Tanker Tiderace returns to sea after Merseyside revamp

Tanker RFA Tiderace left the best berth in Liverpool and returned to sea for trials after a revamp on Merseyside.

The 39,000-tonne vessel departed the Cruise Liner jetty on Liverpool’s world-famous waterfront to prepare for renewed front-line duties supporting Royal Navy operations around the globe.

 

The tanker completed an overhaul in the hands of Birkenhead’s world-famous Cammell Laird yard on the Mersey which ended on a jetty typically used by passenger liners or warships paying high-profile visits to the port (such as HMS Prince of Wales which drew massive crowds on her debut to her affiliated city).

 

Tiderace is the second of four Tide-class vessels - all of which are now in service. Principally designed and built to provide the UK’s new Carrier Battle Groups (centred around HMS Queen Elizabeth and Prince of Wales) with fuel to power the ships, F-35 strike fighters and helicopters, Tiderace has been in the hands of Cammell Laird’s shipyard since last year.

 

Tiderace is one of a number of vessels being revamped by the Birkenhead yard as part of a wider ten-year/£619M contract to maintain, overhaul and refit RFA ships. Cammell Laird’s recently took the opportunity to complete the final work across the river in both Canada Docks and the Cruise Terminal freeing up valuable dock space in their main yard.

I am delighted to have taken command of Tiderace and given the privilege of starting the complex steps of turning a ship in refit to a fully operational vessel capable of supporting our mighty carriers in times of both peace and conflict.

Captain Chris Clarke MBE, the ship’s Commanding Officer

Tiderace is now exiting refit after some major and invasive work. Principal among these were the replacement of all 4 engine/generator funnel exhausts, a significant upgrade to the high-pressure saltwater fire-main, post build/design improvements throughout the ship and a dry docking to facilitate routine inspections. The ship is now fully re-certificated after passing her [Lloyds] Class and [MCA] Flag state inspections, maintenance and testing.

 

The final few weeks of her maintenance has included a fresh coat of (specially applied) paint for the ship’s huge flight deck (large enough to accommodate a CH47, double rotor, Chinook). A large and complex protective awning was built to ensure the work was completed to a very high technical standard.

 

Captain Chris Clarke MBE, the ship’s Commanding Officer, said “I am delighted to have taken command of Tiderace and given the privilege of starting the complex steps of turning a ship in refit to a fully operational vessel capable of supporting our mighty carriers in times of both peace and conflict".

 

He continued "The ship and its crew now has to take the work of Cammell Laird (and its supporting contractors) and turn Tiderace into a fighting ship once again. This is an exacting task, with little manoeuvre for mistakes, and thus the foundations of success and safety will be built on the great work of Cammell Laird Shipyard”.

 

Liverpool has of course been a strange place of late given the COVID 19 restrictions in place. The cruise berth, adjacent to the iconic Liver Building and Mersey Ferry terminal, is normally at the heart of the famous clubs, bars, restaurants and museums of Liverpool. But while it has been strangely quiet, Tiderace has at least given the locals an impressive ship to view.