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’.