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HMS Ocean has come home from deployment a day early as her career in the Royal Navy comes to an end.

HMS Ocean is the UK’s only helicopter carrier and the fleet flagship of the Royal Navy. She is designed to support amphibious landing operations and to support the staff of Commander UK Amphibious Force and Commander UK Landing Force.

The amphibious warfare commando helicopter carrier ends her career with the Royal Navy on a very busy note having left Plymouth at the end of August as the flag ship of a NATO Maritime Group on security duties in the Mediterranean region protecting the international shipping routes critical to UK trade.

The ship was re-tasked and diverted from her NATO duties at the beginning of September to take vital humanitarian aid to British Overseas Territories hit by Hurricane Irma before returning to resume her role as the NATO Group flagship and take part in multi-national exercises.

HMS OCEAN Homecoming December 2017.

On board during her deployment were Royal Marines from Taunton-based 40 Commando, helicopters from 820, 845 and 847 Royal Naval Air Squadron based in Culdrose and Yeovilton and RAF Chinook helicopters. The crew will depart on Christmas leave after leaving the ship.

HMS Ocean is due to end her career with the Royal Navy early next year when she will enter Devonport for the final time under the White Ensign to be officially paid off.

What’s next for the helicopter carrier?

We broke the news in March that Brazil was interested in helicopter carrier HMS Ocean, this has now been confirmed by the Brazilian government.

Then in April, we reported that the Brazilian Navy had reportedly sent a proposal to pay for helicopter carrier HMS Ocean in instalments.

According to Brazilian journalist Roberto Lopes in an e-mail to us, the ship’s cost to the Brazilian Navy is fixed at £80.3 million pounds (312 million of Brazilian Reais). Commander of the Brazilian Navy, Admiral Eduardo Leal Ferreira, claimed that the price of Ocean seemed “convenient”.

Then this week, IHS Janes reported that Brazil’s MoD authorised efforts to purchase Ocean once she leaves UK service.

We understand from Roberto Lopes via e-mail, the source who let us know that Brazil has already submitted a payment plan for the vessel, that the officers involved in the ship acquisition process are optimistic and are already discussing details beyond the technical and financial assessments that have been made, such as the name of the ship.

“Minas Gerais is the strongest designation at the time. Rio de Janeiro was ‘saved’ for the future aircraft carrier. However, nothing definite. Only with the execution of the acquisition is that defined.”

According to someone we spoke to earlier in the year currently on-board the vessel, there were rumours that this is one of a number of possibilities:

“People have been talking about what will happen to the ship after 2018, there were rumours that the vessel might be sold to another navy but there’s been no mention of what navy that might be.”

The helicopter carrier was constructed in the mid-1990s and commissioned in September 1998. In November 2015, the MoD confirmed that HMS Ocean is to be decommissioned in 2018 with no like-for-like replacement.

This comes as the Brazilian Navy have decided to abandon the refit of the  aircraft carrier Sao Paulo and decommission the vessel after a series of technical issues and accidents. Rectification costs are understood to be a major factor in this decision.

The Sao Paulo is a Clemenceau class aircraft carrier commissioned in 1963 by the French Navy as Foch and was transferred in 2000 to Brazil, where she became the new flagship of the Brazilian Navy. The earlier intention of the navy was that the vessel would continue in active service until 2039, at which time the vessel would be nearly 80 years old. IHS Janes reported that during its career with the Brazilian Navy, São Paulo has suffered from ‘serviceability issues and has never managed to operate for more than three months at a time without the need for repairs and maintenance’. It is no surprise therefore that the navy have now announced, as reported by DefesaNet, that the ship will be ‘demobilised and subsequently decommissioned’.

18 COMMENTS

  1. As the Queen song says “Another one bites the dust”
    Wont be much left soon
    Wonder what the real Queen thinks about the state of her armed forces?

  2. Possibly the first of many? Heavens forbid if the Royal Navy can retain current capability, it just does not sit well with the men in grey suits. Remember, they won’t be there when the maroon goes up, that will be the job of the men and women, who have to double their efforts to satisfy the Treasury. Remember soft skin Landrover Snatch vehicles, a good example of grey suit thinking. That mentality has not diminished in regards to all three of our services.

  3. The Mighty O – best value hull in the navy.

    Many well informed comments and the documentary suggesting she was tired, so it’s not that she’s going, but that she’s not being replaced that does my nut.

    QEs are different animals and I’m very pleased to have them, but this is another glaring hole in the capability gap spectrum which no one has any plans to fix.

  4. HMS Ocean was described as a north sea ferry with a deck. Only ever intended to have a 20 year old RN career.
    We are getting two new vastly superior purpose built full size carriers over the next two years which will do everything Ocean can do and infinitely more.
    The phalanx will not be sold with the ship.
    HMS Prince of Wales has half her crew assigned, the rest will be transferred from Ocean.

  5. So we are de-commissioning a ship that carries 18 helicopters and 4 LCVP amphibious boats that is at the end of her operational life before she becomes too expensive to maintain. She retires on a high point in her career and I wish her fair winds in service with Brazil.

    And the doomsday merchants somehow think we are not replacing her? Now somewhere in Portsmouth there is a 70,000 tone ‘replacement’ that delivers 3 times the aircraft. There is another ‘replacement’ due to be launched early next year that has been specifically adapted for amphibious assets.

    Am I missing something or is a ship that has 4 times the presence of the one being retired not an adequate ‘replacement’? How many F-35s can Ocean carry? We are moving into a different defence world and like all new developments we have to let some old things go. The QEs are far more than just carriers of fixed wing aircraft.

  6. Evan – well maybe. Not sure Class’s Guide does second hand LHDs … Lol

    Hope we offered to sell them some new Merlins to on the deck …

  7. Having been on Hms Intrepid and Hms Fearless it is vital part of the Navy to replace not to sit at a desk and look at cost

  8. What a strategically incompetent decision
    Ocean sold off so now a new capability gap opens up that of close inshore helicopter assault.
    strategic airlift onto target hampered by QE class having to stand offshore to allow her carrier battle group to protect her. Unless we Lilly pad using Albion and bay class? Even that is not as effective as having a small flat top close inshore.
    A purpose built replacement is needed to act as an escort carrier/ ASW carrier/ task group command ship etc. That frees up the QEC for their purpose carrier strike and destroying targets at land and sea from hundreds of miles away using stealthy 5th generation networked F35Bs.
    Do we really want a £3 billion strike carrier being used as an amphibious assault ship?
    Nonsensical and militarily incompetent. A new lphd is needed and ideally before Ocean is foolishly sold off. Another hull going in a shrinking navy. “year of the navy”
    my arse!

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