HMS Ocean which has been decommissioned from the Royal Navy prior to being sold to Brazil.
HMS Ocean was the Royal Navy’s Landing Platform Helicopter and Fleet Flagship. A helicopter carrier and amphibious assault ship, Ocean was designed to deliver troops to the centre of the action by helicopter or by landing craft.
Aviation capabilities include six helicopter operating spots on her flight deck with space in the hangar to hold, transport and maintain many more aircraft. Ocean’s complement Ship’s Company of 400 personnel included 9 Assault Squadron Royal Marines (9 ASRM), who operated the four Mk5 Landing Craft Vehicle and Personnel (LCVP), providing the projection of fighting capability ashore.
The 21,500 tonne amphibious assault ship was launched in 1995, has a top speed of 16 knots and a range in excess 8,000 miles on a single tank of fuel.
Announcing the sale of HMS Ocean, Clive Walker, head of the Defence Equipment Sales Authority which managed the deal, said:
“We have a proven track record of supplying surplus defence equipment on a government-to-government basis. The successful sale of HMS Ocean to the Brazilian navy will provide a financial return to the UK which will now be reinvested in defence.”
Brazil itself had recently 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 broke the news last 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 late last year, 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.”
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’.