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Honorary Commodore in Chief of the RFA, HRH Prince Edward the Earl of Wessex KG, GCVO, was in Portsmouth recently to welcome RFA Tidespring to the operational fleet.

With a displacement of 37,000 tonnes, the new ship, the first of the four biggest tankers to be purpose built for the British Royal Fleet Auxiliary, recently arrived at HM Naval Base Portsmouth in preparation for her official acceptance into operational service. Tidespring arrived with SOLASAFE roller sunscreens already installed at the widows on the Navigation Bridge and the Flying Control room (FLYCO).

The Tide Class tankers are replacing the RFA’s single-hulled vessels. Significantly larger than their predecessors they are an advanced capability, specifically designed to provide fuel water, ammunition and stores to the Queen Elizabeth Class Aircraft Carriers. They can also operate; Chinook, Merlin or Wildcat helicopters from their flight decks.  At 200 mts long, 29 mts beam and 10 mts draft they will have a speed of 27 knots and a range of 18,200 nautical miles.

They will be exceptionally versatile and able to simultaneously refuel an aircraft carrier and destroyer whilst undertaking helicopter re-supply of other vessels.

The vessel was built at the Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering shipyard in Okpo, South Korea and Solar Solve Marine’s Busan-based World Wide Distributor successfully negotiated a contract to supply SOLASAFE Anti-glare roller sunscreens to all 4 vessels.  The SOLASAFE screens have now all been delivered and the remaining vessels; Tiderace, Tidesurge and Tideforce will be joining Tidespring in active service over the coming months.

The screens will protect personnel on the Navigation Bridge and FLYCO from solar glare, heat and uv light.  They were manufactured by Solar Solve Marine and dispatched from their factory in South Shields, UK.

John Lightfoot, MBE, Solar Solve’s chairman commented, “The MARS Tanker programme has an extensive domestic supply chain involving around 27 UK companies and whilst Solar Solve Marine are not included as one of them, due to very small order values in comparison with the much more expensive kit, we are proud to have been able to retain our working partnership with the mod for these vessels that were built in South Korea.”
“We already have SOLASAFE screens installed on the Queen Elizabeth Aircraft Carrier and now the vessels that are going to support her are also SOLASAFE.”