Lady Boyce, the wife of former First Sea Lord and Chief of Defence Staff Admiral of the Fleet the Lord Boyce, has accepted the invitation to be the tanker’s sponsor – acting as “the embodiment of her spirit, forging a close relations with both the vessel and her crew” following every milestone in the ship’s life.
Lady Boyce is due to see her ship for the first time in the autumn of 2015 when the formal naming ceremony will take place at the DSME yard in Okpo-dong near the south-eastern tip of South Korea.
Construction of Tidespring began on June 24 with the head of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, Commodore Rob Dorey, performing the honours by getting steel cutting under way.
The tanker will be built in blocks and pieced together in dry dock over the winter.
After trials off Korea, the tanker, which is being built to a British design as part of a project to replace the RFA’s older tankers, will be brought to the UK to have more sensitive military equipment and communications systems installed ahead of entering service in 2016.
By the end of the decade, Tidespring and her three sisters – Tiderace, Tidesurge and Tideforce – will be the mainstay of operations by Royal Navy ships and task groups around the globe, in particular the carrier battle groups formed around HMS Queen Elizabeth and Prince of Wales.
The last tanker to bear the Tidespring name served the Royal Fleet Auxiliary for 30 years from 1962 until 1992 and saw action in Aden Withdrawal (1967-68) and Monrovia (1990).
Most notably in 1982, however, she found herself in harm’s way supporting the task force sent to liberate the Falklands.
In addition to providing fuel for Royal Navy vessels, the tanker was home to a company of Royal Marines commandos during the recapture of South Georgia.
Those actions helped the ship earn the Tidespring name its first battle honour.
The board carrying it, plus the ship’s badge, was kept when the tanker was paid off in the early 1990s and after making the 6,000-mile journey from Britain to South Korea is ready to enjoy pride of place on the new ship.
Press Release, September 03, 2014; Image: UK Navy