RFA Tidespring, the first of the Tide Class replenishment ships to be military customised at Falmouth, has made her first approach to carry out a replenishment at sea (RAS) operation with the super carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth.

The 65,000 tonnes carrier was approached on her starboard side by the 37,000 tonnes Tidespring in the most hazardous operation a warship can conduct in peacetime.

A full First of Class replenishment was abandoned due to bad weather, but coming together, just metres apart, was an important moment for both ships, according to RFA Tidespring Navigating Officer, Second Officer Paul Stubley.

He said: "This has been a milestone evolution, coming alongside HMS Queen Elizabeth to attempt a first of class RAS trial. This will provide useful data needed for all the vessels in each class.

A replenishment between two large vessels bring challenges, particularly with ship interaction and the precariousness of transferring fuel and stores whilst underway."

The evolution involved a line being shot across to the tanker from the deck of HMS Queen Elizabeth with both hulls just metres apart. With bad weather preventing fuel hoses being transferred all eyes will be on the next RAS when a double probe will be attached, hauled back across to the carrier and connected for diesel to be pumped into her giant fuel tanks.


The double probe concept has been adopted from American carriers - it means twice the volume of fuel can be delivered within a shorter amount of time.

RFA Tidesurge is currently anchored in Panama Bay off Balboa awaiting her canal transit. She is due in Falmouth for her customisation programme in just over two weeks when self-protection equipment and classified communications gear will be fitted.

RFA Argus has commenced her multi-million pound refit at the docks.