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HMS Ocean returns home from Cougar deployment

Published: 15 Dec 2015

HMS Ocean has finally arrived home to Plymouth at the end of the Royal Navy’s annual major amphibious deployment.

The Royal Marines and helicopter carrier tied up in HM Naval Base, Devonport, to a dark, wet and low key welcome yesterday (Thursday) after a delayed entry due to high winds.

The ship’s commanding officer Captain Steve Moorhouse paid tribute to his ship’s company, “My ship’s company worked very hard towards a hugely successful deployment. They deserve a good Christmas break. We will have two to three weeks rest sand then be back for a busy 2016 as NATO’s and the UK’s flagship at high readiness for any contingent tasking."

Greeting her brother Able Seaman (Seaman specialist) Liam on the jetty in the rain were Alannah Eckersley from Chepstow with her mother Liz Lawrence, both from Chepstow.  

Alannah said: “We weren’t put off by the rain and dark.  We’ve come a long way to see the ship come home and meet Liam again. It’s not been long since he left, but it is his first deployment, so it’s nice for him to have a welcome."

Liz said: “We’ve not heard much from him, but he did say that it was hard intense work. We’re all looking forward to a good Christmas now he’s back."

My ship’s company worked very hard towards a hugely successful deployment. They deserve a good Christmas break.

Captain Steve Moorhouse, Commanding Officer of HMS Ocean

HMS Ocean has spent three months in the Mediterranean working with the French Navy and its amphibious forces on the Cougar deployment, while simultaneously commanding a huge NATO task force during Exercise Trident Juncture, NATO’s biggest exercise for 20 years.  

This was followed by Exercise Blue Raptor, in which Ocean embarked US Marine Corps Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft and Marines, who worked alongside Royal Marines from Scotland –based 45 Commando.

All these exercises exercised the ship’s flexibility to deliver, either in military operations or humanitarian missions.  

The ship took on two new roles, embarking an admiral’s headquarters for which validated HMS Ocean as the Flagship for NATO’s naval forces next year.  

Another first was the embarkation of the US Marine Corps and its aircraft.  

The ship has been testing and developing the equipment and routines that the huge new aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth will use when she succeeds ‘The Might O’ as the Royal Navy’s Flagship.

Lance Corporal David Cook Royal Marines serves in 45 Commando and worked with the US Marine Corps (USMC).  

He said: “The US Marine Corps clearly shared a determination to get the job done, so I look forward to working with them again at some point in the future.  The Osprey capability was a game changer as it gave us a far greater range of movement as well as rapid insertion and extraction times, helping us to maintain momentum at both ends.”

Corporal Tony Seaton also worked with the USMC.  He said: “We relished the opportunity to work with the USMC on the ground and learnt a lot by witnessing first hand the different approach that they take.”

Cougar is the Royal Navy’s long standing annual deployment of the UK’s high readiness Joint Expeditionary Force (Maritime).  

As an amphibious assault ship HMS Ocean is designed to deliver troops such as Royal Marines, to the centre of the action by helicopter or by landing craft.  

The ship operates six helicopters on her flight deck and has space in the hangar to hold, transport and maintain many more aircraft. She can operate Lynx, Merlin, Apache, Chinook and Osprey helicopters from her deck.  

HMS Ocean’s crew numbers 380 personnel including 9 Assault Squadron Royal Marines, who operate the vehicle and personnel carrying landing craft to carry fighting forces ashore.   

The 21,500 ton ship has a range of 8,000 miles.


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