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HMS Ocean will soon embark on her final deployment before the helicopter carrier is taken out of service.

The helicopter carrier will assume the role of Flagship for the Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 during the deployment. She will sail this afternoon.

Captain Robert Pedre said:

“My ship’s company and I very much look forward to assuming the role of a NATO Flagship. HMS Ocean is an incredibly capable amphibious and command platform and represents a significant UK contribution to NATO’s efforts to maintain security in the Mediterranean region.”

The vessel will decommission on at the end of March next year.

We reported recently that the Brazilian Navy has 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”.

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 someone we spoke to currently on-board the vessel, there are 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.

45 COMMENTS

  1. Disaster- I thought according to our defence secretary and prime minister that the age of defence and capability cuts was over- obviously not.
    More lies, lies, lies by our politicians, who are playing with fire by cutting capabilities like airborne amphibious strike. It is utter madness to propose utilising a £3 billion QE class strike carrier close inshore or in restricted coastal waters- like the Baltic area for example to conduct an amphibious landing- far more sensible tactically and strategically to purchase a purpose built replacement LPH for Ocean- she has proven herself a very successful vessel and only cost £200million to build- I would be happy with a slightly improved exact replacement if that is all we can afford. We cannot allow as a nation to lose our amphibious strike capability. The Brazilians are going to be getting a very capable platform for just £80 million- a vessel recently upgraded to serve until at least 2023, however I think the Brazilians will operate her well into the 2030’s.
    Still no reply to Fallon and my MP or reply from my emails to the MOD expressing my concern over this decision and the general state of the RN currently.
    Can all those who read and comment on articles on this site please feel empowered to do the same- write to your MP, the MOD and the press- it is high time those with an interest in defence matters and our armed forces got much more politically savvy and used our democratic processes to push for a change in current mind-set.

    • Whilst I agree I doubt it would make a diffrence. Politicans take note only when there’s great nationa outrage, and the shortsighted people of this country will only notice when we enter WW3 and start trying to find someone to blame for the shoddy state of our armed forces.

    • When Ocean was purchased she had 2 roles, as an amphibious landing/support ship and a helecopter carrier. Now we have 2 newer Bulwark class amphibious landing platforms to fulfill the first role meaning she’s not needed for that, and after the new frigates arrive all of our escorts will be carrying there own helicopters, the Bulwark class can accommodate several for support, and the new carriers are designed to have multiple helicopters as well, meaning there’s no need for her for that reason.
      Furthermore, though she could still have use for a few years more if we wanted, Ocean soaks up a large chunk of manpower without offering much in return (she requires about 2/3 the crew of a QE or 2 type 45’s), given the navy’s current manpower issue it just isn’t effective to keep her in service.

      • Ocean is not an Amphibious landing ship, she is a helicopter platform and there is no such class as the Bulwark Class! Albion was the first of class of our latest LPD, Landing Platform Dock!

    • Sorry – I support the decision. We cannot afford to keep her. The sensible decision would have been not to blow billions on huge aircraft carriers we can’t afford and can’t protect and can’t man.

      Too late now. We have the carriers, so something in the Navy budget has to go to compensate. In this case, OCEAN.

      The MOD budget is accelerating beyond the UK’s means to pay for it.

  2. The amphibious aviation capabilities of the new HMS Prince of Wales which is being enhanced and modified during her construction will far outstrip anything Ocean has to offer.
    PoW will be able to launch 10 to 14 helicopters from her vast deck simultaneously to insert a company of RM.
    The PoW will operate with an LPD and two LSD’s to land a lead commando battle group of 1800, with far greater rotary support than at present.
    And of course in time a number of F35b’s could be deployed as force protection alongside the support helicopters.
    Even the QE will have a permanent SPTG on board of up to 300 RM with 4 HC4’s while she is being deployed in the deep strike role.
    Compared to the two new carriers Ocean is looking very constrained and limited in capability.

    • i’d say the r.n should revisit the past, remove the upper superstructure ,fit a full length deck, the specs of ocean and a bay class are nearer than many would believe.the q.e is a carrier, and should be used as one.

