Brazil has now confirmed the purchase of British helicopter carrier HMS Ocean.

We were informed by a source in the Brazilian defence community that the vessel has been sold for £84 million.

Roberto Lopes has informed us that the purchase of HMS Ocean by the Brazilian Navy was confirmed within the last week by Brazilian Defence Minister Raul Jungmann.

We understand the first group of four Brazilian officers will head to the UK within the next few weeks.

We also understand that there are doubts over the retention of the Phalanx CIWS by Brazil but are unsure regarding the reasons why. The vessel will remain in the UK until October or November this year.

This comes not long after we reported that three more Boeing P-8 maritime reconnaissance aircraft have been ordered by the MoD and will be based at Lossiemouth. All nine will be based at Lossiemouth and this news confirms that with three more on the order books there are now a total of five confirmed orders.

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 £84.3 million pounds (312 million 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.”

A spokesperson for the MoD told the UK Defence Journal:

“Discussions with Brazil over the long-planned sale of HMS Ocean are at an advanced stage, but no final decisions have been made. HMS Ocean has served admirably with us since 1998 and the revenue she generates will be reinvested in defence as we bolster our Royal Navy with two types of brand new frigates and two huge aircraft carriers.”

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’.

97 COMMENTS

    • too late a satisfactory stop gap should have been put in place long before now. i suggested the removal of the superstructure of a bay class, then fit a ‘flat top’ onto it.

  1. This might not be a disaster if they planned to use the money to help pay for a replacement but I have a feeling they won’t.

    • It isn’t a disaster, this has been mapped in for years…actually ever since the QE class got maingated!

      £84million is not going to be even close to paying for a like for like replacement in today’s Money.

      Don’t get me wrong Ocean is a nice to have but the priority is getting Type 26 and Type 31 into service. As both types will most likely get Flex decks and Merlin/Chinook capable landing pads it gives the RM the chance to embed themselves back into the fleet operating directly in small parties from the Frigate fleet not unlike how things were done prior to WW2.

      • There’s no chance for a seventh 45, hell just spending it on the 45 repair program would be an idea, or the manpower issue.

  2. Brazil doesn’t operate Phalanx and the UK stockpile is pooled so the systems on Ocean may have already been allocated to another vessel.

    • Nah,
      there will be some poor little terrorist group somewhere looking forward to a huge lotto win from this traitorous government

  3. So long, the best value ship in the navy.

    By all accounts seems like she was tired so the decision to sell was probably right.

    What is wrong IMO is the lack of replacement.

    #TeamTory #PartyOfDefence #Alternative? #HappyNewYear

  4. Good decision and a good, if not great deal for the RN.

    I suspect at this price it does not include 3 Phalanx which I suspect the RN needs for itself.

    Time to upgrade to the QE’s and hopefully helps in retaining Albion, bulwark and the Bays. These 7 ships when put together still constitute a fairly large capability. In fact we don’t actually have enough aircraft in the whole of our operational force to fill them all completely I suspect, so a good decision overall and the Brazilians are getting a great ship at a great price.

  5. The crew of Ocean will join those already on HMS Prince of Wales in the near future. PoW is being adapted during fitting out to operate as an amphibious assault ship as well as a strike carrier. In this role she will carry more assault troops and helicopters than Ocean ever could. In addition to the Merlin’s, Chinooks, Wildcats & Apaches, PoW will be able to operate with a flight of F35b’s in the force protection role.
    Ocean was built down to commercial standards and was only intended to have 20 year old RN career. Her sale has long been known.

  6. “We also understand that there are doubts over the retention of the Phalanx CIWS by Brazil but are unsure regarding the reasons why. The vessel will remain in the UK until October or November this year.”

    I can explain that easily:

    1) Brazil doesn’t operate Phalanx, the cost of adopting it into service for one ship is probably not worthwhile. They will most likely strip the four Dual mount Simbad launchers fitted to the NAA São Paulo along with a few other sub systems like the MAGE ET/SLR-1X ESM Equipment fitted during the 2005-12 refit and transfer to Ocean.

    2) UK MOD probably wants recycle the Phalanx Mounts on Ocean back into the fleet, as they are a bolt on item which is needed on other vessels there seems little point reducing the UK Phalanx mount pool selling them to Brazil when they don’t operate it in the first place and will more than likely take them off anyway.

    • Agreed. It would be crazy to sell off Phalanx when 8 T26 are planned, each needing 2 Phalanx, to replace 8 T23 that carry none. That’s +16 on the fleet Phalanx requirement without counting whatever might be on T31 plus a pool is still needed for the various RFA vessels if they aren’t all permanent fix. The RN needs all the Phalanx that it can get.

