Photo essay: HMS Queen Elizabeth conducts first replenishment at sea

HMS Queen Elizabeth conducted her first Replenishment at Sea (RAS) with RFA Tidespring this week. While the main purpose of her current deployment is to conduct helicopter flight trials in the Eastern Atlantic, the opportunity was taken to prove her RAS capability.

A first replenishment at sea for QE with RFA Tidespring was planned to take place in February. The two ships came together but no lines were passed because in the rough weather it was not worth taking risks for a trial that could be postponed until a better opportunity was available.

HMS Queen Elizabeth sailed from Portsmouth on 10th June so had only been at sea for 11 days, assuming she sailed with full fuel tanks, she did not actually need to conduct RAS. For the purposes of the trial, just 200 tonnes of F76 marine diesel oil was transferred from RFA Tidespring.

Both port and starboard fuelling stations on the carrier were tested.

RFA Tidespring was designed from the outset to provide fuel to the QEC aircraft carriers

To conduct the RAS, the two ships steam at 12 knots, around 42 metres apart.

If needed, the Tide class tankers can deliver 800 cubic metres of fuel per hour

Of the four Tide class tankers, RFA Tidespring is fully operational while RFA Tiderace is on the verge of entering service. RFA Tidesurge is being fitted out in Falmouth and RAF Tideforce will soon be delivered from her builders in South Korea.