    • What you say about PoW is very interesting. This range of modifications to broaden its role could mean that both hulls will be in operation mode simultaneously? I feared we would see a similar policy as Bulwark and Albion, where neither are at sea at the same time. At some point, QE will have to receive up grades and refit, but hopefully not the four to five years as seen with Bulwark and Co?

  3. I notice yet again that there is no mention of her home port
    If it was Portsmouth it would be Portsmouth this and Portsmouth that but as usual as it not a Portsmouth based ship all that is said is that she is sailing today

      • That may be so but what im trying to say is if a ship sails from there or is involved in something thats in the news its HMS so and so but if its from Portsmouth its always Portsmouth based is mentioned
        Its as though Devonport dosn’t exsist even though its the largest navel base in Europe and the only refiting and fueling base in the UK for our Trident subs
        Not forgetting the main base for the amphibious forces of this country
        Oh and the fact that its also the home of FOST
        And the fact that Drake Raliegh Cook Darwin Etc sailed from there on all there voyages
        Oh and lets not forget the Mayflower
        So Andy Reeves i think Devonport has as much kudos as Portsmouth dont you ?

  4. Jack- you are missing the point- amphibious operations are by their nature very high risk and amphibious shipping thus has to be prepared to take these high risks- hence why a £200 million LPH like Ocean is a far superior idea than a £3 billion QE carrier fitted out for this role.
    The RN has only agreed to Ocean being sold off early because they would not have enough manpower to man the QE’s and Ocean within current personnel levels.
    This is a defence cut by definition and a lose of a key capability.
    Thus it is tactical and strategic madness and makes zero military sense. The QE class should be out in deep water protected by waves of F35Bs, type 45 destroyers, astute class subs and type 23 frigates not operating close inshore conducting amphibious operations. There needs to be an urgent rethink on this issue, retain Ocean until 2023, uplift RN manpower to allow this, build a replacement LPH.

    • There’s been a lot of criticism of her material state etc. But if we had bought 2 the same as the Carriers they’d have aged a lot more gracefully and had a much longer operational life for a ridiculously small cost.

      • albion and bulwark, confuse me, why build such big sips and arm them with nothing more than a stoker with a catapult and a bag of conkers? these are capital ships. imagine the the headline, 400 troops drowned as ship is sunk.

    • i’ve never understood why shore ‘passing out parades are not scheduled for the same dates, otherwise, a full draft toidentified ships could be planned in advance

    • Why oh why do people say “uplift”? The correct word is “increase”…….sorry but this obsession with jargon gets out of hand.

      The only way to increase RN manpower is to seek compensating cuts from elsewhere in the RN – this is why the RM remain under threat.

      Wages contribute to a huge proportion of the MOD budget. By all means, the MOD could increase the RN manning overall, but the money would have to come from getting rid of more RN capabilities and projects and equipment.

  5. The Royal Navy has to be attractive enough to retain people before people start talking about uplift. Then, when you do uplift, who pays the eventual pensions? Now add in the Brexit effect on the Pound and did anyone hedge the US Dollar when buying equipment? There is no manpower and no money. Face it.

    Finally, Mr Bell talks about ships designed for littoral combat and QEC not being suitable.

    Two points, any ship in the Baltic is going to be a bullet magnet. Secondly, Ocean was not built to military standards.

    • I read that the MOD did hedge the US Dollar but that this is coming to an end shortly, so the full effect of the pound falling hasn’t hit home yet.

      • albion and bulwark, confuse me, why build such big sips and arm them with nothing more than a stoker with a catapult and a bag of conkers? these are capital ships. imagine the the headline, 400 troops drowned as ship is sunk.

        • They are large ships and they do have some defensive weaponry, each is equipped with 2 goalkeeper ciws system to protect against missile attack and has 2x30mm cannons for protection against small attack boats (along with the goalkeepers which use the same gun as the A-10). They do not have anything larger because they’re never going to be conducting operations without it heavy escort from ships designed to do just that.

    • when i was scrapped in 1986, nobody asked me, ‘why are you going? my answer would have been ‘i want a draftt o h.m.s ?’ then maybe if draftee had been able to find me a space, i’d have said oh alright then i’ll stay a bit longer. but nobody ever did.

    • It’s not an “uplift”; the word is increase, with the opposite being “decrease”. Unless, of course, you routinely use “downdrop”……..