      • I wouldn’t be surprised if they were fitted to HMS QE, even though it is supposed to have 4 it will prob sail with one mount missing.

        • Agreed, but the statements aren’t mutually exclusive. The RN needs all the Phalanx it can get even for the inadequate number of ships currently proposed let alone if it had the minimum number of ships it needs.

  7. No surprise that that she is being sold off and at least she is not being scrapped. If the RN have been promised that 84 million it should be used to push up the personnel numbers.
    The drive now is to make sure that Albion or Bulwark are not sold off as well.

  8. I expect BAE will be awarded a contract soon worth £84m to “prepare” Oceam for sale like the £131m they got to prepare the sale of 3 T23s to Chille for the price of £131m!

  9. And no doubt a QE carrier with an Albion or Bay can replace Ocean.
    But it can’t do that and respond to the next natural disaster as Ocean recently did and go on routine ASW and diplomatic patrols and represent the UK and so on.
    Our new ships are all very impressive, but, we just don’t have enough of them to do routine things let alone to cope with events.
    At the very least they should have kept Ocean until both carriers were up and running.

    • If it came to it Queen Elizabeth could be brought in for hurricane relief by the time the next hurricane season comes around in 2018.

    • Actually we have a spare bay and Albion Class tied up at any point in time – so we can respond the humanitarian emergencies as they occur.

      Sadly the foreign aid budget does not contribute a single penny to the force assets it so often uses (although it probably pays for the mission itself.

      So in Summary – we will retain the ability to conduct emergency deployments – but something needs to happen to fund the purchase of these items instead of just taking them for granted.

    • Horses for courses. I would favour the Bays and new FSS hopefully with 2/3 helo landing spots and a well dock for humanitarian aid situations. Argus did a fine job in Sierra Leone fever situation and the Bays are better suited for hurricane relief.

      • Karel Doorman design can provide this (instead of a well dock – how about some S2S hovercraft) and would be a great addition to the RFA.

        We should be buying 9 of these and another 4 Tides over the next 25 years to give us more flexibility (1 every 2 years) to get our force balanced and avoid ships being under used and then put up for the chop all the time.

        Even if this means we provide 4 on a rotating basis (2 operational at any one time) to the UN for humanitarian aid purposes, at least it means the capability is there should we need it. Smarter use of the Foreign Aid Budget to build up the RFA is a must.

        • Good thoughts. I did write to my MP suggesting that the National Shipbuilding strategy should be changed so as to include RFA vessels and a dedicated hospital ship funded by the overseas aid budget. I live in hope.

    • whatever option is used if god forbids they ever actually go to war, they would need an escort group like the carriers imagine the news papers major navy ship sunk 2,000 marines and crew feared lost.

  10. Looks like they are in the market for an aircraft carrier as well. A chance for the UK to flog one of the 2 white elephants and reinvest the money and manpower back where it is needed most

    • the french want a carrier too so that they can retire de gaulle maybe let them buy p.o.w and give us a mistral as part of the deal?

      • No chance.

        If we have a carrier capability we need 2 so one is always available.

        The French could not operate Rafale off the POW.

        • Paul – We tried that 10 years ago. They called it the ‘PA-01’ (Porte Avions). We played the French game, paid french outfits loads of dosh and then when it came to cutting steel and paying real money the French baled out. So rather than have a 3 (possibly 4) ship build with all the economies of scale that would bring we ended up with two.

          And here is a thought: Had the french stayed in the Typhoon programme (and not done to THAT what they did to QE) we WOULD have had a Naval Typhoon and all QE / PA-01 ships would have been CATOBAR as the costs of EMCAT (or EMALS) would have been shared between two Governments

  11. Who the hell sells a ship which has £65 million spent on it in 2014 for £84 million. Makes Poundland look like Harrods.

    That people is the quality of British MPs and civil servants today. Who care more about terrorists and those who hate us rather than th people who pay their wages.

    • It is not that simple, the £65million spent was to make the bare minimum repairs and upgrades to get her through to OSD and paying off. It is relative peanuts considering the work required, until you are talking Billions of pounds it is pocket change really! We are actually getting a damn good deal, by all accounts her Engines are shagged and the Fire-main is rusted through making it a maintenance nightmare. Even worse to keep the price down when she was built many of her systems from pumps through to winches and electronics were end of line items making them difficult and expensive to repair or replace. Considering the poor material state of HMS Ocean it is telling how desperate the Brazilians were when we put her up for sale! The Naa Sao Paulo ex Foch (the French walked away laughing considering she was a dangerous worn out piece of junk) had her refit cancelled and she was paid off because she was basically a death trap!

