 452 Million pounds (just for the shipbuild bit) by 65, then mutiply by 100, that give you a true gross cost by south Korea of 695 million pounds gross. In the end they cost 550 Million pounds (found in a Save ther Royal navy article). So…846 million pounds and most likely higher if the full direct… Read more »


Miss Moneyspinner: Mr Prime Minimee, Harland and Wolff are Howling and Wailing that they are going bust.They demand we nationalism them and pay them for all eternity.

Prime Minimee: Did they they bid for the Spanking Tanker Ship project?

Miss Moneyspinner: No Sir.

Prime Minimee: ‘Nuff said then!


Probably because they owned by Fred Olsen, had a nich market interest and were in no positon to bid gfor them as they had been devasted in the past by decisions, including the scandalous qm2 contract.


As stated downward, £450m is just for the hull, and another £160m was used in UK, making it a £610m program. Then, yes I agree £610m for 4 hulls is cheap. But, I’m not sure it was VERY cheap or not. – What is the cost of Waves, corrected for inflation? – If the hull be built in UK with, say, £600m, how much will come back as tax? I understand, steel, engine, gears, and some other instruments are inported. How much came back as a tax, from Wave build program, is very important information, on which Treasury should be… Read more »


They should, we live in a digital data driven World so you cannot hide.


UK shipyards were not invited oe welcome to tender, why bid knowing you will be rejected by your own government? They were pushed out. It was well known well before contracts and tenders competiting that this was not for UK shipyards even though the benifits would be huge as shown by several universities and engineering bodies around the Country.

Rob Colli

About time! With the amount of retro-fit it has taken to get these four ships into service, surly they they must have cost more or as much as they would have done had they been built in the UK?


Fair bit of rust already….


My thoughts entirely, she hasn’t officially been tasked yet and already rusty?

Daniele Mandelli

OT, but reading in the DT that the army is forming a “6th Division” for cyber and intelligence warfare, with changes to 1st Division too.

Hope to see a more detailed article on this on UKDJ.

There is already the 77 Brigade for this stuff, so I suspect more smoke and mirrors rebranding from the MoD while everything is reported as “new”

The devil is in the detail.

Daniele Mandelli

Ha! I knew it. Force Troops Command renamed 6th Division.

Why oh why Mod? What’s the bloody point? Just like Strategic Command.

Let’s have proper improvements not rebranding!

David Flandry

The point is to put new signs on the doors, and pretend to have actually done something. Any more battalions, or any more tanks? No, but it seems like something is happening.


The concern must now be the cost of Brexit and the impact on other budgets. Billions of borrowed money which takes the country to its borrowing limits. Listening to Bill Cash MP on the radio, the spending pledges now add up to 29 Billion pounds. Defence wasn’t mentioned at all.


Yep, There will need to be far more money poured in to protect industry from the effects. That will essentially be subsidies not extra investment. On top of that the decrease in GDP will have a big effect on tax revenue. Basically I have no idea where the money is going to come from… The Governments own departments have estimated that the UK economy will be at least £30 billion worse off per year. Our schools need extra funding along with our police forces and NHS. The school for which I am a governor is one of the best financially… Read more »


To be fair the government has saved many tens of billions with all the cuts in the past 10 years so it could have been allot worse, in no way am I justifying the cuts! But some were inevitable and some were criminal!


Cuts were certainly necessary. It was they way that it was done that was the issue. Just asking managers to cut costs is always going to end up with those managers cutting costs that do not affect them… They should have hired troubleshooters to go in and tell the organisations what needs to be cut.

However they have not saved tens of billions, they have avoided paying out tens of billions. So that money that was cut is not hanging around in a bank account it has been reducing the amount our debts have been increasing.


Yes and even then we are still up from around £600 billion in 2006 to £2.2 trillion this year! If the economy doesn’t grow substantially in the next few years something has to give…… oh yeah, brexit.
Unless I’m missing something, we stand a high chance of being the next Italy with cuts far beyond our supposed years of austerity. The only other option is to raise taxes considerably but they just keep cutting them. Quite worrying really but I’m going to put my head back in the sand…


That’s rubbish, the only way it could of been worse is if we had the chuckle brothers in charge of our economy. And it was not just us that was hoodwinked into the austerity delusion, everyone was scared to become another Greece so replaced the fiscal stimulus that was started to stop the recession with fiscal austerity, encouraged by the IMF and ECB. And now nearly every economist and even the IMF who practically apologized a few years ago for giving the advice admitted that austerity was the wrong decision, especially for countries like us who borrow in our own… Read more »


Looking forward to first ceremonial leak


It’s not a Welsh ship.

Adrian Emberson

Rfa Fort Grange, looking to contact Charlie Vince

Adrian Emberson

Look ing for ship mate

Adrian Emberson

Looking for fellow crew