The well known but unofficial sale of HMS Ocean to Brazil has finally been confirmed.

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 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 for the next few months.

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.

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.”

A spokesperson for the MoD told the UK Defence Journal:

“Discussions with Brazil over the long-planned sale of HMS Ocean are at an advanced stage, but no final decisions have been made. HMS Ocean has served admirably with us since 1998 and the revenue she generates will be reinvested in defence as we bolster our Royal Navy with two types of brand new frigates and two huge aircraft carriers.”

According to someone we spoke to earlier in the year currently on-board the vessel, there were 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.

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’.


  1. “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.””

    I take it, the cheques in the post then

    • “We have a proven track record of supplying surplus defence equipment on a government-to-government basis.”

      That piece of self-congratulatory back slapping made me laugh, SMH.

  2. *sigh*

    Most people agree she was towards end of useful life without excessive maintenance so it’s not that she’s going that is mad, but there’s no replacement.

    Carriers are not replacements.
    Can’t be in two places at once.
    Not enough manpower or helos is another debate which I lay at ridiculous 2% straight jacket.

    Another capability gone.
    Madness for an island nation.
    Madness I say!

  3. Seeing as it is “surplus” according to the civil service, then there is no need to expensively modify the PoW to pretend to fill the same roll.

    Also, as reported elsewhere, the Navy are getting £55 million.

    “Pressed on the amount of money that would be reinvested from the sale, an MoD spokesman confirmed it expected to yield a £55 million net profit, all of which would be pumped back into naval coffers.”

    So, Britain is giving away something useful for nothing in return

    • Love Sir H. Agree the Might O has reached the end of her useful life for UK but fundamentally disagree with rest of analysis re fleet balance and use of carriers.

    • A good article but there is no real plan to rejuvenate the fleet because we are still looking at other cuts including possibly loosing the LPDs and sorry when he says “It is frustrating as a champion of the MOD deserving far better coverage than it gets” is he serious. Deserving far better? they cant organise the recruitment of new personnel as of the media today and the another contract with Capita. The MOD has been and remains a wasteful shambles….the list of cock ups is endless

      • Do you really expect a plan for this? I don’t until someone gets a grip on the spending on new equipment. The financial exposure in the current equipment plan colossal and most people who look at the published plan can spot things that are missing from the list.
        As I understand it carrier programme was and is well run, and the cost growths were directly attributable to the CATOBAR on and off mess and the slowing down of production to reduce the yearly spend of the overall defence budget, which saves money in that year, but pushes up the overall costs of that particular programme.

    • Sticking a big QE carrier close inshore to carry out the LPH role is stupidly reckless. A new modest LPH is what’s needed.

  4. The Phalanx systems will go back into the UK pool for refurbishment and reappear on a ship coming out of refit or on HMS Prince of Wales.

  5. With RFA Argus coming up for decommissioning in 2024, why not hold hold off on a replacement for Ocean for a couple of years, then replace both vessels with two new flat tops?

    Both Argus and Ocean have proved their worth, particularly in disaster relief operations which don’t exactly require the support of a large aircraft carrier.

    • Agreed, a two ship replacement for both Ocean and Argus, RFA flagged if nessasary, would be a great idea.

      A similar vessel to Ocean, but about a third bigger at 30,000 tons, able to carry 25 Helos, cargo and convertible into a Hospital ship.

  6. I don’t know if we would need a designated LPH, but would be nice. I hope this is where the Mars SSS concept comes in, multi role capabilities with the size to provide a small scale helo force to support amphib landing and disaster relief. Ideally though have a common hull and have variations suited to different roles, a flat top, couple with a well dock, hospital ship, and a several general purpose solid support.

  7. what I don’t understand is why this isn’t happening a couple of years down the line once QE is ready to take over the role of helicopter carrier. Put to one side whether the QE are best suited for the role or not, they can at least do it, or will be able to but right now we have a gap.

  8. I guess the thought is Ocean will be worth far less by that point and require heavy maintenance making her worth peanuts.
    If a crisis developed QE could be fast tracked to fill the gap.

  9. Ocean was a great ship with a tremendous service history.
    Her departure after a £45 million pound refit completed in 2014 is a loss. So her sale really only gives UK armed forces back £10 million.
    Be in no doubt we have sold her off due to lack of manpower and a lack of political will to accept SDSR 2015 was an utter disaster and the manpower cuts especially to the navy were utterly stupid incompetent and have led to this situation.
    Without Ocean we have no small flat top to conduct litteroal warfare.
    Sending a £3.5 billion strike carrier close inshore (less than 100 miles) to conduct the work of a £300-400 million lph platform is insane and against a per nation will result in the loss of a carrier due to saturation anti ship missile attack.
    The navy should order a replacement for Ocean now and stop this insanity.
    Be in no doubt this is a new additional capability gap opening up to join the many many gaps in our armed forces order of battle.


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