HMS Westminster’s refuelling first with new tanker RFA Tidespring

Other ships have practised – including future flagship HMS Queen Elizabeth but HMS Westminster became the first Royal Navy vessel to receive fuel on operations from the Fleet’s newest tanker, RFA Tidespring.

Fellow tanker RFA Wave Knight and Westminster’s HMS Sutherland had previously proved the Tide-class ship’s capabilities during her sea trials last year.

The Royal Fleet Auxiliary vessel is one of four built to refuel the new Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers and her task group when at sea.

Measuring just over 200 meters in length and with a top speed of 27 knots, RFA Tidespring is a welcome addition to the fleet.

Even though it was raining on the approach to the vessel, there was still a sense of occasion on Westminster’s upper deck. It was clear to see the crew were proud to be working with another British naval ship.

Being an Above Water Weapons specialist, I pride myself in attention to detail. For me to fire the projectile on to the ship first time during RFA Tidespring’s first operational RAS is a great honour and a memory that will stay with me throughout my career

Leading Seaman Louis Vine

A lot of HMS Westminster’s ship’s company had not participated in a Replenishment at Sea (RAS) before – after all the last RAS that HMS Westminster had conducted was in November 2017 with RFA Wave Knight.

Tidespring towered over Westminster. With a delicate approach HMS Westminster’s Commanding Officer Cdr Simon Kelly took control from the bridge wings with a team of specialist to advise him appropriately.

Once the ship was in position, Leading Seaman Louis Vine shot the soft nose projectile across to RFA Tidespring to begin the exchange of lines between the two ships.

“Being an Above Water Weapons specialist, I pride myself in attention to detail. For me to fire the projectile on to the ship first time during RFA Tidespring’s first operational RAS is a great honour and a memory that will stay with me throughout my career,” said Louis for whom this was his final RAS aboard Westminster.

Four lines were pulled across to HMS Westminster, allowing communications between the ships, a distance line for correct separation, a spare line and finally a line to transfer fuel.

Once the exchange of fuel was complete Cdr Kelly sent over a crest and a bottle of red wine to Tidespring’s Captain Simon Herbert.

As the two ships separated the crew took a well earned break; the serial was over and the ship could return to conducting operations after a successful RAS.

– Article by ET(CIS) Jake Volpe, HMS Westminster.