HMS Ocean stops off on voyage home
HMS Ocean, an amphibious assault ship, the UK's helicopter carrier and largest warship of the Royal Navy, is in Gibraltar following a six-month deployment.
She spent the last three months of the deployment east of Suez as the Command platform for Combined Task Force 50, the principal warfighting commander in the Gulf.
She was designed to support amphibious landing operations and can accommodate 18 helicopters at one time. These helicopters include the Merlin Mk3, the Apache, the Chinook Mk 2 and the MV22 Osprey.
At present she has two Merlin Mk3s in her hanger.
She was commissioned in September 1998 at her homeport HMNB Devonport, Plymouth and had only expected to be in operation for ten years.
She will be decommissioned next year and the Queen Elizabeth carrier will replace her, the new warship will be three times the length of HMS Ocean and twice its width.
With the ability to accommodate 720 personnel, her roles include command platform, landing platform for helicopters, surface manoeuvres, humanitarian and disaster relief, non-combatant evacuation operations, support to special forces and an anti-submarine warfare helicopter carrier.
She can be anywhere in the world within five days and has “multi-spot capability”, meaning the four helicopters can take off at the exact same time; she can conduct a simultaneous aviation and surface assault- even at night. She is home to 9 Assault Squadron Royal Marines, who aside from their primary roles as amphibious assault squadron and Royal Marine Commandos they also undertake firefighting, watching keeping and security on board.
Running through her are numerous fibre optics cables, giving her the privilege to be known as the biggest fibre optic network the Royal Navy has at sea. Regarding technology, she has an internet speed of 8MB, most other vessels have 2MB, and she has Wi-Fi on-board which enables personnel to keep in touch with family and loved ones back home.
Aside from carrying helicopters, landing craft vehicles and the personnel to accompany these, she also has her own operating theatre within sick bay, a dental facility, a meteorological team, watch personnel, communication specialists and weapon engineering technicians to name a few.
She is presently captained by Captain Robert Pedre, who assumed command in August 2016. Her senior weapons engineer is Lt Tim Lawrenson and her Logistics Commander and Media and Influence Officer is Cdr Jude Terry OBE.
Ms Terry was awarded an OBE in the New Year's Honours List of 2017. Her OBE acknowledged her role at Permanent Joint Headquarters (PJHQ), Northwood, when UK forces were redeployed from Afghanistan, and while she was employed as the Military Assistant to the Chief of Joint Operations.
HMS Ocean was deployed for the 2012 London Olympics, to assist with the deployment of Special Forces and conduct other security role missions.
Following the air travel disruption after the volcano eruption in 2010, she was deployed to rescue stranded travellers and army personnel across the English Channel.
In 2002, a unit of Royal Marines from HMS Ocean accidentally landed on a beach in La Línea instead of Gibraltar.
HMS Ocean is due home in Devonport before the end of the month.