An Elbit Systems Seagull unmanned vessel and helicopter carrier HMS Ocean participated in an exercise between the Royal Navy and the Israeli Navy.

During the exercise the USV performed a Mine Counter Measure (MCM) mission, scanning and charting a secure path for HMS Ocean. Once encountering Mine-Like-Objects, the Seagull alerted HMS Ocean to avoid them, thus securing its ‘safe route’ say Elbit.

The Seagull performed the mission while being remotely operated from a Mission Control Station onshore. Additionally, the Seagull took part in a tactical manoeuvring exercise and sailed in formation with Israeli Navy vessels HMS Ocean.

 

Recently HMS Ocean arrived home from deployment a day early as her career in the Royal Navy winds down.

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.

 

9 COMMENTS

  1. According to the BAE Systems news release just before Christmas, the new support contract JSS2 includes Ocean, Albion and Bulwark this being clearly shown and highlighted in the illustration accompanying the article. The contract lasts for seven years and expands on the original JSS maintenance support document. You wrote an article on this but left out the paragraph listing that the landing platform helicopter and LPD class of ships were included, so therefore, if this is true and no amendment to JSS2 is forthcoming, the three amphibious ships will not be decommissioned and sold off until at least 2025.

  2. Contracts can be amended. There were a number of support contracts for HMS Ark Royal that should have run to her planned out-of-service date; they must have been ‘renegotiated’ be MoD when she was retired early.

  3. Quite agree Marcus exactly as I said, but this contract was only signed in August and if it was to be changed due to the mini SDSR then three other large ships would have to be found for inclusion, or financial compensation would have to be paid in lieu of. Both QE carriers are already included in JSS2 as is RFA Argus, so surely if other large RFA’s were to be added why are they not there already?

  4. It’s is strange though. There were rumours of the sale back in August and so from that we can probably assume the MOD were considering selling the vessels. I guess they didn’t want to get into a position of having no contract in place, should the decision be reversed. I would hope they have decent break clauses in the agreement to cover this situation, but history indicates otherwise.

    We have to accept that with a limited budget and massive public debt that some capability has to be cut, and it makes sense sense to to me to focus a reduced set of capabilities, rather than be so stretched that no capability is fully equipped. It also makes some sense for this to be amphibious assault role, considering it is a pretty unlikely capability to be used in the current climate and based on modern warfare technics. I was trying to think through which alternative there is, considering the likely savings both in new equipment costs and maintenance of existing platforms and couldn’t think of one.

  5. Mike R. If that is true (please god let it be true!) I will come around to your house and give you a “new years man hug”. That will be the best start to a new year for the armed forces for years. Maybe the RN is about to get an uplift in manpower, budget etc to allow Ocean, Albion and Bulwark and all 4 river batch 1s to remain service. That would be the most sensible thing for HMG to do in these turbulent times.

  6. Yes we have a large public debt, which other major economy except for Germany does not? (Germany has no public debt as they use the EU to drive forwards their growth and a devalued Euro vs old Deutsch mark to provide an exports driven economy)
    Just because we have public debt does not mean we should abolish our best ships early or ruin our defence posture and capabilities.

  7. I see some folks are still clinging on to straws to ‘save’ HMS Ocean. I have to ask ‘Why exactly?’

    She is a great ship but is now patently redundant. She is now at the end of her operational life and will serve Brazil’s less demanding needs well. I wish her safe seas and fair winds. Or whatever that is in Portuguese.

    We do not need an LHP any more. Especially a ‘one in class’ ship. We should therefore make sure our efforts are aimed at keeping Albion and Bulwark and even building ‘Mk II’ versions slightly bigger for Challenger MBTs to be delivered and built in English, Welsh or Irish shipyards.

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