RFA Tide AustralThe ‘Tide’ class of Fleet Tankers were the first purpose designed and built replenishment tankers for the Admiralty and they incorporated lessons learned from the Second World War, especially operations with the Pacific Fleet Train and a need for a fast replenishment tanker that could keep up with a task force.

The ‘Tide’ class of Fleet Tankers were the first purpose designed and built replenishment tankers for the Admiralty and they incorporated lessons learned from the Second World War, especially operations with the Pacific Fleet Train and a need for a fast replenishment tanker that could keep up with a task force.

The class had ice strengthened hulls to enable them to operate in Northern Waters, as at the time there was a perceived threat from the Soviet Union, the design provided for five RAS rigs, three on the port side primarily so that they could fuel aircraft carriers and two on the starboard side along with the capability to refuel up to two ships over the stern, as well as the capacity to carry and issue a limited amount of dry stores.  These ships carried Furnace Fuel Oil (FFO), Dieso, Aviation Spirit, both Avcat and Avgas, as well as a range of Lubricating oils and Fresh Water so that the task group they were operating with could remain at sea for protracted periods.

 

In the original group of four ships was an order for the Australian Navy for a fleet replenishment tanker, which was eventually to become HMAS Supply, however at the time of her launch the Australian Navy was unable to accept her, so she was loaned to the RFA as RFA Tide Austral and was employed on freighting duties until she was handed over in 1962.

 

The ships of this class were a highly successful design and proved to be very popular ships to work on, they all saw service throughout the world on a number of operations and deployments, including the so called ‘Cod Wars’ and the Beira Patrol.

 

 

Tide Austral

 

Builder: Harland and Wolff, Belfast

Launched: 1 September 1954                        Completed: 28 May 1955

Yard No: 1502

Tonnage: 13,165 grt, 18,292 dwt

Displacement: 26,417 tons

Length: 583 feet                    Beam: 71 feet                      Draught: 32 feet

Machinery: 2 x Pametrada double reduction geared turbines, 3 Babcock and Wilcox boilers, single shaft.

Speed: 17 knots

Complement: 90 RFA

Pennant Number: A 99 (Tide Austral), AO 195 (HMAS Supply)

 

BATTLE HONOURS FOR THIS SHIP: TEXEL 1673 awarded to a previous ship of this name.

 

RFA Tide Austral was originally ordered for the Australian Navy as a dedicated replenishment tanker, but at the time of her completion the Australian Government was unable to accept her, so she was loaned to the RFA who used her for freighting duties with a Maltese crew.  The ship was finally handed over to an Australian crew on the 15 August 1962, and officially Commissioned on the 7 September 1962 and renamed HMAS Supply in a ceremony attended by the wife of Rear Admiral Becher, the Australian Navy representative in the UK.

 

The ship then sailed for Australia where she took up the duties of fleet replenishment tanker.  The ship took part in the protest at the French nuclear tests at Mururoa Atoll, along with HMNZS Canterbury and Otago.  In 1974, she was part of the relief force sent to Darwin after Cyclone Tracy had devastated the region.  The following year Supply was present at the Independence Ceremony at Papua New Guinea.  In 1980 the ship was part of the Australian Squadron in the Indian Ocean, which was the largest Australian fleet since the Second World War.  After a very busy career the ship was paid off on the 16 December 1985, she arrived at Kaohsiung for breaking up in February 1987.

 

 

 

Tide_Austral

RFA Tide Austral shortly after being launched

 

 

 

Tideflow

 

Builder: Sir J. L. Thompson and Sons Ltd, Sunderland

Launched: 30 August 1954                       Completed: 24 January 1956

Yard No: 640

Tonnage: 13,146 grt, 16,913 dwt

Displacement: 26,417 tons

Length: 583.3 feet                Beam: 71. 3 feet                  Draught: 32 feet

Machinery: 2 x Pametrada double reduction geared turbines, 3 x Babcock and Wilcox boilers, single shaft.

Speed: 17 knots

Complement: 90

Pennant Number: A 97

 

BATTLE HONOURS FOR THIS SHIP: No battle honours recorded for this ship

 

Launched on the 30 August 1954 as RFA Tiderace, and was towed to the Tyne on the 11 September to have her engines fitted.  Took part in Operation Musketeer in 1956, the Suez Crisis.  Renamed in 1958 as RFA Tideflow, after confusion with her sister RFA Tiderange. During 1959 the ship took part in what was called the first ‘Cod War’ along with her sister Tidesurge and other RFA’s and RN units. Between 1967 to 1968 Tideflow was part of the Aden Task Force and took part in the final review.  She then provided support to USS America on the 9 May 1968.  The ship was one of the RFA and RN ships present during the  first ‘Cod War’ off Iceland.  On the 8 January 1976 RFA Tideflow was laid up at Portsmouth on the disposal list.  She arrived at Bilbao on the 10 May 1976 for breaking up.

