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The second of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary’s new Tide-class support ships, RFA Tiderace, has arrived in Cornwall to begin a programme of fitting out.

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.

Like her sister ship RFA Tidespring, which arrived in April this year, the 39,000-tonne RFA Tiderace can carry up to 19,000 cubic metres of fuel and 1,400 cubic metres of fresh water in support of Royal Navy operations all over the world.

She has been designed to support the new Queen Elizabeth Class Aircraft Carriers, the first of which, HMS Queen Elizabeth, arrived in Portsmouth last month.

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.

Sir Simon Bollom, Chief of Materiel (Ships) at Defence Equipment and Support, the MOD’s procurement organisation, said:

“Like her sister ship, RFA Tiderace will perform a crucial role in supporting the Royal Navy’s global mission in defence of the UK and her interests.

I am proud to welcome Tiderace and her crew to Falmouth as part of the continued successful delivery of the Tide Class programme and look forward to welcoming the final two ships in the class over the coming months.”

The Tide Class has a flight deck able to accommodate the large Chinook helicopter and offer significant improvements over previous RFA tankers such as double hulls and greater environmental protection measures.

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. However she arrived later than planned.

Defence procurement minister Harriett Baldwin earlier blamed “delays in finalising elements of electrical design and the installation of Multi-Cable Transit insulation in accordance with new legislative regulations” which have now been resolved.

The UK still expects to have all four tankers delivered by 2018.

38 COMMENTS

  1. Lovely ship and no doubt she and her sister ships will do sterling service until the government of the day sells them off. That said I wonder why this article didn’t mention that all of them are been built in Korea.

    • You can’t help yourself, Farouk, can you? Welcome but a little dig at any potential government and why Korea? Probably because everybody knows.

      • but a little dig at any potential government
        So, you object to me complaining to the present Government (Note I have always voted Tory) selling off so many RN assets. I’m all for saving money, but the current crop of MPs continue to be pound foolish and penny shy when it comes to defence. I mean little tiny Israel doesn’t do bad regards defence, could that be as its MPs actually care about the country, unlike ours who prefer to defend those who hate us the most. Now are you going to deny that this Government has form for fire sales:
        Be it the RN,RAF, Army or even real estate (now the reason why I mention that is because wild life flourishes on military land, but not when civies take over). Whats the point of issuing bombastic statements about what fantastic equipment the UK has if all we are doing is selling them off)
        Now unlike the vast majority of MPs in the UK, I care about the UK. So spare me your sanctimonious prattle regards having a little dig. Now all I’ve seen with your many posts is criticism, criticism and criticism of anybody who doesn’t mirror you own views which are..well actually there isn’t any. Its a message board, its a forum to do just that, if all you can do is act like Ken Livingstone at a Jewish wedding, then why are you here?

        • Farouk,
          You keep attacking people, me included, almost raving at the cuts that this government has brought upon the Royal Navy and the reason I reply is that you are wrong, and now you say you vote Tory.
          CUTS: To my knowledge, to date, mostly prior to Michael Fallon, who you attack on a regular basis , the navy has disposed of 3 Trafalgar class nukes to be replaced by 3 Astutes: 6 Type 42’s to be replaced with 6 Type 45’s; Ark Royal and Illustrious, both 30 years old and Queen Elizabeth joining. That leaves a difference of 4 batch 3 Type 22’s, retired because of a completely inadequate AAW fit, maintained at huge cost. So NET LOSS in seven years is 4 frigates.

          • Really Geoffrey.

            The Astutes were orginally going to be called Trafalgar Batch 2’s, and began life in the late 80’s as one-for-one replacements for the 5 Swiftsure class submarines. Only later was it then decided that they would also replace the 7 Batch 1 Trafalgars, and as part of doing so, the Astute programme would be increased to 7no. So 12 subs replaced by 7. (So -5)

            Similar story with the Type 45. Originally it was meant to be a one for one replacement for the 12no. Type 42 destroyers, but Labour ran out of money, cut it back to 8 originally, then cancelled the programme at 6 by bringing forward what is now the Type 26 programme, this was back in 2008 or so. So 12 Type 42’s for 6 Type 45’s (thus another -6)

            The 2003 Defence Review also sold off 3 relatively young Type 23 frigates selling them to Chile, while the 4no. batch 3 Type 22 frigates were retired early without replacement during the disastrous 2010 review, from which we are still suffering. So 7 more frigates gone. (-7)

            If you also add to that the loss without replacement of a dozen or so minehunters, a Bay Class landing ship (sold to Australia), two Point Class strategic sealift ships, repair ship RFA Diligence (retired), the overall size of the fleet has fallen massively since 2000 – surely that cannot be in dispute ?

