RFA Tiderace, the next Military Afloat Reach and Sustainability (MARS) tanker due in Falmouth for military customisation has left the builder’s yard in Okpo, South Korea, bound for the UK.

The tanker called at the American military base at Yokosuka in Japan earlier this week. Her sister ship RFA Tidesurge has also been conducting acceptance trials off the South Korean coast.

Now the pressure is on for RFA Tidespring to start her lengthy programme of military trials in UK waters, which include helicopter landings and replenishment at sea (RAS) with a Royal Navy vessel before she enters service with the Fleet.

The tanker, which has been alongside since April, having armour, communications systems and weapons fitted is due to sail this week.

The A&P Group was awarded a £15 million contract by the Ministry of Defence to provide customisation and assessment trials in the UK for the four Tide class tankers.

Meanwhile, Britain’s new super aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth is expected to arrive in Portsmouth in the next two weeks.

The 65,000-tonne carrier, the biggest warship ever to be built in Britain, has been undergoing sea trials since setting sail from Scotland’s Rosyth dockyard in June.

She is now set to make her historic arrival into Portsmouth, where she will be the latest in a long line of famous Royal Navy ships to call the port home.

By the end of the decade, Tidespring and her three sisters – Tiderace, Tidesurge and Tideforce – will be the mainstay of operations by Royal Navy ships and task groups around the globe, in particular the carrier battle groups formed around the new aircraft carriers HMS Queen Elizabeth and Prince of Wales

“The new Queen Elizabeth-class carriers will be undertaking both carrier strike and amphibious operations in the future,” said Robin Boulby, MARS Tanker team leader in the MoD’s Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) organisation.