      Brazil is buying Ocean to keep their toes in the Carrier game until they can afford to build a new CATOBAR carrier if at all, CATOBAR is a First World rich nations game and frankly only American and China can really afford it. France can only afford to operate one CATOBAR carrier and she spends a large amount of the time in Toulon being patched up and repaired!

    • If we had not spent £65 million on her we wouldn’t be getting £85 back. Without the refit she would be scrap with very little value.you have to speculate to accumulate. Also when we refitted her we expected to use her until 2020 at least, now however it makes much more sense to flog her and transfer crews (and CIWS) to the CVF programme.

    • Bit like selling your old car. Got to pay to put decent tyres on it and give it an MOT or it won’t sell at all and you have to pay someon to take it away. That’s life. We have had our money’s worth out of Ocean and Brazil has got a good deal. Sao Paulo cannot be economically fixed. I’ll bet Brazil will get a good 10 years out of Oean; plus carrier kudos and a great humanitarian aid ship for South America. Plus eelarionship building with the UK for future sales of Type 26 or Type 31 or cast off Type 23s.

  12. My god what a mess.
    another hull gone
    another capable ship lost
    so much for the year of the navy. Utter disaster.
    The Tory party are a joke (albeit a bad one) the problem is there is no viable alternative.
    why can we not get a purpose built alternative ordered in today/ now.
    Ocean was a massively successful ship, cost peanuts but has done everything asked of her.
    She was without any doubt our most capable, popular and hard working warship, now she is going to Brazil, who will no doubt keep her in service for another 10 years.
    We need a replacement lph asap
    we need to either raise taxes or increase defence budget significantly whilst ruthlessly reducing down wastage, poor procurement and crap project management. It is time we stopped paying lip service to defence and actually got serious about how perilous the Royal Navy is and how whittled away our armed forces are.
    only significant uplift in budget and manpower can stop this rot.

    • Roughly speaking I would see QE as the primary strike carrier and POW as the primary LPH with both able to switch roles after QE first refit. If we keep the LPDS and the Bays and given that every OPV and escort can lilly pad a Merlin I would say we still had respectable expeditionary credentials.

      • No need – the QEC’s can each hold 70+ aircraft so each could have 32-36 F35’s and the same in Helicopters.

        No need for either to be dedicated to a specific role when they can do it all. Clearly however if they have 500 marines on board then this means a reduction in aircraft but you could still get 24 units on the decks without any issues so likely to be 12 F35’s and 24 helicopters of varying types.

        I wonder if the POW will have the ability to launch CB90’s or landing craft from its launch bays – if so this could certainly help in it meeting its amphibious roles.

        Does anyone know the details of these bays please?

      • Both QEs are essential to enable us to be able to have 1 CTG at any time. It’s a tag team where 1 is active & availiable whist the other undergoes essential work to prepare for operations. Removing the POW to LPH duties undermines the whole CTG capabilty they’ve been built to fulfill. The QE & POW are far too large & valuable to hazard close to shore in the LPH role, it would be reckless negligence & misuse of huge vital assets & needlesly hazard the 1,000s of crew. That’s why LPH are uually smaller vessels. We need a similar replacement but don’t have the dosh to fund what we have, let alone build what we need. That’s why we’ve had stupid capability gaps across the armed forces.
        I’d cancel HS2 & either use it to improve the existing network or ensure we fund the T31 program.

    • Mr Bell you clearly know very little about the state that Ocean is currently in and why keeping her any longer would be of no benefit.

    • all shore training establishments should end training on the same day to allow ‘large scale drafting to those ships in most need.

    • There’s no way the government can ethically justify raising taxes, top rate tax payers shoulder almost all the tax burden and have almost HALF their income taken. It’s criminally unfair to demand more.

      Big savings can be made by scrapping Foreign Aid and dealing with the NHS’ budget blackhole in it’s bureaucracy and inefficiency and cutting

  13. Yes.. That’s why i think the UK has built the perfect multi-role carrier for our needs, two 70,000 tonne carriers that will have a lot of punch.

  14. I have a felling the FSL has a bit of a master plan and is cutting dead wood in order to reinvest men and materials into higher priorities.

    I would like to see a published strategy that shows where we will be in 5-10-15-20… years time and to get another batch of T31’s on the blocks.

