HMS Ocean has deployed to fill the role of flagship for NATO’s Standing Maritime Group 2.
SNMG2 is a multinational, integrated maritime force – made up of vessels from various allied nations, training and operating together as a single team – that is permanently available to NATO to perform a wide range of tasks, from participating in exercises to crisis response and real world operational missions.
Usually the Force is employed in the Mediterranean area but, as required, will be available anywhere NATO requires it to deploy.
SNMG2 carries out a continuous programme of operational training and conducts port visits to know and get known in many ports in and out of the Mediterranean, in NATO and non-NATO nations.
These include ports in nations that are part of the Partnership for Peace, Mediterranean Dialogue and the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative programmes.
The Commanding Officer of HMS Ocean, 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.
As capable as the ship is and as excellent as my ship’s company are, the key to achieving operational success is the support by families and friends back home. This will be a particularly demanding period for them as well as the ship’s company. This is recognised and appreciated at all levels.”
HMS Ocean’s deployment to SNMG2 represents the most recent in a string of Royal Navy commitments to this significant NATO task. The ship takes over the flagship role from HMS Duncan and the commander of SNMG2 is Royal Navy Commodore James Morley.
SNMG2 will host multi-national exercises, bringing together the naval forces of several nations. The Spanish and French Marines will operate with their own navies alongside the US Marine Corps and ships and aircraft from other nations, including Turkey and Greece.
According to a press release:
“HMS Ocean, a helicopter and Royal Marines carrier, will carry commandos from Taunton-based 40 Commando, US and French Marines and helicopters from 820, 845 and 847 Royal Naval Air Squadrons based in Culdrose and Yeovilton, in Cornwall and Somerset. The flagship will also embark Chinook helicopters from 18 and 27 Squadrons RAF based at Odiham for some of the deployment.
The ship is designed to deliver troops to the centre of the action by helicopter or by landing craft. The ship has six helicopter operating spots on her flight deck with space in the hangar to hold many more. HMS Ocean’s crew of 400 personnel includes Royal Marines who operate four landing craft to take forces 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.”