Royal Navy support fleet expands with dedication ceremony for RFA Tidesurge

A new Tide class tanker has been welcomed by the Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) after a special dedication ceremony.

RFA Tidesurge is the third of four such vessels built in South Korea and it arrived in the UK last March for customisation work at Falmouth, Cornwall.

The double-hulled state-of-the-art ship is specifically designed to provide support to the Royal Navy’s Queen Elizabeth carriers and has a flight deck which can accept all UK maritime helicopters.

Captain Miles Lewis welcomed Tidesurge at a ceremony on the ship, docked at Greenock Ocean Terminal, and paid tribute to the early foundations of a relationship it is building with the Inverclyde town.

He said: “It’s an absolutely proud and wonderful day, and especially to be holding it here close to our affiliated Sea Cadet unit who have renamed themselves to TS Tidesurge. It’s really special for us – and we’ve now adopted the Inverclyde tartan as our formal official tartan of the ship.

“There’s a buzz of excitement, we’ve got quite a few locals as well which is really good. Most of our guys have made all the food, the cake’s been made in-house as well and they really did dig out and I’m really proud of my team.

“Life in the RFA is wide, varied and numerous and we go pretty much everywhere. One day we could be replenishing, the next day we could be providing support ashore, or perhaps the next day on passage or up here doing refuelling operations.

“The crew get behind it, support me and the output of the ship and the service as well.”

  • 201 metres in length, 29m breadth and draught of 10.4m

  • 39,000 tonnes

  • Can carry 19,000 cubic metres of issuable fuel (an average road tanker carries 20-40 cubic metres)

  • 75-85 RFA crew members aboard

Tidesurge is 201 metres in length with a 29m breadth and draught of 10.4m, with the ability to carry 19,000 cubic metres of fuel.

It follows its sister ships Tidespring and Tiderace into service, with the fourth vessel, Tideforce, due to become operational later this year.

The quartet form part of the UK Government’s £179 billion plan to support the Armed Forces.

Capt Lewis, who joined the service in 1989, added: “When I joined, our predecessor the Gold Rover was one of the first ships I went on and it’s nice to see the capability, improvement, meeting the new legislations.

“We’ve changed dramatically in just under 30 years.”

Commodore Duncan Lamb, head of the RFA service, praised the work that had gone into the ship and how it plays a part of the new fleet.

He said: “I’m very privileged as a commodore who’s already got two of these ships into service, and we’ve got one to go. It’s a suite of four ships that will guard the future global reach of the Royal Navy for the many years to come.

“The first ship of the group, Tidespring, has spent the last 12 months on operations in the North Atlantic where she’s been refuelling a whole host of warships. We’re quite confident in the product we’ve got and its ability to support more than just the Queen Elizabeth.

“I think (the crew) are genuinely excited and they’re proud, as they should be, to get the ship to this point in its journey into service. They’ve done a heck of a lot of hard work to get the ship looking the way it is today.

“Just 18 months ago the ship was still being built and we had yet to take delivery of it… it’s a real tribute to the hard work.”