Prince Edward visits Portsmouth to tour new tanker supporting the Royal Navy's two huge aircraft carriers

THE Earl of Wessex has paid tribute to the men and women of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary during a visit to Portsmouth.

By Tom Cotterill
Friday, 9th July 2021, 11:13 am
Updated Friday, 9th July 2021, 11:14 am

Prince Edward stopped by the city to see one of the naval support service’s newest vessels, the 39,000-tonne tanker RFA Tidesurge.

Accompanied by Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire Nigel Atkinson, the royal was introduced to the head of the RFA, Commodore David Eagles, as he was given a VIP tour of the new vessel.

Prince Edward, who is honorary Commodore-in-Chief of the RFA, also took the time to speak to officers and crew aboard Tidesurge.

Prince Edward pictured with crew of RFA Tidesurge with Portsmouth's Spinnaker Tower in the background. Photo: LPhot Ben Corbett

Honorary Commodore-in-Chief of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, the Earl of Wessex, visited RFA Tidesurge during the ship’s rare stopover in Portsmouth

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Captain Simon Booth, Tidesurge’s commanding officer, 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.

‘His royal highness took a keen interest in the capabilities of the ship and the diverse personnel I have the privilege to command.’

Prince Edward is shown around RFA Tidesurge by the head of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, Commodore David Eagles, pictured right. Photo LPhot Ben Corbett

Cdre Eagles added: ‘We are grateful for His Royal Highness’s support and awareness of all that the RFA Flotilla achieves in delivering to the Royal Navy and wider UK defence.’

Tidesurge is the third of the Tide-class tankers designed to support the Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers.

The ship is able to operate Chinook, Merlin and Wildcat helicopters and since entering service in 2019, Tidesurge has provided support to Royal Navy and allied warships.

She is regenerating following a maintenance period and visited Portsmouth to embark stores, rotate crew and prepare for the ship’s upcoming Operational Sea Safety Training.

HRH Prince Edward visits RFA Tidesurge. His Royal Highness, the Earl of Wessex KG GCVO, visited Portsmouth Historic Dockyard on Thursday 08 July 2021. The Earl of Wessex is Commodore in Chief of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary Service. As part of his visit he attended RFA TIDESURGE, to tour the vessel and meet members of the Ship’s Company. HRH will be accompanied by his Private Secretary Captain Andy Aspden RN, Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire, Mr Nigel Atkinson and Protection Officer Constable Jamie Mills. Once onboard he will be met by Commander of the RFA, Cdre David Eagles, and Tidesurge CO Captain Simon Booth. All parties will have conducted recent LFT before arrival.

Meanwhile, both aircraft carriers HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales are at sea.

The former is on her maiden operational mission to the Far East, having this week past through the Suez Canal.

While HMS Prince of Wales made her first journey to Gibraltar on Monday as she continues her sea trials, ahead of her 2023 in-service date.

HRH Prince Edward is shown around RFA Tidesurge in Portsmouth. Photo: LPhot Ben Corbett

HMS Queen Elizabeth is due to continue to the Gulf of Aden before heading to Japan later this month.

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HRH Prince Edward stops to speak to some of RFA Tidesurge's ship's company during a visit to Portsmouth. Photo: LPhot Ben Corbett