HMS Ocean, the Royal Navy’s Fleet Flagship, has sailed from Portsmouth Naval Base for the last time before she decommissions from the Royal Navy.
The helicopter carrier and assault ship arrived last Friday to pay a brief farewell visit to the city before returning to her homeport of Devonport, Plymouth for the final time under a white ensign later this month.
Commanding Officer of HMS Ocean, Captain Robert Pedre, said: “It is fitting that the Fleet Flagship should have this opportunity to bid farewell to the city before decommissioning; a visit that is all the more poignant for the many members of my ship’s company that are privileged to call this historic naval city home.”
HMS Ocean has delivered 20 years of service to the nation.
Since commissioning into Royal Navy in 1998 she has been involved in Operation Palliser during the Sierra Leone civil war in 2000, Operation Telic off the coast of Iraq in 2003, Operation Ellamy as part of an international coalition in Libya in 2011, and most recently the hurricane relief contingent on Operation Ruman in the Caribbean.
She has helped to evacuate British nationals and other entitled personnel from numerous areas of conflict around the world and delivered humanitarian assistance and disaster relief to thousands in need to name but a few of her operational highlights.
One of HMS Ocean’s final operations mirrored that of her first; the role of Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief.
In early 1999 HMS Ocean was deployed at short notice to render assistance to Honduras and Nicaragua in the aftermath of Hurricane Mitch.
Some 18 years later she did the same across four separate island chains in the Caribbean as part of Operation Ruman.
“HMNB Portsmouth was extremely proud to welcome the Royal Navy’s Fleet Flagship today – as a stalwart of operations in the Service for two decades,” said Captain Bill Oliphant, Captain of Portsmouth Naval Base.
“It was extremely poignant to see her berthed by our new aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth and making way for a new class of capability.
“I’m sure she will have a fantastic – and well deserved - reception in Plymouth next week when she sails into our sister naval base for the final time.”
HMS Ocean’s role as a highly capable amphibious ship has allowed her to make a significant contribution to UK operations over the years; she often hosted Royal Marines Commandos, helicopters from the Fleet Air Arm, the Army Air Corps and the Royal Air Force, as well as marines, soldiers and myriad of aircraft types from other nations.
Tallied up, the ship has spent 11 of the last 16 months deployed on operations overseas during which time she has covered almost 50000 miles.