April 3 (UPI) -- Britain's Royal Navy signaled the beginning of a customization effort for its Tide-class tanker fleet when the RFA Tidespring arrived in Cornwall.
Tide-class Royal Fleet Auxiliary Tankers are a new fleet of four vessels built to bolster the service's maritime capabilities. The ships are intended to replace the U.K.'s aging single-hulled tankers currently in use.
RFA Tidespring, the first of the four tankers to be serviced, will be taken through customization in Falmouth. The operation is intended to ensure the vessel can provide effective support for the country's developing Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers.
The work will include installing new self-defense weapons and armor, and enhancing communication equipment.
"RFA Tidespring's UK arrival is a key milestone in 2017, the Year of the Royal Navy, which will also see the MOD develop world-class ships and submarines in support of Britain's role as a leading naval power," U.K. procurement chief Harriett Baldwin said in a press release. "Backed by a rising defense budget, the delivery of the Tide Class tankers is a crucial element of the government's £178 billion plan to ensure our armed forces have the equipment they need."
In addition to bolstering maritime capabilities, the ministry adds the work will also sustain 300 jobs at the shipyard in Falmouth.