Registered: ​30th December 1959
Duration: 29 minutes
Feet: 2587 feet
Board of Trade Certificate number: BR/E24887
Produced for: United Artists
Production Company: Harold Baim Film Productions (London) Limited

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The story of a ship, R.F.A. Tidereach on it's journey from England to Norfolk Virginia, Boston and New York.
This is the sequel to 'Floating Fortress,' and tells the story of the oiling work in Boston, New York, and Norfolk Virginia where British and American fleets are on exercise at sea. An insight into the work of the Merchant Navy.

Title and Credits:


Director of Eastmancolor Photography:  Eric Owen
Director of 1st Camera Unit: Alan Masters
Director of 2nd Camera Unit: Mark Bocutt
Director of 3rd Camera Unit: Tony Roberts
Liaison Officers:  Cdr J. Pearce RN, Cdr F.M. Lloyd USN, First Officer C. Macarthy RFA, Cdr R.S. Jones USN
Film Editors: Howard Lanning, Dennis Lanning, Gerald Levy
Musical Arrangements : M. De Wolfe
Recordists: W. Milner, John Cape, Arthur Roberts
Title Artist: Gil Kirk
Processed by: Rank Laboratories, Denham, England
Associate Producer: David M. Hay
Produced and Directed by: Harold Baim

Story Told by: Donald Holms

The producers of this film acknowledge with gratitude the co-operation of the Admiralty in London and the United States Naval Forces Eastern Atlantic.


Drake. He was a Devon man and ruled the Devon Seas.

This is the story of another young man.

This is the story of his ship.

The ship is called Tide Ridge. A fuel replenishment vessel and one of the lifelines of the British Navy.

Our cadet is in the Royal Fleet Auxiliary Service, and since leaving nautical college, this is his first voyage. A voyage during which he will be able to put into practice the many aspects of seamanship he has already been taught.

At Plymouth in England. Michael joins his ship.

He is greeted by the senior apprentice, a man in his last four years of apprenticeship and a designated leader to be.

The understudy of the master of the vessel, the chief officer, makes his acquaintance. Makes him feel at home and talks to him of the many mutual points of interest in the career which the cadet has chosen for himself.

There is time for a cigarette and a chat, for these young men have much in common,
But there is work to do. The ship has been made ready to sail.

The pilot comes aboard. In confined waters of harbours and dockyards, these men have a special knowledge of local conditions and take large ships to and from their berths with the assistance of tugs.

Tidereach moves away from the jetty.

She passes Drake's Island. The lighthouse at Plymouth Breakwater is her last look at England. It's full speed ahead.
With a gross tonnage of some 14,000 tonnes, Tidereach was built in 1955, generating sufficient power to operate her mass of oiling equipment she is able to replenish, while steaming at sea, three ships simultaneously.

Let us, with Michael, take a short tour of inspection of what is to be, for some time, his new home.

Officers and men of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary belong to the Merchant Navy and serve under the conditions laid down for that service.

From here, it's a long way down to the sea. Across the Atlantic to Norfolk, Virginia. Tidereach speeds on her way to her first port of call. Practical training begins at a session with the first officer who shows him the master certificate. The goal to which they all work and virtually the accolade of the merchant Navy.

Proficient in every aspect of seamanship is what he will eventually become.

An orderly and alert mind are needed for navigation and chart work. Under the experienced eye of the Captain, our cadet is put through his paces.

It's the same young man after a visit to the oil tanks. He has to take the work as it comes.

Signal lamp training is, of course, a lighter kind of work.

Tidereach carries an enormous amount of highly inflammable fuel. So firefighting drill is an essential part of the training. Apart from hoses, other appliances are used. These are much easier to handle. His instructor had a word or two to say after this display of efficiency. Although in tip top condition, there's many a slip that can be made.

At the wheel he obtains more practical experience.

Gun salutes are exchanged on reaching Norfolk. This custom is a relic of days gone by.

Here is the independence, one of America's greatest warships and our own victorious over for the Atlantic exercise.

Flag officer of Britain's aircraft carriers is Vice Admiral C.L.G. Evans CBE DSO DSC, one of the most famous of Fleet air arm pilots of the last war. From Norfolk Airport. He leaves to call upon the mayor of Washington. Whilst aboard the USS Northampton, Michael meets a friend who is to take him on a tour of Norfolk's fabulous naval base.

Covering thousands of acres of ground, the base is said to be one of the largest concentrations of naval power in the world.

The naval base has just about everything.

World famous Williamsburg looks exactly like a series of photographs from a history book come to life. Williamsburg is just as it was in American colonial times. Through the generosity of the Rockefeller Foundation, it has been completely restored to its former glory.

The town is visited by thousands of people who, upon entering it, take a step back into history. Houses, taverns, small shops and hostelries have been restored or rebuilt on the exact sites they once occupied.

Soon, our ship is underway for Boston, Massachusetts.

At regular intervals lifeboat drill is carried out to ensure that all personnel are well versed in measures to provide for their safety in times of emergency at sea.

Training proceeds a pace, for there is a long curriculum to get through.

Tidereach is secured alongside at Boston, said to be the most English of American cities. Here our young man meets another of his own age who will act as his host whilst the visit lasts.

In Boston Harbor is the old USS Constitution. The Constitution is an important part of American naval history. There are many historical links with Britain as this plaque testifies.