  6. As much as I agree with you Mr Bell there simply are not the funds to keep Ocean and POW. I’m sure the Navy would prefer to have 2 operational carriers so that is Ocean gone. There is already a huge gap in MOD funding so I cannot see it being reversed.

    I know you are an advocate of reducing Foreign Aid to fund defence but there seems to be little political will to change that.

    If we have to sacrifice Ocean to get both QE class carriers up and running, plus get 6 Type 31s (as was suggested on this site recently) then I’m sure it was a relatively easy decision for the RN.

    • rob, talking of political will, the submarine shortage could be improved by the recommission of some of the subs in mothballs 19 of them!the needs of the service come a long way behind what the treasury thinks.many of the swiftsures who as recently as th libya conflict had been used to deliver tomahawk if they were good enough back then, they should be able to carry some of the ssn burden.(cheaper) than new builds) and fasteri nto service.

      • What about keeping the Trafalgars as well as the Astutes? I would assume they would need major overhauls and refueling. Not sure where the extra submariners would come from mind.

    • Rob – In fairness there is a political will to change how we use our Foreign Aid budget and apply more of it to underwrite ‘peacekeeping’ costs incurred by the military. It was reported today that Priti Patel, the Foreign Aid Secretary had expressed her concern about how this was viewed to some foreign oversight body and was basically told we will spend it as instructed.

      So apparently it is not only the amount we waste on ‘Foreign Aid’ but when there is political will to re-apportion it some foreigners tell us we can’t.

      Make it up (again) you couldn’t …

  7. the u.k missed the opportunity to put harriers on ocean as a stop gap for the void left by the early retirement of ark royal.

    • Not really. After the harrier axe it was between ark royal and ocean, as to see who could best operate helicopters. Had we kept the harriers chances are ocean would have been long gone.

  8. Folks here should research why Ocean was so cheap.

    Personally I wouldn’t want to go to war in her, regular death trap.

  9. Ocean was never intended for much more than 20 years, hence built to merchantile standards. Also, she apparently has numerous defects which would require major refurbishment. Long term I would like to see 3 Mistral/Juan Carlos style LHD’S to replace Ocean and the Albion and Bay classes. Not a fan of the Dutch style multi role ships though. Why send vessels which carry all your fleet stores/weapon reloads etc into harms way inshore to land troops? Just because it CAN be done in the same hull doesn’t make it right!

  10. Only the cash strapped UK could offer one of the most capable amphibious ships in the world for the price of a grp minesweeper. The PoW will never fly the white ensign sadly. It will be sold to the RAN probably for a fifth of the cost. Built simply to ensure Scottish votes for the Labour party. How ironic!
    Unless recruitment is stepped up new ships won’t matter. Did anyone see the trials of the sea brimstone? The yanks loved it. Will we develop it further? Rhetorical question of course.

  11. As has been said, Ocean has reached the end of the road, no point crying over spilt milk, she’s off, should a like for like replacement have been ordered, yep, but it hasn’t, so that’s that.

    However there does genuinely seem to be a will to operate both QE and POW concurrently, obviously they will need to stagger refits, but this gives a tremendous up lift in Helicopter carrying capability when both are available as part of the same task group.

    One with 24 plus 35B’s and the Anti Submarine / Surface / AEW /Helos, the other with Apache, Merlin, Wildcat and Chinook Transports plus a few, 6-8 F35’s.

    As for her being in danger close to the shore, well they won’t be. They don’t have Landing craft, so won’t come any closer than 50+ miles before sending waves of helps ashore.

    Albion or Bulwalk and the rest of the RFA Amphibious team will head into the shore and be serviced by the QE class transport Helos as required.

    Sea Ceptor Armed escorts will provide very robust local air defense of a landing, with T45 and F35B providing an overarching interlocking area air defense environment.
    The “beaten zone” created by this killer team will make any air attack a one way suicide trip.

    So long term, things could be a lot worse guys, not perfect, but cause for optimism I think.

  12. Sailors, escorts, F35s and a capable long-range anti-ship missile. Those are the RN’s needs. QE, POW, Albion and Bulwark provide sufficient helo and commando-carrying capability.

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