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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.

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.

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’.

25 COMMENTS

  1. Lots of folk arguing QE’s are replacement for Ocean.

    I think that’s fundamentally wrong.

    We are loosing arguably the best value hull & unique capability in the RN.

    We are gaining two new super carriers with very different capability – amazing assets for sure, but different.

    Shamefully no party is likely to fund a direct replacement.

    • Yes it is a shame she wont be replaced, but if the two carriers are operated simultaneously and Albion and Bulwark are kept in service. That is a very formidable force that only a very few nations could go up against.

      We’ll see where we are in the new year and if the new Def Sec can get what he needs from spreadsheet Hammond.

    • sale of ocean should come with the return to the R.N of the two recently upgraded and refitted type 22’s they have the loss of ocean has been known for years no indication of what will fulfil its role queen Elizabeth? An aircraft carrier must not moonlight as anything else.

  2. Its time to let her go and Brazil will get a good ship at a very decent price… Looks like a fair trade.

    QEC’s are critical to the UK so this makes sense, although we shouldn’t have been in this situation in the first place.

    MOD is missing a large chunk of common sense and basic management skills.

  3. I am not too sure why people split hairs over the terms ‘aircraft carrier’ (as in a QE) and ‘helicopter carrier’ (as in Ocean). A QE, along with its attendant carrier group, will deliver a much more emphatic impact with bigger helicopter numbers than would Ocean with her group.

    Both work as Command and Control bases and both can deliver helicopters. QE has a far better air defence suite (let alone Type 45s) Not sure where ‘moonlighting’ comes into it. Whatever the intended outcomes of a particular operation I suspect a QE will achieve it better and possibly with less use of actual force than will HMS Ocean. Let her go people its a no-brainer. Fight for Albion and Bulwark …

    • The QE class are big and therefore venerable. Also there designed to be used far out to sea launching long range jets, as they should. It would be ridiculous and dangerous for QE to get close to shore to fill fill the role of a helicopter assault ship and at the same time lose its main role as a carrier, causing us to lose areal and navy supremacy.

  4. how can Ocean replace a Clemenceau class? Whilst elderly, Clemenceau is a fleet strike carrier. Do the Brazilians fly fast air from it? Ocean is much smaller and obviously only choppers.

    Another question – we are told Ocean was built to ‘commercial’ rather than ‘military’ standards – hence a shorter service life. Why is it then she’s still good enough for another navy?

    Perhaps another example of constant hot air we get from the MoD

    • First Brazil just want a flat top show peace fast, so they probably/will have to dispense with fixed wing operations. And secondly as shown with their last carrier Brazil has low standards.

    • Unless of course they have a plan to improve capability with an upgrade of the ship and the procurement of some second-hand Harriers…

  5. Regardless of if / when there is a replacement, the crew are needed for the POW.

    Therefore yes, sell.

    As long as the LPD’s are retained capabilities are maintained.

    In the long run other ships may replace her, as the 1SL mentioned recently.

    Or, if you’re a cynical type, there will be no like for like replacement.

    The end is the same.

    • Sadly Ocean must go to crew PoW and most importantly if this sale keeps the LPDs in the RN it would be a good thing. I am quite happy with one in extended readiness as well if it keeps them both. Fearless and Intrepid were used like this for years.

  6. Just shows that the even UK built ships at the end of their hull fatigue life are desirable to others. What can we do in providing national navies and commercial customers in terms of brilliant new build ships? I’m sure a big refit for Brazil, is worth it for Brazil. We need new, and in the future, she will be replaced as this nonsense cannot go on forever. Having very little in quality in officials and politicians do not help, but then, many are serving other interests.

  7. This is history repeating it’self, we were going to scrap Ark Royal and Hermes before the Invincible class came along, after the large carrier replacement was cancelled. we were even going to sell one of the 3 Invincible class to Australia but along came the Falklands War. Why do our politicians not learn, the headline figure saved by either scrapping early without plugging the gap or not buying replacements at the right time actually costs more as other assets have to step up and or be bodged up again to remain in service longer. At least the Falklands proved that a VSTOL aircraft could operate in sea conditions that ones needing cats and traps wouldn’t have and AEW capability via suitable equiped helicopters work. I know there’s no bottom less pit of money but why don’t the penpushing accountants listen to the professional soldiers sailers and airmen and read up on history before making these decisons?

  8. the Ocean was build to commercial standards – most of the components are good for 15-20 years service and spares are almost impossible to find as they are no longer manufactured. Engines and gensets you can retro fit but wiring, water, sewerage, welfare service equipment is all worn out and would need a complete replacement. She is and always has been underpowered and the power generation equipment and circuits would struggle to support a newer and more powerful sensor suite and command/control system. She is cheap to run and amazing versatile but now is the time to let go before we end up throwing lots of money at her or suffer an Endurance type incident through corrosion and potched repairs.

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