Models of Royal Navy future Carrier & RFA Tanker simulate Replenishment At Sea

Focus - Naval Technology
Models of Royal Navy future Carrier & RFA Tanker simulate Replenishment At Sea
Two highly-accurate one-tonne scale models of HMS Queen Elizabeth and future tanker RFA Tidespring have been tested in Europe’s largest indoor water tank in Gosport to determine how the two ships can sail safely in company. Key to any future operations by the carrier – the largest warship ever to sail under the White Ensign – will be sustaining her thousands of miles from home.
Two 1:44 scale models – the 37,000-tonne 200m-long (659ft) tanker has been reduced to 4.5m (15ft) in length, while the 65,000-tonne HMS Queen Elizabeth has been shrunk from 284m (931ft) in length to 6.45m (21ft) – were built and taken to the enormous ‘ocean basin’ test tank, owned by defence research firm QinetiQ.
(Video: Royal Navy)
For that she’ll need to conduct a RAS – replenishment at sea – on a fairly regular basis with a tanker or support ship of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, whose ships provide crucial sustenance to Royal Navy vessels around the world daily.

Hand-in-hand with construction of Queen Elizabeth and her sister HMS Prince of Wales is the construction of a new generation of Fleet tankers – four Tidespring-class ships of 37,000 tonnes, entering service from 2016.

The basic design for the Tidesprings is almost complete – and key to that design has been testing how they perform when working with the future carriers.

When the two ships sail together to conduct a replenishment – fuel, water or dry supplies such as spare parts or fuel transferred by jackstay – they are subject to hydrodynamic forces which can drive them apart, or pull them together – both of which are highly dangerous.

So understanding these forces is key to safe operations.