The Brazilian Navy has 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 £80.3 million pounds (312 million of Brazilian Reais).

Commander of the Brazilian Navy, Admiral Eduardo Leal Ferreira, claimed that the price of Ocean seemed “convenient”.

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 someone we spoke to currently on-board the vessel, there are 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’.

We have contacted the Ministry of Defence and await comment.

42 COMMENTS

  1. At the prices we’ve been paying that gets us more than half way towards buying a 6th River-class Batch 2 OPV :-(.

    If I’m honest though it is more than I feared we might have accepted and I assume it’s a lot more than we would get from selling her for scrap.

  2. Been watching the Channel 4 documentary, Warship, and even after one episode it’s obvious that the ship is old in Naval terms. Parts for the two engines are difficult to find and get hold of, and the ship’s engineers have to work hard to keep it going. Replacement engines would be a major expense were we to keep it in reserve, or for the new owners if it’s sold.

    The biggest error is not that it may be decommisioned or sold, but that there isn’t a planned replacement. As good as the QE carriers are, they aren’t really meant for the same job

  3. The fact is no matter what material state the ship is in, her crew need to be transferred to HMS Queen Elizabeth next year. The RN is desperately short of personnel and is even now sacrificing marine postings to try to get the numbers up.

    The price does seem a bit barging basement but better 80 million that can be put to good use (Harpoon modernisation/replacement) than have her rusting in Plymouth.

    • The crew from Ocean isn’t needed for HMS Queen Elizabeth, which more or less fully crewed already,but for the Prince of Wales which is being adapted for amphibious ops.

    • 33,000 personnel strong….. yet deploying a handful of vessels.

      If the manpower is show short, then what is everyone doing?

      • 33,000 personnel! not sure where you got your numbers from Joe? RN/RM total 29450 which still 3% undermanned as of Dec 16. Even with less ships deployed these days, we still have commitments that would not be classed as your typical deployments which is stretching our personnel and ships. Which often not reported on. Parliamentary approval has been given to grow the RN by 500! Wow not a great deal but enough to crew the PoW. But as report this week a lot RM roles will be moved across to the RN so we not actually gaining 500 people just a number shifting game. Mostly these will be logistical position as a chef/stores skills etc are common and can be employed on ships. Which incidentally has been happening the 12 months with the low op tempo of the RM’s now Afghan has stopped.

  4. Seems cheap but as others have said it’s better than selling her for scrap. It also has the benefit of strengthening our export relationship with Brazil. Having sold the Amazonas, the licence to build further and hopefully Ocean to Brazil, this can only be a good thing for the UK Naval systems suppliers here in the UK.

  5. Will also be interesting to see what the sale includes. Does it include the Artisan radar? If so, it could lead to further exports or Artisan to future Brazilian ships. Especially seeing it is tried and tested with Sea Cepter which they are purchasing for their corvettes…

  6. To be perfectly honest, if the QE class end up as a UK version of the America Class LPD’s I will be happy. It’s a pity we are not going full out on the carriers (48 F35’s) so there is room for them to have amphibious facilities.

    For me 8 Karel Doorman Solid Stores/Joint support ships with ship to shore hovercraft, plus the 6 Merlins/2 chinooks they are designed for would be ideal and a far cheaper replacement for our current SS ships (3), Albions (2) and Bay (3) classes as well as Argus(1) Ocean (1). If done right this would mean that we have more support ships for day to day activities that can be configured for a range of roles whilst reducing our fleet of specialised platforms by 2. Using the Aegir platform this will probably cost £1.6bn for all eight ships which is good value for money and would provide a shipyard (Cammel Laird) with a good book of work to under ping the national shipbuilding strategy.

    I think this is the right call at this point in time as we seem to have enough cover for amphib, but dont for escorts, so the priority clearly has to be escorts. The RFA ships though should be designed to be more multi-role than they currently are and that is the big issue for me.

    • I agree that they should tweak take all the older vessels listed and work on a more common but flexible platform. The RFA was designed around the style of warfare that just won’t happen again, post empire.

      We have ships like the albions, that are of little use in peace times, if they had a hanger or space for a hospital, they could be far more useful for humanitation / anti-piracy roles.

    • Pacman27 – I agree. That collection of ship classes that you listed for replacement by a good flexible Karel Doorman type of design for the new MARS SSS is spot-on. Aegir would seem a sensible starting point and I note that our super-sized Aegir used for the Tides is about 30% higher in displacement than the Karel Doorman supply ship albeit a few metres shorter and less beam. It could form the basis of a ship with an awful lot of carrying capacity and internal space. If the Aegir design is as flexible as it seems to be though I would still be inclined to stretch it a bit if necessary to ensure 2 Chinook-sized spots on it without compromising any deck layout for RAS.

      The beauty of an SSS is the “solid” bit, lots of human-accessible storage areas that in a clever design can offer the ability to reconfigure designated sections for extra hangar space, troop transport or hospital space if required.