 

 

 

Tideflow

RFA Tideflow at Malta

 

 

Tidereach

 

Builder: Swan Hunter and Wigham Richardson, Wallsend.

Launched: 2 June 1954                           Completed: 30 August 1955

Yard No: 1847

Tonnage: 13,516 grt, 18,292 dwt

Displacement: 26,417 tons

Length: 583.2 feet                   Beam: 71.2 feet                Draught: 32 feet

Machinery: 2 x Pametrada double reduction geared turbines, 3 x Babcock and Wilcox boilers, single shaft.

Speed: 17 knots

Complement: 90

Pennant Number: A 96

 

BATTLE HONOURS FOR THIS SHIP: No battle honours recorded for this ship

 

The ship was originally intended for launching on the 18 May 1954, but this was delayed and she was finally launched on the 2 June 1954.  Tidereach supported HMS Victorious during the Kuwait crisis from July to August 1961.  In 1964 Tidereach was one of the RFA ships present during the Indonesian Confrontation.  In May of the following year the ship took part in Operation Seahorse, a SEATO exercise in the South China Sea.  On the 22 January 1968 Tidereach accompanying HMS Cambrian and stood by off Rodrigues Island during civil disturbances there.  Took part in the Cook Bicentennial during October 1969 in New Zealand with her sister RFA Tidesurge.  Working with a US Navy helicopter in October 1970, the ship assisted in landing a badly injured seaman from the British Registered ship ‘Trevalyour’.  Between October and December 1972 took part in Operation Zealous, with her sister ship RFA Tidesurge standing by off East Africa to evacuate British Nationals from Uganda.  In March 1978 the ship was laid up at Portsmouth for disposal.  Arrived at Bilbao for breaking up on the 20 March 1979.

 

 

Tidereach

RFA Tidereach at Gibraltar

 

 

 

Tidesurge

 

Builder: Sir James Laing and Sons Ltd, Sunderland

Launched: 1 July 1954                               Completed: 26 March 1956

Yard No: 809

Tonnage: 13,146 grt, 16,913 dwt

Displacement: 26,417 tons

Length: 583.3 feet                    Beam: 71.3 feet              Draught: 32 feet

Machinery: 2 x Pametrada double reduction geared turbines, 3 x Babcock and Wilcox boilers, single shaft.

Speed: 17 knots

Complement: 90

Pennant Number: A 98

 

BATTLE HONOURS FOR THIS SHIP: No battle honours recorded for this ship

 

Launched on the 1 July 1954 as RFA Tiderange.  Was one of the RFA Ships that took part in Operation Musketeer (Suez Crisis) of 1956.  The following year the ship was part of the RFA contingent that was present at Operation Grapple, the British H Bomb test off Christmas Island.  In 1962 she achieved fame as one of the Kellogg’s “British Navy” cards.  The following year she accompanied HMS Ark Royal to the Middle East with other RFA Ships. Accompanied her sister RFA Tidereach during the Cook Bicentennial celebrations in New Zealand in October 1969.  From October to December 1972 the ship was part of Operation Zealous the task group standing by off East Africa to evacuate British Nationals from Uganda.  In 1976 Tidesurge assisted in an economic survey of the Falkland Islands and was deployed in the South Atlantic with HMS Eskimo, in response to a possible Argentinean incursion of the Falklands.  The ship was laid up at Portsmouth for disposal in May 1976.  Tidesurge arrived at Valencia for breaking up in June 1979.

 

 

 

Tidesurge

 

RFA Tidesurge off RAF Gan

 

 

Improved Tide Class

 

 

On the 28 February 1961 an order was placed for two more ‘Tide’ class tankers based on the existing Admiralty hull but to an ‘Improved’ design on the previous four, this improved design incorporated a single spot flight deck and hangar facilities to enable the two ships to operate Wessex helicopters, as well as a workshop and garage for the carriage of vehicles or if needed another helicopter, these ship also had a swimming pool on the forward end of the flight deck, in front of the hangar.

 

The flight deck was incorporated in the design to allow the two ‘improved’ ships of the class to provide an Anti Submarine Capability to the fleet and these were the first two ships in the RFA Fleet to operate in this way.  Both of these two ships were scheduled to retire from service in 1982, but events at the time kept them going far longer than planned, with one of them being sold to the Chilean Navy.

 

Tidepool

 

Builder: R & W Hawthorne Leslie and Co Ltd, Newcastle

Launched: 11 December 1962                       Completed: 28 June 1963

Yard No: 753

Tonnage: 14,129 grt, 18,918 dwt

Displacement: 27,840 tons

Length: 583.4 feet                          Beam: 71.2 feet                    Draught: 32 feet

Machinery: 2 x Pametrada double reduction geared turbines, 2 x Foster Wheeler water tube boilers, single shaft.

Speed: 17 knots

Complement: 110 RFA, plus up to 24 Fleet Air Arm personnel.

