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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

New fleet of RFA tankers named

14 Nov 12

Four new Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) tankers, which will be bought as part of the Military Afloat Reach and Sustainability (MARS) programme, will be called the Tide Class.

The 37,000-tonne ships will come into service from 2016 to replace the RFA's single-hulled tankers, and will maintain the Royal Navy's dedicated bulk fuel replenishment at sea capabilities.

The 200-metre long tankers will also be able to carry helicopters and will support Royal Navy warships deployed around the world.

Head of the RFA, Commodore Bill Walworth, said:

"I am delighted that the MARS fleet tankers will be called the Tide Class.

"The original Tides were the first purpose-built fleet tankers to support aircraft carriers and were highly successful and popular ships.

"The new Tides promise to be better still. A large number of people have worked hard to get us to this point, with the ships on contract and the first to be delivered into service in 2016.

"Tidespring, Tiderace, Tidesurge and Tideforce, which is a new name, will be superb ships that will reflect the successful past and a confident future for the RFA service."

The ships will be built by Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering to a design provided by UK company BMT Defence Services.

In addition, UK companies will benefit from up to £150m of associated spending on key equipment, systems, design and support services, and on the customisation and trials package which will take place in the UK once the ships have been built.

The original Tide Class fleet tankers served in the RFA from 1954 until 1991, operating worldwide in support of numerous operations and exercises.

Developed using the lessons of the Pacific Campaign in the Second World War, these versatile ships were the first purpose-designed replenishment tankers for the RFA.

Carrying bulk fuels, oil and fresh water they replenished aircraft carriers and warships, both British and Allied, enabling task groups to remain at sea for extended periods:

• Tidespring - the original Tidespring was awarded a battle honour in 1982

• Tiderace - after service in the Suez Crisis, the Tiderace was renamed the Tideflow to avoid confusion with another ship name

• Tidesurge - originally launched as RFA Tiderange in 1954, she spent many of her early years east of Suez and served until 1976

• Tideforce - a new name in the RFA service.

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