RFA Tidespring (middle) carrying out a fuel replenishment at sea during the Carrier Strike Group 21 deployment (Picture: Royal Navy).
CSG21

CSG21: First ship returns home to UK after seven months deployed

RFA Tidespring filled up ships with the equivalent of 23 Olympic-sized swimming pools of fuel - nearly 58 million litres in total.

RFA Tidespring (middle) carrying out a fuel replenishment at sea during the Carrier Strike Group 21 deployment (Picture: Royal Navy).

A tanker, which kept HMS Queen Elizabeth and her escort warships fuelled, has returned to the UK from the Carrier Strike Group 21 (CSG21) deployment.

RFA Tidespring is the first of the UK Carrier Strike Group ships to return to Britain, sailing into Portland, Dorset, on Thursday after more than seven months deployed.

Tidespring, along with sister ship RFA Fort Victoria, kept nine ships, one submarine, 32 aircraft and more than 3,700 personnel supplied with everything from fuel to food during the 49,000 nautical-mile mission. 

The ship carried out an impressive 111 replenishment at sea tasks - equivalent to one every two days while on the deployment.

As well as UK vessels, RFA Tidespring also resupplied ships from Canada, Denmark, France, India, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, South Korea and the US.

Watch: RFA Tidespring refuels HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Defender simultaneously during the deployment.

Captain Karl Woodfield, RFA Tidespring’s Commanding Officer, said "the ship's company are hugely proud of what they have achieved" on the CSG21 deployment.

"I am particularly proud of my ship's company which includes RFA, Royal Marines and Royal Navy personnel who have worked tirelessly during a global pandemic to deliver operational success," he said.

"We have been in the vanguard of ships which has made the inaugural Carrier Strike Group global deployment a success. 

"A brilliant sustained effort by my ship's company."

RFA Tidespring travelled 43,136 nautical miles during her mission, having departed the UK in May.

Watch: HMS Queen Elizabeth - Below decks on an aircraft carrier.

She spent 176 days attached to the Carrier Strike Group, spending 136 days at sea.

The ship also completed exercises with NATO and allied nations in UK waters, the Mediterranean, Arabian Sea, Indian Ocean, Pacific Ocean, South China Sea, Philippine Sea, East China Sea and Yellow Sea.

RFA Tidespring filled up ships with the equivalent of 23 Olympic-sized swimming pools of fuel, nearly 58 million litres in total, as well as supplying more than 14 million litres of aviation fuel.

Tidespring ticked off a number of milestones for her ship's class.

She became the first Tide-class to transit the Suez Canal, to deploy East of Suez and operationally to the Indo-Pacific, plus the first to sail in the Southern Hemisphere.