HMS Ocean entered Plymouth for the last time in Royal Navy service today and was welcomed by well-wishers and flanked by landing craft and tugs firing water hoses high into the air.
The amphibious helicopter and commando carrier sailed into Devonport Naval Base with her decks lined by the crew in dress uniforms, and with the traditional 203-metre decommissioning pennant flying. She is to decommission from the Royal Navy at a ceremony in Devonport on 27th March.
The commanding officer of HMS Ocean, Captain Robert Pedre, said:
“My ship’s company and I are immensely proud to serve in HMS Ocean, the Fleet Flagship of the Royal Navy, as I am sure the people of Plymouth are proud their city has been home to the ship for nearly two decades.
Our final entry into Devonport will understandably be tinged with sadness, as we reflect on a truly remarkable operational period for HMS Ocean and the many significant achievements we have accomplished together on this great warship.
HMS Ocean’s decommissioning pennant pays testament to her extraordinary operational record spanning two decades of Royal Navy service, proudly serving as a safeguard for our nation’s interests globally.”
In her 20 years of service, HMS Ocean has been involved in operations off Sierra Leone (2000), off Iraq (2003), off Libya (2011) and, most recently, humanitarian operations in the Caribbean. The ship has conducted the evacuation of British nationals and other entitled personnel from numerous areas of conflict around the world and delivered humanitarian assistance and disaster relief to thousands in need, to name, but a few of her operational highlights.
Last year HMS Ocean completed the last three months of a seven-month operational deployment to the Middle East as Flagship of the normally US-led Combined Task Force 50, and deployed as a NATO flagship in the summer. On arriving in the Eastern Mediterranean, she rapidly responded in the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, steaming 4,500 nautical miles across the Atlantic to deliver urgent humanitarian assistance and disaster relief to four Caribbean territories over a fortnight of operations.
Recently, Brazil 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.
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”.
Earlier in the 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.”
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.