New Royal Navy tanker joins maiden warfare drill

The first in a new class of Royal Navy tankers – the RFA Tidespring – arrived at the Royal Navy’s Faslane base for her first visit to the Scottish establishment and for her first participation in a major international maritime exercise.

Built specifically to support HMS Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers and their task groups, Tidespring is the second largest vessel on the Navy’s books after the future flagship.

After supporting training for Royal Navy and foreign warships off Plymouth, the 37,000-tonne floating petrol station will be key to providing ‘black gold’ to participants of this year’s sole Joint Warrior exercise.

The exercise usually takes place in the spring and autumn, but 2018 will see only one edition of the exercise. The autumn session is being replaced this year by a larger exercise in Norway.

The naval element is dictated from Faslane, where ships gathered on Friday and Saturday, ahead of JW getting under way in earnest on Sunday and Monday.

Thirty-nine naval units from 13 nations will take part with many of them using maritime exercise areas off the western and northern coasts of Scotland, including Cape Wrath. The exercise concludes May 4.