Pennant Number: A 76

 

BATTLE HONOURS FOR THIS SHIP: Falkland Islands 1982

 

On the 20 August 1963, RFA Tidepool found herself supporting HMCS Bonaventure in the Channel area.  In September 1963 in company with HMS Scott, RFA Tidepool visited the International Maritime exhibition at Helsinki.  In May 1965 Tidepool with other RFA’s took part in Operation Seahorse, a large SEATO exercise in the South China Sea.  During EXPO 67, Tidepool visited Montreal, then took part in a the Naval Review at Halifax with other RN and RFA ships.  On the 29 December Tidepool was involved in supplying Humanitarian aid to the Shell tanker “Mactra” after she suffered an explosion whilst cleaning tanks in the Mozambique Channel.  The ship was part of Operation Zealous in October 1972, standing by off east Africa to evacuate British Nationals from Uganda.  In June 1973 with a Wessex helicopter of 846 squadron, the ship landed a party of Royal Marines on Rockall.  The following year saw Tidepool in Operation Northern Merger, a NATO exercise in European Waters.  She was then tasked as one of the RN and RFA ships involved in the third ‘Cod War’ off Iceland from November 1975 until January 1976.  In 1980 the ship was back to service the light on Rockall again.  Tidepool was withdrawn from service in 1981 and sold to Chile, she underwent a refit on the Tyne and in early 1982, after a short work up at Portland, set sail for Chile with a mixed Chilean/RFA Crew.  The ship had reached a naval base in Chile when the Faklands War broke out and she was ‘borrowed’ back from the Chilean Navy.  The ship sailed back through the Panama Canal to Curacao, where she was met by a full crew, stores and RAS Gear, the ship sailed south under the command of Captain J. W. Gaffrey RFA.  After calling at Ascension Island, she sailed for the Falklands and joined the ‘Fearless’ group, she was involved in supplying the fleet throughout the conflict, and after the surrender sailed for Chile in August 1982.  She was renamed “Almirante Jorge Montt” and became a very useful addition to the navy of Chile until she was decommissioned on the 15 December 1997.

 

 

Tidepool

RFA Tidepool

 

 

 

Tidespring

 

Builder: R & W Hawthorne Leslie and Co Ltd, Newcastle

Launched: 11 December 1962                         Completed: 18 January 1963

Yard No: 752

Tonnage: 13,543 grt, 18,918 dwt

Displacement: 27,840 tons

Length: 583.4 feet                           Beam: 71.2 feet                    Draught: 32 feet

Machinery: 2 x Pametrada double reduction geared turbines, 2 x Foster Wheeler water tube boilers, single shaft.

Speed: 17 knots

Complement: 110 RFA, plus up to 24 Fleet Air Arm Personnel.

Pennant Number: A 75

 

BATTLE HONOURS FOR THIS SHIP: Falkland Islands 1982

 

July 1963 Tidespring along with other RFA’s in support of HMS Victorious on passage from the UK to the Far East.  Between 1967 and 1968 RFA Tidespring was one of the RFA ships in support of the Aden Task Force 318.  In July of 1968 RFA Tidespring with other UK ships, supported Exercise Coral Sands an amphibious exercise around Australia.  Humanitarian Aid, Tidespring is part of the task group providing aid to RodriguesIsland after it was battered by a Cyclone in April 1972.  Later the same year Tidespring was part of Operation Strong Express, a NATO exercise in the North Atlantic.  In April 1973 Tidespring in company with HMS Hydra provided humanitarian aid to RodriguesIsland again, this time after 130 mph winds had swept the island.  In June of 1975, the Beira patrol came to an end, RFA Tidespring held the record for 90 consecutive days on patrol.  From December 1975 to January 1976 Tidespring took part in TAMANEX 75, a large exercise involving Britain, Australia, New Zealand, American and Canadian maritime forces. On the 28 June 1977 HM the Queen celebrated her Silver Jubilee; RFA Tidespring was one of the RFA’s present at the Silver Jubilee review of the fleet at Spithead.  In 1982 Tidespring was part of Exercise Springtrain, which was meant to have been her last active role as she was planned to be withdrawn from service as part of John Nott’s defence cuts, however the Falklands War intervened and Tidespring set sail for Ascension with the ‘Antrim’ group to re-capture South Georgia under the command of Captain Shane Redmond OBE RFA.  The ship lost her two Wessex helicopters on Fortuna Glacier whilst attempting to extract the Special Forces unit trapped there.  After the Argentinean Garrison on South Georgia, Tidespring transported the POW’s back to Ascension Island.  After disembarking the prisoners and acquiring new helicopters, she sailed south again to join the task force off the Falklands to take up tanker duties with the fleet.  After the war Tidespring continued in service until 1991 when she was withdrawn from service, she arrived at Alang in India for breaking up on the 2 July 1992.

 

 

 

Tidespring

RFA Tidespring

Copyright © 2008 – 2017 Christopher J White

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