      As a final point, since a fair bit of the tasking in peace time is likely to be humanitarian missions – for which a ship with space for lots of supplies, the aviation and other facilities to land them, hospital facilities, plus space and accommodation for command and control staff would be absolutely ideal – I really do think that the aid budget should make a contribution to getting to the number of hulls you mention plus budget to fund some percentage of the crew and other running costs.

  7. The two carriers will probably lay alongside until a good overseas offer comes in for them and then goodbye………………

    • What a stupid attitude. I’m so pissed off with armchair warriors like you def’ing the forces. Grow up and get a pair.

  8. Sad state of affairs. Losing HMS Ocean opens up another capability gap (decommissioned without replacement). Using a £3billion strike carrier for lphd role is tactically insane.
    what the RN needs is hulls, ships in the water, if loosing hms ocean means we can actually man hms POW then that is fine, but what about other warship orders? Only 8 type 26 frigates is not enough, only 7 astute class is not enough, only 5-8 of the proposed type 31 is not enough.
    if we cannot afford a specifically designed lphd replacement for hms ocean or enough frigates, submarines or personnel to man them why did we spend £13 billion last year on foreign aid?
    the government are failing at their primary duty, the defence of the realm.

    • You want to pay more tax? Tell HMRC and I’m sure they will be glad to take more from you.

      If not, shut the the hell up.

  9. Good point about using the money earned from the sale of HMS Ocean to purchase in anti ship missiles. £80 million would buy 70+ Norwegian antiship missiles. It is a start, enough to kit out the type 45s and some of the type 23s with 10-12 missiles per ship.

    • I would love to see the 80m ploughed back into the RN in the form of new ASMs as you mentioned above but it will never happen. That money will ‘disappear’ and I fear this government has become used to – and comfortable with – capability gaps.

      Given what is going on now with the Russians, if it ever did come to an all out shooting war (which I don’t believe will happen but I also never expected 59 Tomahawks to be fired at Syria) then we are severely screwed.

      I hope HMG and Fallon in particular are taking stock – once capabilities, ships, tanks and aircraft are scrapped, it takes YEARS to bring them back. Worst of all is that Putin knows this; he may be many things but he IS cold and calculating and he knows the only one who will stand up to him us Uncle Sam – as always.

  10. Looking at my calendar it is April 12th…… what happened to the National Ship Building Strategy?

    Ahhhh… I remember now, it’s safely tucked away in Fallon’s desk drawer…… thanks Michael!

    • It had big words and was longish. I blame Parker for not using more cartoons.

      He hinted other day about the rUK build, Clyde fitting and “at least” again.

  11. The navy has a bit of a problem, which is there has been no war in a long time (falklands?) since we really needed one. All the recent wars have been more about lopping missiles from the sky or counter insurgency operations, requiring highly mobile but ultimately lightly armed ground forces. This means that there is no political will to invest, simple because where is the PR news stories that make the politicians look great.

    The carriers will be great for the current world, park it near a country you want to bomb and run some operations with nice news coverage of jets taking off and landing from the carriers.

    The escorts don’t really have a job currently and let’s face it a destroyer or frigate is massively overkill for anti-piracy / smuggling operations. Everyone knows we need them, but they are being cut because its not a current need and that’s all politicians think about.

    However, if the Navy does some smart thinking, it could work on slowly replacing the bays/albion/argus with a single platform, that could be used cross purpose. Keep it as flexible as possible, so for peace times make sure it has plenty of room for taking aboard people for humanitarian purposes and has a decent sized hanger / landing space, to run multiple helicopters for the same purpose and do general mother ship operations for piracy operations. Chuck in room for a hospital or a containerized one and then they have a PR machine that could be used all over the world and push for more crew.

    The advantage of this is that all these features are also useful in wartime.

    The bays/albions/argue all have limitations currently, which means they aren’t as flexible as they could be, mainly because they were designed around a former war situation that hasn’t existed since the fall of the empire. Saying that, if designed cleverly enough, with enough flexibility, the replacement could also do the classic roles also.

    This would probably mean a cut in numbers, but better to do it with a strategy of having better multi use platforms, than the current plan of just letting platforms go without a replacement plan.

    • Absolutely. Also, a year or so ago the answer to a freedom-of-information request about per-ship RN running costs for the previous year was posted on the ThinkDefence web site. The thing that struck me was how expensive the Albion class was to run, each ship more than Ocean I seem to remember. The figures were mostly proportional to crew complement but Albion & Bulwark were anomalies. Maybe it’s the cost of rotating one into standby all the time, maybe they have lots of failures, maybe it’s just the case that the active one is constantly tasked, but whatever it was they were expensive. In today’s cash-strapped environment a modern newly-designed common platform should give us the opportunity to make low running costs a high priority using whatever lesson we can learned from the carriers and possibly also from T26 design.

