THIS new artist’s impression shows how the Royal Navy’s next-generation tankers will look in operation.
As a Merlin helicopter hovers over its flight deck, tanker RFA Tidespring pumps fuel into the aviation training and casualty treatment ship RFA Argus.
In around 12 months, the first steel will be cut on Tidespring, the first of the new 37,000-tonne vessels which will provide fuel, water, stores and supplies to sustain the navy’s fleet around the world.
Hundreds of design drawings and plans have been drawn up by BMT Defence services, working with the Royal Navy and Royal Fleet Auxiliary.
Scale models have been built and tested in the gigantic water tank at QinetiQ’s Haslar base in Gosport.
The ships will carry 19,000 cubic metres – more than seven times the capacity of an Olympic-sized swimming pool – of fuel for a ship’s engines and aircraft.
One of their main jobs will be to support the two new Portsmouth-based Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers.
A new replenishment at sea rig has been built at HMS Raleigh in Torpoint to practise using both the new tankers and the fuel reception areas on the Queen Elizabeth-class carriers.
Typically the ships will have a crew of 63, including 17 officers and 12 senior ratings.
The four tankers will be built in South Korea