The Royal Navy’s flagship has reportedly been sold to Brazil for £84million – just four years after it was completely overhauled at a cost to the British taxpayer of £65million.
Defence chiefs are said to have agreed to the bargain sale – which will leave Britain with not a single aircraft carrier in service – as part of wider cost-cutting measures.
The sale in instalments totalling £84.3million was reported by the UK Defence Journal, which quoted Brazilian navy commander Admiral Eduardo Leal Ferreira as saying the price seemed “convenient”.
She returned to Devonport just before Christmas after leaving the UK in August. She served as flagship of NATO’s Standing Maritime Group 2 in the Mediterranean before being re-tasked to take vital humanitarian aid to British Overseas Territories hit by Hurricane Irma.
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 Landing Platform Helicopter (LPH) was constructed in the mid-1990s and commissioned in September 1998. After a 15-month refit costing £65million, the MoD confirmed that HMS Ocean was to be decommissioned in 2018 with no like-for-like replacement.
Luke Pollard, MP for Ocean’s home in Devonport, said on Twitter: “Littoral Water helicopter capabilities will not be replaced by the carriers. Tory defence cuts continue and #Plymouth loses out again.”
— Luke Pollard MP (@LukePollard) January 3, 2018
He added: “We still need her. That’s why selling her off is such a bad decision.”
Shadow defence secretary Nia Griffith said: “Hugely disappointing if this turns out to be true, HMS Ocean undergoes a refit, then sold for just £84 million.
A spokesperson for the MoD said:
“Discussions with Brazil over the long-planned sale of HMS Ocean are at an advanced stage, but no final decisions have been made. HMS Ocean has served admirably with us since 1998 and the revenue she generates will be reinvested in defence as we bolster our Royal Navy with two types of brand new frigates and two huge aircraft carriers.”