The British Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) Tide-class replenishment tanker RFA Tidespring is set to undergo its first maintenance period at shipyard and engineering company Cammell Laird’s facility in Birkenhead.

The 39,000t RFA Tidespring is the first of nine RFA vessels to arrive at the yard for maintenance over the next ten years under two contracts with the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

In October last year, the company won a contract to provide support for all four Tide-class tankers, Tidespring, Tiderace, Tidesurge and Tideforce, after a competitive tender process.

Cammell Laird also secured a ten-year extension for a support contract for the vessels RFA Fort Victoria, RFA Fort Austin, RFA Fort Rosalie, RFA Wave Knight and RFA Wave Ruler.

The contracts are expected to sustain more than 300 jobs at the company and across its supply chain, as well as lead to the creation of more than 100 apprentice roles.

Over the next four months, Cammell Laird will undertake survey work, and general repair and maintenance projects as part of the RFA Tiderspring’s refit package.

“The arrival of RFA Tidespring at Birkenhead signals the culmination of an extremely successful first 15 months at sea.”

Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) Commercially Supported Shipping head David Farmer said: “The arrival of RFA Tidespring at Birkenhead signals the culmination of an extremely successful first 15 months at sea.

“With support for the class underway through the future in-service support agreement we now look forward to Tidesurge and Tideforce, the final two ships in the fleet, entering service in the coming months.”

The vessel entered service in November 2017. It is the first of the Royal Navy’s Tide-class tankers, which can carry 19,000m³ of fuel and 1,300m³ of freshwater. Last month, the Royal Navy commissioned the Tidesurge, the third ship of the class.

Cammell Laird MoD programme director John Kennedy said: “It was fantastic to secure work for the ships we’ve been responsible for since 2008, and the icing on the cake was also winning the Tide-class tankers contract.

“The previous RFA contract serves as a fantastic foundation and it’s absolutely our intent to continue delivering continuous improvement, providing value for money for the UK taxpayer and maximising the availability of these ships for the RFA.”