Royal Navy’s HMS Queen Elizabeth gets “official tug”

Photo: Serco

SD Tempest, a tug operated by Serco, will become the “official tug” of the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth once she arrives at Her Majesty’s Naval Base (HMNB) Portsmouth this year.

SD Tempest, named in late May, has been specifically procured to support the arrival of HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales, which are the largest warships to ever be constructed for the Royal Navy.

SD Tempest is the 31st vessel to be built for Serco by Damen Shipyards. She sailed into her home port of Portsmouth for the first time on 22nd February 2017. Since then, she has since completed a series of operational trials, completed crew familiarisation and is now completely ready to support the Queen Elizabeth Class carriers.

Clare Hinton, wife of SD Tempest’s Master, Rob Hinton, ‘christened’ SD Tempest by smashing a champagne bottle across the bows of the ship in the traditional manner.

Based on the Damen ART design, Tempest features a patented RotorTug® propulsion system consisting of three azimuthing thrusters. Serco has also specified a number of modifications to the standard Robert Allan design to enable her to support the huge aircraft carriers. These include a double drum render /recovery aft winch for redundancy and a foldable mast for safe working under the flight deck overhang.

Furthermore, like the previously built tugs for Serco, Damen is fitting the 32.9-metre long tug with grey fendering to match the livery of Royal Navy vessels, thus preventing marking of the hulls. They will also be installing controllable pitch propellers instead of the usual fixed pitch propellers found on other ART 80-32 vessels.

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