Serco Bring HMS Queen Elizabeth Home

Serco’s Maritime Services team are proud to have played a key role in a very important moment in the Royal Navy and Portsmouth Naval Base’s history. Six Serco tugs, two pilot boats, workboats and passenger craft supported HMS Queen Elizabeth as she entered her homeport for the first time.  Thousands of people watched as the 280m long aircraft carrier was welcomed into Portsmouth at 07:10 BST on 16th August.

Photo: Serco tugs berthing HMS Queen Elizabeth in her homeport for the first time. Credit: Rachel Wing

The arrival of HMS Queen Elizabeth marked the culmination of many years of hard work and investment by Serco, the Royal Navy, MOD and Portsmouth Naval Base in preparation for her arrival.  Serco procured SD Tempest, a 32 metre Damen ART 80-32 tug specifically to support the Royal Navy’s largest ever aircraft carriers.  With an 80t bollard pull SD Tempest is the most powerful, capable and manoeuvrable tug to enter service with Serco.

SD Tempest is the 31st vessel to be built for Serco by Damen Shipyards.  She has a crew of four, is 31.95m long, has a beam of 12.6m and a gross tonnage of 495 GT. She is the first tug in the UK to feature the RotorTug® propulsion system consisting of three azimuthing thrusters designed by Robert Allen in Canada. These provide omni-directional manoeuvrability to make her one of the most manoeuvrable and capable tugs in the UK.  They also have controllable pitch propellers installed instead of the usual fixed pitch propellers found on other vessels in her class.

The project to build SD Tempest brought together the latest technology from the global shipping industry for the Royal Navy and combined the expertise of the Ministry of Defence, Serco and Damen.  The Serco project team and the vessel’s crew were involved with Damen in the design, trials and testing of Tempest.   Serco specified a number of modifications to enable her to support the new aircraft carriers, including a double drum render/recovery aft winch for redundancy and a foldable mast for safe working under the flight deck overhang. SD Tempest is fitted with grey fendering to match the colour of RN vessels and prevent marking their hulls.  In preparation for her arrival Serco sent crew for training on the Tempest’s sister ships used in the commercial sector in the Netherlands.

Photo: SD Tempest arriving in Portsmouth 22nd February 2017.  Credit: Luke Malone.

Since Tempest’s arrival in Portsmouth in February the crews have been preparing for the arrival of the £3.1 billion aircraft carrier, including a trip up to Rosyth in June to tow her out on her maiden voyage.  Serco crews have undertaken extensive joint training with RN personnel and the MoD’s Admiralty pilots preparing for the arrival of HMS Queen Elizabeth to ensure a smooth and safe execution on the day.

 Photo: Serco tugs guiding HMS Queen Elizabeth to her berth on her FEP.  Credit: Rachel Wing

The Serco tugs berthed the HMS Queen Elizabeth at the newly-named and upgraded Princess Royal Jetty, which will be home to both of the Navy’s new 65,000 tonne aircraft carriers for the next 50 years.  Her arrival was supported by ten Serco vessels:

Vessel Type Bollard Pull Role in QEC First Entry into Port
SD Tempest Damen ART 80 32 80T Bow tug
SD Suzanne

SD Christina

Damen ASD 2009 20T Push on in final stages
SD Independent

SD Indulgent

Damen ASD 2509 40T Quarter leads aft
SD Bountiful Damen ATD 2909 40T Redundancy / Push Tug
SD Inspector Damen Shoalbuster 2609 N/A Running lines
SD Navigator MuC 2510 N/A Security marking/ buoy laying
SD Solent Spirit Damen STe 1905 N/A VIP Passenger carrier
SD Solent Racer Damen STe 1505 Pilot boat/ line runner

Photo: SD Suzanne and SD Christina pushing HMS Queen Elizabeth onto her berth with SD Tempest on the bow.  Credit: Geoff Barker.

Rob Hales, Maritime Services Director said, “It was a huge privilege to see HMS Queen Elizabeth brought into the port, supported by a flotilla of Serco tugs, workboats, pilot boats and ferries.  Serco’s expertise and commitment is recognised and valued at the highest levels of the Royal Navy, and today we have again demonstrated our pivotal role in supporting the fleet.”

Now HMS Queen Elizabeth is in Portsmouth the coming days, weeks and months will be a busy period for the Serco team in Portsmouth as we adjust to the new demands of supporting the carrier, but we have made a great start.


About Serco Maritime Services

Serco supports the Royal Navy at Portsmouth, Devonport, Falmouth and in Scotland and operates one of the largest fleet of British flagged vessels. Serco operate 109 vessels with a range of specialist capabilities for the Royal Navy and have procured 32 new vessels since the contract began in 2007, with two more under construction with Damen.  Every year Serco’s Maritime Services capability perform around 14,000 tasks for the Royal Navy, 99.9% of which are performed on time and as requested by our customers.

© Serco August 2017

This document was prepared by Rachel Wing on behalf of Serco Defence, Maritime Services

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