The UK’s Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) has accepted the Tide-class replenishment tanker RFA Tidespring into its operational fleet.
RFA Tidespring is one of four tanker units currently scheduled to be purpose-built for use by the British RFA.
The 37,000t vessel recently arrived at the Royal Navy’s HM Naval Base Portsmouth in preparation for the ship’s official acceptance into operational service with the RFA.
The tanker is expected to be used to deliver fuel, food and stores to Royal Navy warships deployed worldwide.
RFA Tidespring is the first-of-class of the RFA’s new Military Afloat Reach and Sustainability (MARS) tankers.
The vessel is a flexible, double-hulled tanker that has been designed to provide major future support to the Royal Navy’s newest Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers.
Its three sister ships are named Tiderace, Tidesurge and Tideforce respectively.
RFA Service head commodore Duncan Lamb said: “Tidespring’s arrival into the RFA today is an exciting milestone in the history of the RFA.
“She is a tangible demonstration of the success of the MARS Tanker project, which is delivering first-class global support for a first-class global Royal Navy.”
The Tide-class ships are being built to replace the RFA’s traditional single-hulled vessels.
They are significantly larger than their predecessors and will be capable of operating Chinook, Merlin or Wildcat helicopters from their flight decks.
In addition, the tankers will be capable of carrying out a wide range of maritime operations such as constabulary patrols, policing shipping lanes and humanitarian relief.
They will also be used to provide support to Nato and other coalition allies.
A Merlin Mk2 helicopter previously landed on the deck of RFA Tidespring for the first time in October.