HMS Ocean sails for first time in two years
From Navy News
Helicopter carrier HMS Ocean has sailed for the first time in more than 20 months to begin sea trials.
The assault ship will be put through her paces in the Channel following a £65m revamp in her native Devonport.
BRITAIN’S biggest operational warship – the largest title is now owned by HMS Queen Elizabeth – has put to sea for the first time in more than 20 months.
Helicopter carrier HMS Ocean was ushered out of her native Devonport over the weekend 5/6 July to start sea trials following a massive £65m revamp. Not since October 2012 had the assault ship sailed under her own power.
In the intervening period sailors, shipwrights, technicians and engineers have carried out the biggest refit in Devonport in more than 20 years – described as the equivalent of overhauling three Type23 frigates simultaneously.
They refurbished, replaced and added kit from bow to stern and top mast to keel: flight deck, hangar, mess decks, galley and sick bay, installed more than a kilometre of new piping and applied 100,000 litres of paint to the hull.
So looking spick and span, and helped by tugs, the 21,500-ton carrier was helped down the Hamoaze and into the wider waters of Plymouth Sound by tugs to begin the long road back to front-line duties.
For one fifth of the 380 sailors and Royal Marines onboard, the sea trials are their first experience of life at sea.
Among them, 20-year-old Chef Evan Boucher, who joined Ocean straight from training at the Royal Navy’s catering school across the water at HMS Raleigh.
“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.”
If there’s pressure on Evan and his fellow chefs to keep morale up by providing three quality meals a day, there’s even more on Capt Tim Henry, Ocean’s CO, to bring the carrier back to life as a fighting warship.
He’s in no doubt his men and women will deliver in spades.
“Sailing 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 made it more challenging to prepare for this day, given that we have no other ship on which to train.
“But as the Naval Service, Defence and the nation’s eyes were on 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.”
Once fully-operational, Ocean will take over from HMS Illustrious, which pays off later this year after 32 years’ service.