HMS Ocean sailed from Plymouth today (Saturday) for the first time since October 2012, after undergoing a major refit in her base-port at Devonport, Plymouth.
The £65 million refit has improved her ability to carry out her main role as an amphibious helicopter carrier (landing platform helicopter) acting as part of a task group or launching raids by the Royal Marines by helicopter and landing craft.
The same equipment also improves her ability to deliver humanitarian aid or, if required, support the evacuation of British citizens from crises around the world.
The ship will now undergo a demanding and rigorous trials and training programme that will test the ship and crew in all their roles.
For a fifth of the 380 sailors and Royal Marines onboard this will be their first experience of life at sea. Chef Evan Boucher (20), joined HMS OCEAN straight from training at the Royal Navy’s catering school at HMS Raleigh just 6 months ago. He said:
‘It’s been hard work getting the galley and ship ready and I know we’ve lots more hard training to do, but I’m really looking forward to finally getting to sea in order to put into practice what I’ve learnt.’
Captain Tim Henry, the Commanding Officer of HMS OCEAN, said: “Today is the culmination of a considerable amount of hard work by my Ship’s Company and those supporting us in getting to sea. The unique nature of OCEAN makes it more challenging to prepare for this day given that we have no other ship on which to train. As the Naval Service, Defence and the Nation’s eyes turn to Rosyth for the naming of HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH, we are one significant step closer to HMS OCEAN assuming the role of the Nation’s very high readiness Helicopter Carrier.”
HMS OCEAN is the Royal Navy’s Landing Platform Helicopter (LPH). A helicopter carrier and amphibious assault ship, Ocean is designed to deliver troops to the centre of the action by helicopter or by landing craft. Aviation capabilities include six helicopter operating spots on her flight deck with space in the hangar to hold, transport and maintain many more aircraft. Ocean’s compliment Ship’s Company of 380 personnel includes 9 Assault Squadron Royal Marines (9 ASRM), who operate the four Mk5 landing craft vehicle and personnel (LCVP), 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 of 16 knots and a range of 8,000 miles