Prince Edward visits RFA Tidesurge at Portsmouth

Photo credit: LPhot Ben Corbett - UK MOD © Crown copyright 2021

A rare period alongside at HM Naval Base Portsmouth has presented RFA TIDESURGE with the opportunity to welcome onboard Honorary Commodore in Chief of the RFA Service, HRH Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex KG, GCVO, CD, ADC.

HRH was accompanied by HM Lord-Lieutenant of Hampshire, Nigel Atkinson ESQ. The Lord-Lieutenant is HM The Queen’s personal representative in the County and is responsible for the organisation of all official Royal visits to Hampshire.

Also, in attendance for the Royal visit was RFA Head of Service, Commodore David Eagles RFA, who commented:

“The Royal Fleet Auxiliary is thrilled to welcome our Commodore in Chief onboard TIDESURGE and we are grateful for His Royal Highness’ support and awareness of all that the RFA Flotilla achieves in delivering to the Royal Navy and wider UK Defence.”

RFA TIDESURGE is the third of class of the Tide-class Tankers, which includes sister ships, RFA’s Tidespring, Tiderace and Tideforce. The Tide-class tankers are flexible, state-of-the-art double-hulled vessels, which provide key underway Replenishment at Sea (RAS) capability and support to the Queen Elizabeth Class Aircraft Carriers.

These 39,000 tonne ships, the largest ships currently in service within the Royal Fleet Auxiliary Service, are maritime force enablers, which provide extensive capability to undertake a wide range of maritime operations in support of the Royal Navy, NATO and coalition allies. The Tide-class can operate UK Chinook, Merlin or Wildcat helicopters from their flight decks plus NATO aircraft.

Photo credit: LPhot Ben Corbett – UK MOD © Crown copyright 2021

Since entering service in 2019, TIDESURGE has been kept busy providing RAS and flying support to RN and allied navy warships, as well as providing training support to a wide variety of warship activity under the direction at Fleet Operational Sea Training Staff in the South Coast Exercise Areas, off the coast of Devon and Cornwall.

Following an extensive period of maintenance and apparatus upgrades, TIDESURGE is currently regenerating prior to re-joining the operational fleet in support of the Royal Navy. As well as updating certification, the ship’s company has been working hard trialling new equipment fits to ensure that these new systems are operating to their optimum efficiency and capacity.

A visit to Portsmouth has also presented TIDESURGE the opportunity to embark stores, rotate personnel and progress preparations for upcoming period of Operational Sea Safety Training. This is an intense period of activity, when TIDESURGE team will be put through their paces on a daily basis and all onboard aspects tested to the limit to ensure she is fully up-to-speed and capable of providing efficient and effective operational support to the Fleet.

Meeting with the officers’ and crew, HRH The Earl of Wessex was given an extensive tour of the ship and an overview of TIDESURGE exploits over the past couple of years and likely future tasking by ships Commanding Officer, Captain Simon Booth RFA.

Capt Booth on completion of ships tour said:

“My ship’s company are very proud of their ship and what she delivers to UK Defence and were absolutely delighted to be able to show her off to our Commodore in Chief.

HRH took a keen interest in the capabilities of the ship and the diverse personnel I have the privilege to command.”


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