HMS ocean returns from successful sea trials
HMS Ocean has returned to Plymouth today as the Nation’s Landing Platform Helicopter (LPH) following a month at sea holding intensive sea acceptance trials and training.
From her brand new state-of-the-art radar to re-tuned engines, she now delivers a step change in performance following a £65M refit.
Having ‘run in’ her engines, tested her propulsion plant, auxiliary machinery and steering to the limit, HMS Ocean also successfully completed Aviation sea trials, enabling her to carry out more complex operations with aircraft to prove key systems.
In particular, her Weapon Engineers got hands-on experience with her new Medium Range Surveillance Radar known as Artisan or Type 997 radar.
This allows her not only to identify threats over the horizon, but will also allow her to control the helicopters that she will carry into combat.
This is important work with this type of radar being fitted to HMS Queen Elizabeth, the nation’s future Flagship, when she enters service in a few years time.
Leading Engineering Technician Mat Starkey (25) said: “Having worked mostly on ordnance for the first six years of my career, it has been really good to go on the maintainers’ training course for this brand new sensor system at the manufacturer’s factory on the Isle of Wight.
“It’s convinced me that this is the specialisation that I want to be streamed into within the Weapon Engineering department.”
Commander David Goldsmith, is the senior Weapon Engineer onboard HMS Ocean, said: “Operating in close proximity to land is a challenging environment for a ship of any size, but it is key to HMS Ocean’s role in delivering Royal Marines ashore.
“The Type 997 Radar is far more resilient and versatile than its predecessors and will enable us to build a far better picture of what is operating around us, both on and over the sea as well as the airspace over land.”
She has also embarked the ammunition for her close protection weapons, notably the Phalanx system and operated her new Bushmaster 30mm Cannons that give her the teeth to protect herself when she deploys anywhere around the world to support contingency operations.
As well as improving on the performance of her equipment, the trials period enabled training for the crew to get the best out of the improved kit, and exercise the skills they require to keep the ship safe.
For many of the ship’s company it was their first experience of life at sea and allowed them the opportunity to put into practice what they learnt during initial training ashore.
Midshipman Paul Corby is undergoing Initial Fleet Training as a young officer, said: “It is much easier to learn ‘hands on’ and it has been a real bonus to be a part of HMS Ocean’s sea trials; you can learn so much more in a short period of time.”
The ship will now be prepared for the next period at sea.
Captain Tim Henry, the Commanding Officer, said: “HMS Ocean’s sea trials have been a success, with the equipment performing above expectations and all the crew gaining invaluable experience.
“We are well placed to continue with our programme later in the year that will grow our capacity to deliver security at sea and protect the Nation’s interests.”