          • You keep attacking people, me included,

            Please be so kind as to point to any post other than the one above where I do just that.

          • How many 42s? You make it sound like the 45s are a one for one replacement. You need to look at your references again. Since the turn of the millennium the Royal Navy has been hollowed out. The real hole in your reasoning, particularly with this article in mind, is the cuts to the Royal Fleet Auxiliary.

            In the last 12 months Diligence, Gold Rover and Black Rover have been quietly decommissioned, you can see them alongside in Portsmouth or up the creek today if you care to go and look. HMS Ocean is demonstrating her usefulness as we speak saving lives and brining relief to those in peril, but this is her last voyage, she will be decommissioned on her return with no replacement considered necessary, the role to be filled by one of the 2 new aircraft carriers that have replaced 3, admittedly less able, carriers. Now I’m no genius, but 2 carriers doing the job of 5 platforms when one is almost certainly going to be alongside and in refit at any given time doesn’t go. I can already hear you saying 5, the man is a fool and can’t do simple maths. The carriers when doing amphibious operations will also have to cover the role of whichever LPD is currently mothballed too. So just with the carriers in mind we have a choice of amphibious or carrier strike ability but not both.

            My bad, the OPVs, I forgot about the OPVs. Actually I didn’t, initially it was thought we would retain the old River class in addition to the B2s, however, they will be retired after 10 years in service where they have been reliable. BAe’s new B2s, ask them how good Forth is and what is wrong with her!

            T26, great ships I’m sure, though I’m not sure about BAe building them and only 8. I get that we only bought 8 sonar sets and that these are being moved over on a one for one basis, but these new Frigates are really actually big destroyers and as a hull form could do so much more. If we’re lucky we’ll end up with all 8 and maybe be able to put 2 or maybe 3 to sea at any one time.

            Stop using Wiki and the Daily Mail as your references and wake up to the fact that the Royal Navy is a shell with not enough ships, aircraft (didn’t even go there), manpower (nor there) or weapons (now I’m depressed).

  2. Good news for the land of my fathers. Falmouth… good facilities, good people and a lovely town and not just for the pasties!

  3. These really are great value and fantastic ships, well done to all involved both here and in South Korea.

    If the UK yards can build to the same quality for the same/similar price then I am all for it, if not then really you can’t keep going on about it.

    Lets have another 4 of these and then 8 of a Joint Support Ship to replace all of the amphibs and SSS over the next 25 years (1 every 2 years in a British yard for under £200m each) – otherwise back to Korea and get them built over the next 15 years (4 every 5 years).

    • The UK yards have got to want to build them. I gather than none actually bid for the work on building these ships. No idea why

      • Koreans far too competitive I’m afraid David.

        Its £350m for all 4 – but then they have to come back and have more bespoke work done on them.

        SK are the world leader at big ships – but lessons can and should be learned by the UK – I think they can be built here but people will need to sharpen their pencils and get a grip on work flow and working practices.

        It would be nice if we could do them here thats for sure

        • Pacman27 – Sadly you are accurate in all you say. The only thing that I feel needs better explanation by the MoD is do they reduce the nett economic benefit of building here compared to buying abroad when looking at a ‘British’ price? From some brief research apparently some 40% is labour costs. Now that would all be recycled through the local and UK economy while nothing we pay to, say, South Korea does.

          One could therefore argue British yards could be some 40% more expensive and still give the same nett ‘cost’ to the UK taxpayer.

          • One thing the Korean’s have is scale – something we deny our own yards with small bitty orders. Drives me dotty for a maritime nation.

      • The job was only 4 ships. Never mind that the RN + RFA have 20 or so big ships each lasting 30 years or so. The last UK yard to accept a 4 ship job (Bay Class LSL) was Swan Hunter on the Tyne and look what happened to them. UK Gov mess up by not thinking long term.

        Those 20 ships are of 10 different designs but they all just carry stuff. We just need one hull design with configurable spaces, one yard and one new big ship every 18 months. Ruthless economies of scale, permanant jobs and a stable fleet size.