  12. If we move this standardisation argument on a bit, as you all know I would also like to see the retirement of the OPV and mine hunter fleets in favour of more escorts, once again this is about removing specialist assets (even great ones) and providing a more resilient platform with in the case of the mine hunters the mine countermeasures system.

    This again gives us flexibility of perhaps running these from a spartan or venator class T31 with the T26 eventually taking over from the T45.

    For me we can have a navy with 8 or so core hull types for large vessels and 5 for the smaller vessels and this will give us far more flexibility than the current mush mash of assets all requiring different spare parts (which is madness in itself).

    Time for a massive re-org and a 25 year plan to deliver 3 ships per year, every year indefinitely. 75 major ships and subs sounds about right to me, as long as we have the smaller vessels to provide an asymmetric threat as well. Ultimately the navy needs £10bn p.a. To run a force of both size and quality and I dont think they are anywhere near this budget.

  13. Paceman. I would be happy with a navy that can just meet its current commitments and therefore by default offer an adequate defence of the UK.
    something like
    2 QE carriers, 2 new lphds, 3 bay class, 6 type 45s, 8 ASW type 26s, 10-12 type 31s, 4-6 type 26 batch 2 optimised for surface strike and ASW, 7 astute, 3 retained trafalgars for special forces/ lower threat area patrols whilst building a further batch of 3-4 more astutes. The smaller war fighting vessels should be replaced by a modular hull form that can be tasked by dropping equipment modules into place. A 800-1200ton vessel would suffice for all antimine, , uk patrol, fishery protection and oceanographic survey. 30 vessels needed.
    Just need critical mass and hull numbers back in service. Relying on the USA to protect the whole of NATO is not viable. The simple fact is that a governments primary requirement is protection of the sovereign state and in that our current conservative government are failing utterly and stupendously.
    there is a real risk now of the uk loosing any war it gets dragged into, due to capability gaps and a lack of mass in terms of personnel, ships, submarines, tanks, aircraft numbers.

    • Mr Bell I agree with your sentiment, not your equipment list.

      The RN has to accept that it cannot have both T45 and T26 as high end escorts and I think the decision to have 14 high end escorts is about right and fully expect 13/14 T26 to be built eventually and replace the T45’s.

      T31 is where the big decision is as for me 25 of these kitted out with Compact Captas, Atlas Arcims, 1 or 2 CB90s, a SEARAM or 2, A Wildcat and 16 strike length VLS is a game changer. Especially at a target price of £600m each. My view is have a RN version of the Arleigh Burke (T26) and a mini version of this (T31) and get rid of the specialist ships.

      The safe boat Mk6 is an excellent platform that could provide a lot of other services (inc mhvc) but would require a mother ship (perhaps a JSS) and I am quite happy that at £10m each these provide quality, capability and value if we can have 50 or so of them.

      Unfortunately the MOD and RN is spending massive amounts of money on maintaining equipment that is well past its sell by date instead of investing in new systems and this has to stop. The equation is just wrong I am afraid but we are at such a low point now that scrapping a load of ships and starting a long term build programme probably wont do us any harm at all.

    • unfortunately we will lose any war with a near peer as to win a naval battle you need offensive systems – something all our ships are lacking.

      No harpoon
      No torpedoes
      No strike capabilities

      It’s not a capability gap but sitting ducks we are sending out. Even the carriers have no real defensive capability and at a minimum should have 4 SeaRAM systems fitted.

  14. It is truly a wasted opportunity that the QE class carriers were not outfitted with catapults and arresting gear that the American carriers have, and like the old Ark a Royal did. It would have made for an entire realm of inter oprability with US and French navy aircraft possible. As is, we are stuck with a a hideously pricey version of the Hermes or Invincible.
    Also, why are we going to be using these ships as amphibious assault ships?
    Were you to suggest to the US Admirals that they use one of thier Nimitz class carriers for such a mission they would think you daft.

  15. We should use the £80 million to build or buy a replacement vessel for HMS Ocean or at least new anti-ship missiles maybe even a French mistral class helicopter Carrier

  16. The USA will lend/lease the recently retired full deck carrier USS JFK for free, and the U.K. Can then use the savings to purchase F18 super Hornets which will be cheaper to fly and maintain than F35. The second QE carrier can be sold to India for a big fat profit!

  17. […] Guvernul brazilian a inaintat deja o oferta de cumparare ferma catre Londra, punand pe masa un pic peste 80 de milioane de lire sterline. Stirea a fost confirmata si de comandantul marinei braziliene, amiralul Eduardo Leal Ferreira care a catalogat pretul oferit ca fiind unul conevenabil. […]

  18. As ever spending a fortune and wasting vast chunks of it. We need to increase fleet with hulls fit for purpose and numbers fully kitted to deliver whars needed.

    Wasting fortune on boats past sell by date and poor choices such as crap engines on D boats.

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