HMS Ocean Prepares for Libya Again


HMS Ocean is resuming patrols off Libya after a short break in Crete to undergo essential maintenance following nearly three months of constant action.

As she returned to sea, Britain’s biggest warship was visited by the Second Sea Lord, who thanked all aboard for the continuing sacrifices.

Heading into the Mediterranean sunset, an Army Air Corps Apache gunship carries out a dusk training mission as her launchpad, HMS Ocean, prepares to take her place in the line of battle once again.

For a short while Britain’s biggest warship bowed out Operation Unified Protector for some much-needed TLC in Crete.

Specialist engineers (RN and civilians from Babcock) from her home base of Devonport were flown out to Souda Bay to carry out essential repairs and maintenance.

Now they’re done, Ocean’s back at sea and ready to return to the coast of Libya to continue in whatever role is necessary to see the job finished.

The Mighty O departed Devonport in April in support of the Cougar task force deployment to the Mediterranean and Middle East, the first work-out for the UK’s new Response Force Task Group, formed under last year’s Defence Review.

The helicopter assault ship never left the Middle Sea – her Apaches, deployed for the first time at sea, were deemed an invaluable asset in the campaign against Colonel Gaddafi’s forces in Libya.

She’s been attached to the NATO operation now for three months, prompting a visit from Second Sea Lord, Vice Admiral Charles Montgomery, to thank the hundreds of men and women aboard for their unstinting efforts.

He spent two days aboard the helicopter carrier, enjoying top-level briefings – from Cdre John Kingwell, Commander of the United Kingdom Task Group, and Ocean’s CO Capt Andrew Betton inter alia – as well as chatting to the rest of the ship’s company, Royal Marines and Army Air Corps personnel.

And, in a popular move, he made himself available throughout his time on board to answer questions on personnel and training issues – which are his remit – as well as wider defence matters.

“I am immensely proud of all of the sailors, soldiers, airmen and marines serving in HMS Ocean.”

said Capt Betton

“Everybody has worked tirelessly since we sailed in April to contribute to our evolving mission, so having the opportunity to demonstrate our professionalism and brief the Second Sea Lord on this unique ship’s capability was an honour.”

In addition to HMS Ocean, still on station of Libya are destroyer HMS Liverpool, the minehunter HMS Bangor and support ship RFA Fort Rosalie.

Source: royalnavy, September 21, 2011;