    I live in hope…

    • FSL is too canny to publish a strategy. Have to check my rose coloured specs but tend to agree on the master game plan. POW replaces Ocean, QE is the strike carrier, keep the LPDs, finish 8 Type 26, 5 or 6 River 2s and aim for 10 Type 31s with Wilcat and that’s a balanced global fleet. A few more pieces of the jigsaw to go.

      • The US publish their strategy and its hardly Top Secret as most of this is open domain. It would certainly help improve the confidence of the UK’s industrial base if this was public knowledge and not just for the RN, but all three services need a long term procurement plan.

        Its all this stop start nonsense that is creating massive backlogs, lack of continuity that create skills shortages and put it all together increases cost.

        Lets put an end to this by some simple scheduling and a commitment to fund at a set level. My analysis suggests £10bn pa spent on new equipment (that is the cost of the asset only and not its total cost of ownership) would allow each service to deliver far greater capability and volumes than currently supported.

        • No argument – all correct. Where there’s a will there’s a way. Problem is the various interest groups in the UK governance and political landscape have their own agenda and there is no tradition of or disposition to reach consensus. UK cultural problem I’m afraid. Leads to criminal waste.

  15. * sorry to see the HMS Ocean go, been a fantastic ship for the RN… But of course she is 20 years old now. I’m just keeping my fingers crossed when it comes to the LPD’S.. If we keep the LPD’S then at least with the two large carriers and Bay class ships plus RO/RO vessels the UK can still mount an effective amphibious operation.

  16. Agree with you Pacman , about the type 31’s.. Second batch would get the numbers of escorts back into the numbers where the UK should be..

  17. What is obvious and seems to get total agreement is that HMS Ocean has been a hugely successful ship although given her commercial hull there must have been a concern about her ability to absorb damage. She has been very well used in her RN career and shows what you can do on a limited budget in a similar way to the Bays.
    For that reason she demonstrates that with some thought the Type 31 could be a real success for the RN by allowing an increase in hull numbers and a longer production run by not opting for another gold plated platform that we cannot actually afford.
    Ideally she should be replaced as using a supercarrier as an LPH is insane and only makes sense to the bean counters in HM Treasury. Perhaps the replacements for the Albion class will achieve this although they in themselves should have done that when they replaced Fearless and Intrepid.

    • couldn’t agree more – we need to commit to building 1 T31 per year indefinitely (we can change to T32 at a later date). This will allow us to sell off mid life, thereby avoiding complex and costly maintenance spend and to ensure our people have the best and newest possible kit.

      It also means we can work them a bit harder and I think 3 crews to 2 ships could become the new norm. This would ensure we can have 1 of the 2 ships always at sea. with a crew on leave / home port, a crew working up and a crew on station.

      Commitment to a drumbeat is what is now required, we can have a balanced 75 ship fleet that delivers significant punch, but it means us moving to multi role products in all non combat areas and a focus on escorts and subs.

      • best and newest kit is the surest way to inflate the cost of the r.n. its more important that the kit enables ships to carry out the duties they were designed for

        • they can still be the best – for a start they can be the best value…

          Best doesn’t mean gold plated – I think our mine hunters and T23’s in their time have shown this.

          It also doesn’t mean blank cheque – it does mean the best we can provide.

  18. This is a BAD decision brought about solely by a chronic manpower shortage! We simply can’t crew POW with existing numbers without killing off Ocean. This is a loss of Capability, she is in a reasonable material condition with her last refit due to take her through until 2022. The crazy thing is that POW is Not Being fitted out to replace Ocean in the LPH role and never will be!! Under no circumstances is the RN going to Operate a QE in a Littorial Water LPH role – FACT.

  19. Phalanx is a USA weapon system used under licence in U.K. The US DoD has strict rules onselling to third parties.
    The same rules that prevented Australia from purchasing Trafalgar class SM in the 80s due to the reactor technology from the US.

  20. i’d like to bring peoples attention to the specs of the signma 10145 corvette, compare them to a river opv th sigma is300 tons lighter, 37 feet longer,8 2 feet wider, knots faster, has 20 more crew, yet comes with a 76mm main gun, twin triple tube torpedo tubes,two quad anti air missile launchers and 3 exocet. maybe the fleet could be augmented by adapting the rivers to this heavy corvette, light frigate standard

    • Too large a crew requirement compared to River 2 OPV and a bit lightweight for the Type 31 frigate spec ( 4000 tons 115 metres).

      • It is kinda strange that the River 2 have not been fitted for better equipment, but I guess the UK doesn’t have that many medium/light armament options to fit them with, since it has focused on high end.

