RFA Tidespring, the first of Royal Navy’s four 39,000 tonne Tide-class tankers, has moored at Cammell Laird in Birkenhead to start its inaugural docking period.
This is the ship’s first overhaul since it entered service in November 2017 after arriving from South Korea in April.
Its arrival to Birkenhead marks the start of two Through Life Support contracts that will see the UK shipyard and engineering company maintain nine vessels of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) over the next 10 years.
The UK defense ministry announced in October 2018 that Cammell Laird had been chosen to provide support to all four Tide class tankers – RFA Tidespring, RFA Tiderace, RFA Tidesurge and RFA Tideforce – following a competitive two-year tender process.
At the same time the company was awarded a second 10-year contract that will see it continue to provide support for the vessels RFA Fort Victoria, RFA Fort Austin, RFA Fort Rosalie, RFA Wave Knight and RFA Wave Ruler, which it has done since 2008.
Cammell Laird said winning the contracts will sustain more than 300 jobs at the company and across its supply chain, and create more than 100 apprenticeships.
RFA Tiderspring’s refit package will be carried out over the next four months involving survey work, and general repair and maintenance projects.
Tide class tankers are the newest addition to the RFA fleet, designed to supply the Royal Navy’s warships, including the two new Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers, with fuel and water while deployed on operations. They are as long as three jumbo jets lined up nose-to-tail, and can carry 19,000 meters cubed of fuel and 1,300 meters cubed of fresh water.
“The arrival of RFA Tidespring at Birkenhead signals the culmination of an extremely successful first 15 months at sea,” David Farmer, head of commercially supported shipping at the MOD’s procurement organisation, said. “Her initial deployments, including those alongside HMS Queen Elizabeth, have been marked by very positive feedback from RFA personnel – indeed, satisfaction with the Tide class has been growing appreciably since she entered service.”