HMS Ocean has returned home to Plymouth day as the UK’s landing platform helicopter, after a month away conducting intensive sea-acceptance trials and training for her crew.
From her brand new, world beating radar to retuned engines, she now delivers a step change in performance following a £65M refit.
The ship will now be prepared for the next period at sea. Captain Tim Henry, the commanding officer, summed up the month’s activity. He said: ‘HMS Ocean’s sea trials have been a conspicuous success, with the equipment performing above expectations and all the crew gaining invaluable experience. We are well placed to continue with our programme later in the year that will grow our capacity to deliver security at sea and defend the Nation’s interests.’’
Having ‘run-in’ her engines, tested her propulsion plant, auxiliary machinery and steering to the limit, she successfully completed aviation sea trials, enabling her to carry on and conduct more complex operations with aircraft to prove key systems such as the computers at the heart of the combat system.
In particular, her weapon engineers got hands-on experience with her new medium range surveillance radar ( Artisan or Type 997 radars). This modern radar allows her not only to identify threats over the horizon, but will also allow her to control the helicopters that she will carry into combat.
She has also embarked the ammunition for her close protection weapons, notably the Phalanx system and operated her new Bushmaster 30mm Cannons, that give her the teeth to protect herself when she deploys anywhere around the world to support contingency operations.
As well as improving on the performance of her equipment, the trials period enabled the crew to be trained to get the best out of the improved kit, and exercise the skills they require to keep the ship safe. For many of the ship’s company it was their first experience of life at sea and allowed them the opportunity to put into practice what they learnt during initial training ashore.
Midshipman Paul Corby is undergoing Initial Fleet Training. He said: “It is much easier to learn ‘hands on’ and it has been a real bonus to be a part of HMS Ocean’s sea trials; one learns so much more in a short period of time.”
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. Aviation capabilities include operating six helicopters at any one time with space in the hangar to hold, transport and maintain many more aircraft. HMS Ocean’s crew of 380 personnel includes 9 Assault Squadron Royal Marines who operate the four Mk5 landing craft vehicle and personnel and provide the projection of fighting capability ashore for HMS Ocean. The 21,500 tonne amphibious assault ship was launched in 1995, has a top speed in excess of 16 knots and a range of 8,000 miles.