The British Royal Navy’s third Tide-class replenishment tanker RFA Tidesurge is carrying out launch and land trials with the CH-47 Chinook heavy-lift helicopter.
The fleet of four Tide-class vessels have been designed specifically to provide fuel and other supplies to the Royal Navy’s two newest Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers, HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales.
Conducted off Portsmouth and in the Royal Navy’s South Coast exercise areas, the current trials demonstrate the additional varied capabilities of the £113m worth tankers.
These series of tests will help to write the operators’ manual for the Tide-class vessels, enabling the entire fleet to operate Chinook helicopters on the front line.
RFA Tidesurge commanding officer captain Miles Lewis said: “This is another step on the journey into service.
“RFA Tidesurge’s officers and crew are now looking forward and ahead to the service of dedication and being welcomed into the RFA flotilla family.”
With the use of the Chinook aircraft, the tanker will be able to carry heavier loads such as humanitarian aid or additional troops of up to 55 with their kits.
In addition, the 39,000t ships have the capability to be deployed independently, or with Royal Navy / Royal Marine units on-board.
The other three vessels of the class include RFA Tidespring, RFA Tiderace, and RFA Tideforce. Currently, the class’s lead vessel is supplying hundreds of tonnes of fuel to the British aircraft carrier.
These helicopters are being operated by a specialist team from the MoD’s home of aviation testing and trials at Boscombe Down.
With completion of the tests, RFA Tidesurge will continue its trials and training in order to be ready to join RFA Tidespring and RFA Tiderace on operations.