The Royal Fleet Auxiliary’s new class of tanker will be known as the Tide class, drawing upon a name associated with a previous and successful class of support ships.
“The original Tides were the first purpose-built fleet tankers to support aircraft carriers and were highly successful and popular ships,” says Commodore Bill Walworth, head of the RFA. “The new Tides promise to be better still.”
The names were announced on Nov. 13, 2012. “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,” Walworth says.
Known as the Military Afloat Reach and Sustainability tankers (MARS), they will deliver fuel, food, fresh water, ammunition and supplies to Royal Navy ships around the world, and will be capable of operating in support of coalition forces, as well. The four new ships of the class ships were designed in the U.K., but are being built in South Korea.
“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,” Walworth says.
The new Tide-class tankers displace 37,000 tons and are 659 feet long, with a beam of 94 feet and a draft of 33 feet. They will be similar in dimensions to the U.S. Navy’s Lewis and Clark class of replenishment ships, which are 41,000 tons, 689 feet long, 105 feet wide and draw 30 feet.
The ships will be able to simultaneously conduct alongside refueling and cargo transfer as well as vertical replenishment using helicopters.
The Tide class will replace the two remaining tankers of the Rover class and one remaining Leaf class tanker. International regulations require tankers to have double hulls. Ships built before the rules took effect can operate, but with some restrictions. So these new ships with double hulls are safer, and offer more flexibility in what they can do and where they can go.