In fine weather off the South Coast of England on the 3rd of May, three RFA Vessels conducted various serials to trial new ships and their equipment intended to support the Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers.
All four of the Tide class tankers are now in service and the RFA is developing its capabilities in preparation for supplying the logistic demands of the aircraft carriers that are heavier than the service has been used to. Seen sailing in formation, RFA Tidesurge, Tideforce and Fort Victoria are an impressive sight and a reminder of the large and modern replenishment ships the RFA now possess. During a series of evolutions, RFA Tideforce completed an abeam RAS trial and became the first of the class to pass all 3 commodities, F76 (Marine Diesel) F44 (Aviation fuel) and water from each of the 3 abeam Rigs.
Fort Vic is back
RFA Fort Victoria completed a £44 Million refit in Cammel Laird in November 2018 on time and on budget. The work is intended to keep her in service until 2025 when she will supposedly be replaced by one of the new First Fleet Solid Support Ships. 180 tonnes of steel were used to create a double bottom for the oil tanks intended to reduce the amount of fuel that could leak in the unlikely event the outer hull is breached. To avoid the expense of removing the ship’s port and starboard wing cargo tanks, they were converted to hold ballast water. This entailed the removal of fuel oil pipes and the installation of ballast pipework and new tank calibration equipment. The wing tanks were shot-blasted and painted and in conjunction, major modifications were made in the cargo pump room. Fort Vic is now compliant with MARPOL anti-pollution regulations for oil tankers, although her fuel capacity has been considerably reduced.
The bridge has been upgraded with modern navigation and ship control technology. This involved the complete removal of all navigational equipment, and machinery control and surveillance (MCAS) outstations, including all electrical cables. New decking was laid, and either new or refurbished equipment installed. The refrigerated cargo holds were given a major refurbishment, as was the ship’s galley. The ship’s entire hot and cold domestic freshwater system was removed and replaced with a total length of approximately 3.5 km of non-ferrous pipework. The refit also saw RFA Fort Victoria’s forward sewage plant upgraded.
The ship’s RAS decks and RAS winch decks were also refurbished and completely repainted, while the RAS winch cable trays were replaced and all electrical cabling, including high voltage cabling, inspected. The Hudson Reel cargo pipework was replaced, and a new Fast Rescue Craft davit installed to enable the launch and recovery of Pacific 24 rescue boats. Routine upkeep and refurbishment work was also undertaken, including overhauls of the main engines and generators, inspections, surveys, and an overhaul of ancillary and auxiliary equipment.
Fort Vic and has been regenerating ready to rejoin the fleet on active service. Although Fort Vic can provide fuel oil to other vessels, her primary role is the transfer of food and ammunition. During the trials, she successfully proved her heavy jackstay rig which has been modified to take greater loads and cope with the higher decks of the aircraft carriers.
Presumably the tank conversion can be quickly reversed in time of war?
Article in the telegraph suggests that the silly idea of picking an arbitrary price of £250 million and then trying to build a ship for that much money has been abandoned.Its mostly behind a paywall, anyone read the whole thing?
There is a limited piece in the Financial Times. See the below link:
From the FTs view the program is not being scrapped, but the £250m price point is. It seems industry is finding it impossible to meet the criteria and still produce a ship that can fight and more importantly sustain damage.
Does this mean that if the price is increased the five ships will be dropped to four?
Funny that in the first week of a SoS who has actually been to sea, the MoD are suddenly more interested in T31e survivability…
All those bigging up Williamson should remember how invested he became in T31e, regardless of what was actually achievable.
Have the Phalanx and 30mm been fitted and will they carry a helicopter as routine… ?
A great sight to behold.
One thing noticed… The photo above the caption “The baby of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary – RFA Tideforce prepares to conduct her first RAS. (Photo: Susan Cloggie-Holden)” is actually showing RFA Tidesurge
The world’s most expensive oil tankers.
Where do u get that? U do realise the tides were a bargain don’t you? Also They are fitted with far more millitray grade gear than an oil tanker…..
In what way wre they a bargin at 550 million quid just for the shipbuild bit then 160 million gross for the protected UK bit? Military grade but not military ships such as the German French Dutch or Italian ships!
Do u know how much RFA ships cost these days? And One 8,000 ton destroyer cost 1 billion, 4 tide tankers for 5/600 million is a bargain. They have all the gear for many different tasks and are 38,000 ton each. We will be building 2 new solid suport ships soon for 1 billion.
Yes, we will be building within the UK three Solid Support Ships for 1 billion pounds. Taken a modest 30% tax back, the 4 Tides cost back in 2012-15 around 950 million pounds gross. So you are saying the Tides are comaprable to warships. What is all this gear? Don’t confuse tonnage to price and cost. The 38,000 tons is full load too. They were no bargin. looking at it from every angle, it was quite the opposite.
I loved fort George, shame it was scrapped! They are great ships and would have been far better if the government would stop the “ built for but not installed” with our limited destroyers and frigates (governments choice) we should arm some RFA ships with anti air missile like the fort were meant to have. Then we could protect our carrier battle group even better. One drone swarm atack and our destroyers would be out of missiles… another dam joke…. they are fitted for mk41 silos but didn’t get them…..
Could anyone explain the freshwater tanks bit? Do ships not all have desalination plants on board? Is that not a standard fit these days?
I was wondering the very same thing
Demand for FW will always outstrip the ability to make FW, Washing machines, showers and toilets run 24 hrs a day…and thats just with the basic RFA/RN crew. Add in extra crew for embarked flight and watch the usage skyrocket.
Also, Ships are not allowed to make FW within so many miles of land (Think it’s 6 mile limit) so not always an option.
Fresh water was a big problem in 82, due to some of the STUFT (e.g. Cargo ships and Ferries) not having any desalination plant as they normally rely on shore supply & tanks. This arrangement is sufficient for their normal trade but not for extended time at sea.
Many RN & RFAs built since then have oversized desalination plants to allow RAS to and from other vessels. It’s also very useful for HADR ops to provide fresh water to shore when local supplies have failed.