        • This article is worth a read.
          http://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2016/06/thoughts-batch-2-river-class/
          Lots of politics around the River 2s. HM Gov were committed to pay BAE something every year regardless of whether they built anything. Crazy contract and the Type 26 design wasnt ready so we got make do OPVs. Why aren’t they armed like Sigma corvettes? Good question, probably because the Treasury would say you don’t need any expensive frigates then. Welcome to the Alice in Wonderland world of UK defence procurement. The good news is the River 2s have a long range, excellent sea keeping and systems, a large helo deck and accomodafion for a fair number of marines. At a pinch and given a containerised Scan Eagle or similar I reckon they could manage a Captain Phillips pirate rescue.

    • Andy

      I agree with you but will go even further – we could do away with the Rivers totally (over time) and move to more T31’s and a fleet of Safeboats Mark 6 Patrol vessels armed with a version of Brimstone and a beefy automated gun. You could buy 10 for the price of 1 River and then concentrate on the T31’s.

      Until we get a firmer strategy in place though – I think your idea is sound.

  21. People need to stop it with the whole POW thing, she is not a suitable replacement for ocean. Indeed RFA Argus is a better replacement. That being said ocean had to go and for 84 million, I’d personally say we got a good deal.

    • Succinctly put. I don’t see the RN getting a direct Ocean replacement. I suspect the calculation is that if we retain the LPDs then with QE, POW, Argus and the Bays we have sufficient of both flat top capacity and well dock capacity. It’s just that these capabilities are not ideally configured and the RN will have to work a bit harder to deploy them. I see it as a kind of eccentric RN algebra: POW+ Albion or Mounts Bay = Mistral.

      • Yes agreed. Except what the politicians forget is a QE class carrier is to big a target to be brought close in to land, and that to support a amphibious operation you need control of the sea and air. Sometimes the POW could not provide if it was being used as a LPH.

        • Harry – The QEC’s can hold over 70 aircraft each (Capt J Kydd) and I am led to believe the POW will be able to hold 900 RM’s at a push, although I suspect at the cost of said 70 aircraft.

          They don’t need to come in close to shore – it will be helicopter lift with fast jet cover from the POW and Landing Craft from the Albions and Bays (if we were ever stupid enough to launch a large scale amphibious attack on our own).

          We have for the past 5 years had 1 Albion and 1 bay class constantly tied up and whilst I accept that Ocean has been a marvellous servant, the arrival of the QE’s puts the RN into a totally different league of operations.

          I do see the need for our Solid Support ships to be more able in their role and think this is already being factored in – the Karel Doorman class is the current benchmark for what can be achieved with this class and even the Norwegians seem to have done more with their smaller version of the Tide class than we have done with ours and we really do need to start being far smarter on how we make support vessels more flexible.

          QE’s are much more flexible than Ocean that it isn’t even a close competition. Mistrals are great ships – no doubt, but it is not going to happen and nor should it. Push comes to shove we have all the assets we require and more.

          I personally think we need to concentrate on our asymmetric ability rather than the big set pieces – as we have neither the budget nor personnel to man a big fleet anymore we should change tack and look to saturate with smaller vessels.

          A blend of the two – would give us a lot of options and I think the small vessel fleet needs a massive investment. Its not just about the big ships.

          • The general belief is that a QE can hold 50 aircraft. Don’t know where your getting 70 from. To provide air cover for a fleet and landing force you’d need a minimum of 24 F35. Then you need 5-8 Merlin equipped with AWACS capacity. Then another 10 for anti submarine hunting. So would only be able to take a small force of helicopter to support an amphibious operation. Even if you could fit 70 aircraft you’d just end up as the japs did at midway where they have to many aircraft and to much to do for one ship.

        • Broadly speaking I agree with Pacman. QE class is a game changer because of its shear size and the F-35B. Also note the RN is quietly investing in what looks like a distributed LPH architecture. You can dispatch or lilly pad 24 RM in a Merlin from a River 2 or a Type 31; double that in a Chinook from a Type 26. River 2 has decent inshore force protection armament against FAC.
          I see the RN as having a lot of expeditionary options in the future.

  22. Do folks on here understand the role of an LPH? If they did they would understand why a QE will never operate in the role regardless of the bullshit bring served up by certain press agencies. An LPH is designed to land heavily armed troops in rapid helicopter movements, accomplished by lying less than 6 miles off shore enabling minimum flight time and maximum sorties per helo without the need to refuel, whilst manouvering within coastal waters .QE with its long length, wide beam and deep draught is designed to project air power from deep water, LPH with much shorter length, narrower beam and shallower draught designed to operate if required in Coastal waters.

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