All go on the Mighty O as HMS Ocean nears the end of her refit

Britain’s biggest warship is coming back to life as HMS Ocean nears the end of a 15-month £65m revamp. Sailors are rejoining the helicopter assault ship – not least her new Commanding Officer Capt Tim Henry – as the Mighty O prepares to return to sea this spring.

Life is being breathed into Britain’s biggest warship as helicopter carrier HMS Ocean gets ready to emerge from a 15-month revamp.

The Mighty O has been out of action since late 2012, undergoing a £65m overhaul in her home base of Devonport.

As 2014 begins, so sailors have begun to re-join Ocean in earnest, not least her new Commanding Officer Capt Tim Henry, who’ll guide ship and ship’s company through the final weeks of the refit – and a demanding remainder of the year.

By the end of 2014, Ocean will be the UK’s sole on-call helicopter carrier; veteran HMS Illustrious, which has performed the duty while the Mighty O has been going through her revamp, is due to pay off after more than 30 years’ proud service in the late autumn.

With that deadline to meet, Capt Henry – who’s previously commanded frigate HMS Portland – knows the coming months will be challenging, and his men and women will rise to that challenge.

“I join HMS Ocean at a most exciting time. She has undergone a significant refit period, and our priority is now to ensure that all of her new and improved systems are brought on line, as we work up towards our high readiness status.

“Ocean’s ship’s company – along with the many workers and contractors in the Naval Base – should be proud of what they have achieved so far during this refit, and I have no doubt that they will continue to drive hard to complete the work to the highest standard.”

His ship has received more than 60 upgrades and improvements from a complete refurbishment of her flight deck, hangar and aviation facilities to an overhaul of much of her mechanical and engineering equipment, and replacement or refurbishment of many of her communications and weapons systems.

In dry dock, Ocean’s hull received a fresh coat of anti-fouling paint, and her engines, propellers, shafts, rudders and stabilisers were all been given a thorough going over before the waters lapped around the ship once more and she was moved out of dock.

The scale of the work carried out on her has been described by defence firm Babcock as the equivalent of overhauling three Type 23 frigates.

The refit and trials are due to be complete by the summer, when the task will move to the intensive training of her ship’s company to regain their operational status and capability, which reaches its climax with two months of Operational Sea Training under the supervision of the Flag Officer Sea Training’s organisation.