Following coverage on BBC Online & Mirror Online yesterday, the Daily Mail reports that HMS Ocean is to be decommissioned early, citing no mention of it in Monday’s SDSR.

On the contrary, Defence Minister Earl Howe spoke about the decommissioning during the House of Lords SDSR debate on Monday. The government position is as follows:

“HMS Ocean will not decommission early and will continue in service as planned well into this Parliament. As part of the SDSR process, the decision was taken not to extend her and to decommission her in 2018, in line with her 20 year life span.”

The Ministry of Defence confirmed the move would happen in 2018, when HMS Ocean “reached the end of her life”, this has long been planned.

HMS Ocean is the Royal Navy’s helicopter carrier and amphibious assault ship designed to deliver troops to the centre of the action by helicopter or by landing craft. Her flight deck can operate six helicopters at once with space in the hangar to hold, transport and maintain many more aircraft.

The build of the vessel was to commercial standards, reducing costs significantly and leading to a construction spend of £154 million (£280 million in 2015), this is why the vessel has a relatively short life span.

0 0 vote
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Given its strategic value to the navy and RM it seems odd that it’s operational life could not be extended by two years until the entry into service of HMS QE, hopefully it will be held in reserve until then.


QE will not be operational until 2020


The Ocean, and specifically her crew, have served us all very well indeed. As often has happened with the UK armed Services, she has transcended her initial design specs, and it wouldn’t surprise me if she were replaced in some form, especially considering HMG’s prediliction for buying kit, as opposed to providing personnel

Mark Campbell


Paul Linfield

The SDSR is quite explicit. She’s not being replaced, but one of the two new Carriers will be modified to take on her commando carrier role.

Harry Eaton

Considering the new carriers can be configured to transport commandos as well as a number of Chinooks, Merlins and even USMC V-22 Ospreys, I think they’ll do well in that role, possibly even better in terms of helicopter assault due to a larger flight deck and more expansive flight control room. There’ll possibly be even more join missions with American Marines on these carriers too with both our forces and the USMC using the same F-35B jets.

Jishnu Manohar

Wait what…??? She was only commissioned back in 98!!! She’s got a whole lot of sailing to do. Look at us running the ol Hermes which got into service way back in 59.

That’s because HMS Hermes was designed and built as a warship.

HMS Ocean on the other hand was deigned as a merchant transport vessel – thus not as long a life from her.

Both a metric and imperial ship no less.

Andy Christie

Will HMS Ocean have a replacement by 2018?

Tom Hendrie

A ship takes at least ten years from initial design to commissioning and handover.

Harry Eaton

HMS Queen Elizabeth gets formerly commisioned in 2017.


I saw a suggestion that HMS Ocean be transferred to the RFA to replace RFA Argus. According to Wikipedia RFA Argus was launched in 1981 and commissioned in 1988. Given that it’s a modified container ship I assume that means it’s also built to commercial standards. It would be great if Ocean could be reassigned which would kick the can down the road a bit as far as replacing that capability is concerned (beyond the current plans to use the carriers). Ocean would also be a much more capable vessel than Argus.


If Uk knew that Ocean is coming to the end of life why didn’t we buy the two Mistral helicopter carriers, from France that was suppose to be sold to Russia

Bloke down the pub

What’s the odds that Ocean will find an overseas buyer, and still be in service twenty years from now?

Ross Hendrie

Will there be a replacement?

Christopher Mallon

Commercial standard ship lifespans are generally limited by condition of ballast tanks, new safety/emissions laws, or economical concerns, this vessel should be good for another 15years, unless there are MOD specific issues.

Brian Aitkenhead

She has been a struggle to keep going, every refit has been expensive

Lindsay Baker

Hopefully plans are formulated to acquire two LHD assault ships to boost the troop lift abilities when Ocean is retired

Brian Aitkenhead

There will not be a direct replacement, however one of the new carriers will be modified to help fill the littoral role, we where briefed on it today

Glenn Fergie Ferguson

Albion is coming out of refit and not being mothballed, along with the Bulwark and Argos that gives us a fair amount of capability for the size of our forces.

Martin Symes

Part of the new carriers mixed fleet included Chinooks, so A QE carrier, Albion, a couple of type 45s and 4 type26/23s would make one heck of a mixed battle group, much better than we’ve had for years.

John Harris

Just a random thought as I watch the news and reflect. If HMS Ocean is to be decommissioned in 2018, this presents a rare opportunity to turn swords into ploughs. This ship would make a perfect international aid carrier and hospital ship, taking emergency services, disaster support, medical care, surgery, education and training, etc., to areas where disasters have occurred or where people are in desperate circumstances and need. At the same time giving incredibly valuable “apprentice” opportunities to a whole generation of young people willing to give their time and energy as volunteers with such a project. The whole… Read more »


The crew from Ocean will be used to crew the second carrier HMS Prince of Wales. It is quite possible that she will be mothballed but very much still available for service if required.

Lee Hoey

Such a shame she’s a great looking ship.. Should keep her as backup or humanitarian crisises

Kev martin

If Ocean is out of service in 2018 and 1st carrier not due until 2020 how do we carry the helicopters for 3RM? From my memory the 2 LPD have no hangers and the 3 RFA LSDA have the same problem.


Originally there were to be two Ocean class ships – Theseus was cancelled. If the QE is to be used as replacement for Ocean, then she would have to be reconfigured as such. We don’t want a situation where we have the hanger deck full of camp beds, as was the case with the Invincible class! I’ll believe all this when I see it, as the only thing promised is ‘jam tomorrow’.


Originally there were to be two Ocean class ships – Theseus was cancelled. If the QE is to be used as replacement for Ocean, then she would have to be reconfigured as such. We don’t want a situation where we have the hanger deck full of camp beds, as was the case with the Invincible class! I’ll believe all this when I see it, as the only thing promised is ‘jam tomorrow’.

Michael Cox

This has been on news both in papers and TV.But its the best thing to keep hold of HMS OCEAN well beyond the arrival of both new carriers.First new carrier when starts up,will have many months of sea trials.So remove Ocean before the new carriers into service is both literal suicide and the planners needs to be walking gang plank,no brains.So get the 2 New Carriers into service,into operations first,ONLY THEN can retire the older ships,ONLY THEN,NOT BEFORE.


I believe the sole reason behind the proposed decommissioning is a shortage of manpower, not material condition! Her crew is needed to crew HMS Prince of Wales, simple answer is to increase recruitment and keep Ocean! She is a niche capability and despite what anyone says, a 65,000 carrier cannot operate in the same way as an amphibious helicopter carrier!!!

John thornton john

Fully agree with last comment .but when it comes to defence politicians have always been bloody idiots.I speak as ex veteran of Aden Cyprus etc.j