After 20 years of service the MOD has finalised the sale of HMS Ocean to Brazil for £84million.
While that sounds like a lot of money she recently under went a 15-month refit costing £65million. Built in Glasgow her hull and construction have more similarities with that of a merchant vessel than a warship.
This means that while she had a relatively cheap building cost (of about £154 million) her running costs have been extremely high, mainly because spare-parts are hard to come by. Therefore while sad, the Royal Navy are glad to see her coming to the end of her service.
The funds that are generated from the sale are planned to be reinvested in defence at a time when the Royal Navy is being strengthened with two types of brand new frigates and two huge new aircraft carriers.
The Landing Platform Helicopter (LPH) was constructed in the mid-1990s and commissioned in September 1998. When she decommissions next month there will be no like-for-like replacement nor any aircraft carrier in the entire fleet of the Royal Navy until HMS Queen Elizabeth becomes operational.
Despite having interior defects such as decks that don’t align properly (see below) and significant engine problems the MoD have done well to sell the ship nicknamed “The Mighty O” for so much money. Like flogging an old car that you know doesn’t work very well to a friend, it might prove awkward in the future with Brazil. But it is nothing short of a triumph for Britain who are desperately trying to plug the deficit in the defence budget.
Throughout HMS Ocean’s impressive 20 years service, she has covered more than 450,000 nautical miles. The long-planned decision to take her out of service in 2018, as she reaches the end of her planned service life, was confirmed in the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) 2015.
Her military record spans from Operation Palliser during the Sierra Leone civil war to Operation Ellamy as part of an international coalition in Libya in 2011.
Most recently, HMS Ocean demonstrated her humanitarian and disaster relief capabilities when she bolstered the hurricane relief effort on Operation Ruman in the Caribbean last summer.
It is fitting that one of her final operations mirrored that of her first, when in early 1999 she was deployed at short notice to render assistance to Honduras and Nicaragua in the aftermath of Hurricane Mitch.
The sale of HMS Ocean was managed by the Defence Equipment Sales Authority (DESA), which is part of the MOD’s procurement organisation, Defence Equipment and Support. The Authority provides an efficient sale and disposal services to the armed forces as well as customers in the UK and overseas.
Clive Walker, Head of DESA, said:
“We have a proven track record of supplying surplus defence equipment on a government to government basis. The successful sale of HMS Ocean to the Brazilian Navy will provide a financial return to the UK which will now be reinvested in defence”.
HMS Ocean will decommission from the Royal Navy in March, with plans for the Brazilian Navy to take possession of the ship in June 2018. Modifications to the ship will be made by UK companies Babcock and BAE Systems in the meantime, with this work funded by Brazil.