The University of Harvard is the oldest institution of learning in the United States. John Harvard, the founder, was an Englishman who was born in 1607. He died in 1638, leaving half his fortune of £1,600 for the founding of this famous college. He left also his library of 300 books.

For relaxation, there's always baseball.

The magnificent buildings of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology at Cambridge on the outskirts of Boston are noted for the excellence of higher education.

We're in a part of the United States called New England. There is a town of Redding where men from the British ships compete in a rifle contest with those from American vessels. At Brighton, in New England, there is Inter-ship football, and in Boston Park, the band of the Royal Marines beat retreat to show our American cousins why they are world famous for their drill and precision.

A mixture of America and Britain, the city of Boston has streets which remind one quite vividly of thoroughfares back home.

26 storeys high, the John Hancock Building dominates the city.

HMS Victorious is still with us, and a cocktail party is being held on board. Affairs of this kind; luncheons, dinners; are always given during foreign visits. Naval, civic and diplomatic authorities are usually invited. Reciprocal hospitality is then given by many of those attending.

Britain's most modern aircraft carrier has an open day in Boston. They queue all day. It's a proud moment and Victorious is really something to be seen. Conducted tours are the order of the day and the British naval officers and men rise admirably to the occasion.
American schoolchildren are given their own party on board. Great days.

On the guided missile carrying ship USS Boston, return visits are made. Ships of the Navy are excellent ambassadors.

Hospitality is shown by Rear Admiral Carl Espay, commandant of the first Naval District, at his beautiful home.

Rear Admiral Espay talks with Vice Admiral Evans.

The mayor of Boston invites members of the visiting British ship, not to luncheon, not to dinner, but to breakfast, and again the British rise, in fact had to rise, early to the occasion.

Off the coast of North Carolina the exercise, known as Riptide, is due to take place. It is during this exercise that Tidereach is to play her valuable part. The wireless room receives a message for an oiling rendezvous to be made. The deck messenger passes the signal to the master of tide reach and plans are put into operation.

The appointment at sea is with HMS Tenby, an anti-submarine frigate specially designed for hunting submarines with high underwater speeds. Flag Romeo is hoisted to show Tenby she is ready to be received. The port centre derrick is at the ready.

HMS Tenby stands by to receive the gunline.

Valves are opened and the transfer begins. Tenby now takes on the supply of fuel, without which she would be unable to move. HMS Scarborough is being replenished at the same time. A well-organised split second operation with fuel, the lifeblood of ships at sea.

Apart from the transfer of essential stores, the light jackstay is used for the transfer of personnel. The line is fixed to one of the ships and held at the other end to allow for the distance between the ships to increase or decrease. Failure to do this would mean that the line could become taut and snap, or it could become so slack that it could drop into the water, taking the man with it. Oh, yes. It pays to have a good friend on the free end of the line.
As well as carrying fuel to burn, the tanker carries lubricating oils suitable for the high speed machinery of modern warships. This is used in comparatively small quantities and can be stored and transferred in 40 gallon drums by the light jackstay method.

The fleet is in formation. The ships of the United States and British navies have taken up their appointed positions for the start of exercise Riptide.

USS Saratoga, one of the largest warships afloat, displacing 79,000 tons at full load. She is 1046ft long and designed to carry the heaviest and fastest Navy fighters and attack planes.

USS Northampton, a tactical command ship.

USS Essex, a famous carrier with angled flight deck.

USS Lorain.

HMS Victorious.

Arriving on board Victorious is Admiral Gerald Wright, Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic, welcomed by Vice Admiral Evans. It is from here he will watch the exercise.

An integral part of the operation is cross-deck take-offs and landings. United States aircraft often on British carriers, British planes to and from United States carriers. Scimitars, Crusaders, Venoms, Skyhawks all take part in this meticulous display of power. With the slightest error of organization or judgment might well prove fatal.

USS Boston readies her guided missile launching equipment.

Tidereach is on hand to see that the ships are able to play their vital roles. At times they queue up almost as at a petrol pump or garage. The demand for the precious fuel oil is ever present. The United States ship Lori comes into position for fuelling. Their motto is anywhere, any time, and Tidereach was there too. Right on time when she was needed.
The astern method of fuelling cuts down hazards which might be met with in rough weather.

Vice Admiral Evans leaves Victorious for USS Saratoga. From that ship he will watch the firing of the Terrier guided missile.

Our cameraman leaves by helicopter too.

RFAs Tidereach continues to its last destination before returning home to Britain.

New York with its skyscraper buildings, the tremendous pulsating life of the city and the utterly American way of life.

An officer of the United States Navy takes Michael in hand for a tour of New York. Broadway fascinates him. Fifth Avenue charms him with its elegant shops and apartment houses and at Radio City Music Hall, there's a welcoming committee on hand to receive him.

No wonder the boys wear such wide smiles. This is the sort of committee they dream about, the famous dance team of Radio City, The Rockettes. Cross-deck operations and replenishment at sea are quickly forgotten.

From the Empire State Building, they take in the breathtaking view. It's breathtaking alright.

Down to earth they take time out to rest a while. With justifiable pride, he shows off Victorious. When night falls, they do the town, and what a town it is to do. The lights flash and welcome on Broadway, The Great White Way.

That it will be a slightly bewildered cadet who eventually will return to his ship in the early hours of the morning.

Once more Tidereach gets ready to sail, this time for home.

It's been a thrilling voyage. Norfolk, Exercise Riptide, Boston, New York, and the ever present thrill of the sea.   

[End Credit]