    • These vessels should have been built in the UK as not only can they build them to the same standard but the skills base will increase in ship building, plus they can then employ apprentices. Plus the people employed will be paying their NHS contributions and tax. So, they may seem cheap to start with but with a more intense review they are no cheaper than can be built in the UK.

      • I agree with dan Governments Not thinking of Long term benefits to the Uk..MOD..etc Short sighted!..Buffoons running the show..And it doesn,t matter which gov are in charge as..Same Civil servants simple!

  4. What’s happened to Tidespring though? The last I saw of her was in dry dock having weapons fitted and I think the secret paint applied. I love to see a picture and news re her progress so far.

  5. It does look like it’s all coming together nicely, and though I read the “ideal navy” comments with interest, there is a limit to the budget available. Within the current planned program I’d like to see the F35-B buddy refuelling come on, and two more Astutes added to the program though it’s probably too late for that already.

    Apart from that? Replacements for Ocean, Albion and Bulwark to be planned, perhaps one class of large deck amphib with 4 in class, all capable of carrying F35-B and the usual helicopters. Oh, and investigation of stealth missile boats similar to the Skjold, and perhaps with a “carrier” ship to take them (in pairs maybe) to wherever they’re needed with their limited range and defendability. Unless a larg deck amphib could be designed to take one or two. Probably a bit pie in the sky.

  6. With further defence cuts in the near future, any talk of expanding the current fleet in nonsense.

    Painful truth is always better than comfortable lies.

      • Better a realistic than a fantasist, the problem with not having to face up to the reality of the situation is that when the manure finally hits the fan the pain suffered in terms of blood and treasure is far greater.

        • I’m staying the optimist Mike. For what it’s worth I think your probably right about the size of the fleet, although like yourself I can see the logic in the Type 26/ Type 31 mix with the later being the best design we can get’ Being the dreamer, though, I can always hope!

  7. Something I am both positive and realistic about is the potential tie up between Babcock and BMT to enter a joint bid for the t31e project.

    Reported yesterday by IHS janes

    • Fascinating news. It does seem the best pairing to be able to knock out the BAE designs. Steller Systems just looks too small a design house to give me confidence that Spartan has any significant depth beyond the brochure. Admittedly the other two clearly aren’t fully developed designs but Babcock’s resources and past experience and the fact that BMT have been picking away at Venator for a long time and have at least done hull testing makes me think those designs will be thought through in at least somewhat more detail.

      I see from the article (http://www.janes.com/article/74374/babcock-bmt-team-as-start-gun-fires-for-type-31e-programme) that “it is understood that Babcock will lead the bid”. Presumably that makes it very likely that Arrowhead will be the basis for the design but who knows, that’s not a given I suppose. In any event, two sets of very capable designers working in partnership must surely increase the chances of a genuinely good design coming out of it.

    • Not so sure about this tie-up as it removes a layer of competitiveness in the bidding process. If price really is everything, then the more contenders the better.

  8. A lot is riding on Type 31e. If its £250m price and crewing size ( half that of Type 23) come in on spec we might see actual growth in frigate numbers. And if containerised remote vehicles like Camcopter, Camm and Arcims are mated with River 2 and if we retain River 1….
    A lot of ‘ifs’, but definitely not unreasonable to plan for respectable growth in RN presence and capability.

  9. The Astutes were orginally going to be called Trafalgar Batch 2’s, and began life in the late 80’s as one-for-one replacements for the 5 Swiftsure class submarines. Only later was it then decided that they would also replace the 7 Batch 1 Trafalgars, and as part of doing so, the Astute programme would be increased to 7no. So 12 subs replaced by 7. (So -5)

    Similar story with the Type 45. Originally it was meant to be a one for one replacement for the 12no. Type 42 destroyers, but Labour ran out of money, cut it back to 8 originally, then cancelled the programme at 6 by bringing forward what is now the Type 26 programme, this was back in 2008 or so. So 12 Type 42’s for 6 Type 45’s (thus another -6)

    The 2003 Defence Review also sold off 3 relatively young Type 23 frigates selling them to Chile, while the 4no. batch 3 Type 22 frigates were retired early without replacement during the disastrous 2010 review, from which we are still suffering. So 7 more frigates gone. (-7)

    If you also add to that the loss without replacement of a dozen or so minehunters, a Bay Class landing ship (sold to Australia), two Point Class strategic sealift ships, repair ship RFA Diligence (retired), the overall size of the fleet has fallen massively since 2000 – surely that cannot be in dispute ?

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