RFA Tideforce Arrives In Falmouth Ahead Of Entering Service

The fourth and last Tide-class tanker has arrived in Cornwall for customisation.

The 39,000-tonne vessel will deliver fuel and water to Royal Navy ships on operations all over the world (Picture: Ministry of Defence).

The fourth and last Tide-class tanker has arrived in Falmouth for customisation.

The 39,000-tonne vessel, which will deliver fuel and water to Royal Navy ships on operations all over the world, follows her sister ships Tidespring, Tiderace and Tidesurge into the A&P Falmouth yard, where work to customise the fleet ahead of operational service is sustaining 300 jobs.

With the homecoming voyage complete, all four of the tankers have now arrived safely in the UK, marking the end of a crucial phase of the fleet’s delivery programme.

Stuart Andrew MP, Minister for Defence Procurement, said:

"Tideforce’s arrival completes our new tanker fleet, ensuring our warships can continue their essential work across the globe.

"Hundreds of Cornwall workers will now install state-of-the-art systems before she joins her sister ships on operations next year.

"Providing everything from a floating helipad, to a refuelling vessel for our brand-new aircraft carriers, we are delivering the equipment our Armed Forces need to combat illegal trade, safeguard our waters and promote peace throughout the world.

Each of the Tide-class ships is as long as three jumbo jets and has a flight deck large enough for a Chinook helicopter to land on.

Like the rest of the fleet, Tideforce is perfectly equipped to refuel Royal Navy warships, including the two new Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers, in hostile environments and challenging sea conditions.

HMS Queen Elizabeth Refueling RFA Tidespring
HMS Queen Elizabeth refueling at sea with RFA Tidespring, the first of the Tide-class tankers, last June (Picture: Royal Navy).

Customisation work, including the installation of communications equipment and defensive systems, is sustaining hundreds of jobs in A&P Falmouth, while the wider Tide class programme is sustaining further jobs at 26 other companies throughout the UK.

Sir Simon Bollom, CEO of Defence Equipment and Support, the Ministry of Defence’s procurement agency, said:

"Defence Equipment and Support personnel will continue to work closely with industry to ensure Tideforce and her sister ships are fully supported once they come into service.

"The delivery of the fleet within budget and to a challenging schedule has been a significant undertaking which has been expertly delivered by the dedicated team at DE&S."

RFA Tidespring, Tidesurge, Tiderace and Tideforce was built in South Korea by Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering under a contract worth £450m.

The lead vessel of the class, RFA Tidespring, is already in service and is now supporting operations and training around the UK.

RFA Tiderace is due to join RFA Tidespring in September.

RFA Tidesurge has now completed her customisation programme and is about to embark on Capability Assessment Trials.

Head of Service for the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, Commodore Duncan Lamb RFA, said:

"The arrival of RFA Tideforce, the fourth ship of the class, into the UK is a significant and tangible milestone towards reaching full operating capability.

"These four new versatile state-of-the-art Tide class ships will enable the RFA to continue to provide first-class global support to a first class Royal Navy for the foreseeable future."

Work to customise Tideforce is expected to take several months, with the ship then due to enter service in 2019.