HMS Queen Elizabeth has successfully refuelled ‘on the go’ for the first time during its latest sea trials.
The Royal Navy has said the 65,000-tonne carrier took on fuel in the North Atlantic, receiving ‘amber gold’ from RFA Tidespring, the tanker purpose built to support the new aircraft carrier on her global operations.
The warship practised the manoeuvre - known as replenishment at sea - to take on supoplies on both sides as she battled fairly choppy conditions.
The two ships were 42 metres – 138ft – apart, sailing along at 12 knots (14mph/22kmh) as the lines were passed and the fuel hose transferred to hook up with the intake on the carrier.
The carrier’s navigating officer Lt Cdr Sam Stephens said: ‘This is one more significant step forward in our growing capability – knowing that we can be refuelled from a tanker means HMS Queen Elizabeth can roam even further from home.
‘The fact that our first replenishment at sea was with RFA Tidespring – the first in her class of the tankers which were designed specifically to operate with us, made it doubly significant.’
Captain Karl Woodfield RFA, Tidespring’s commanding officer, said his men and women were filled with ‘pride and achievement’ after the two successful hook-ups with the new carrier.
He said: ‘The Tide-class have been built to provide worldwide fuel support to the two new UK carriers so this is a significant milestone in bringing both ships into operational service.
‘Our first replenishment – in challenging weather conditions – was a success and marks the start of a very close and enduring relationship between the two ships.’
HMS Queen Elizabeth will soon return to Portsmouth for maintenance.
She will then leave for her maiden voyage across the Atlantic in the early autumn, when she conduct flying trials with F-35B Lightning stealth fighter/bombers for the first time.