HMS Ocean lands helicopters

HMS Ocean, the Royal Navy’s Fleet Flagship, has landed her helicopter force and exercised Royal Marines at the beginning of her Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF) deployment which sailed from Plymouth last week.

The air group, with Apache from 662 Army Air Corps, Chinook from 27 Squadron from RAF Odiham and Merlin from 845 Royal Naval Air Squadron at Yeovilton, has also been training this week with crews on all aircraft types managing to fly sorties from the amphibious helicopter carrier.

Lieutenant Commander Simon Wood said: “After a slow start to the week as a result of unfavourable weather conditions, the air group have achieved a great deal over the last couple of days including the Apache live firings.

"They are now well set for the first amphibious exercise of the deployment as well as proving their readiness for any air operations that we may be called upon to deliver as part of the Joint Expeditionary Force deployment.’’

Plymouth-based 42 Commando Royal Marines and the helicopters have been put through their paces in preparation for the first amphibious exercise of the deployment in October. 

After a slow start to the week as a result of unfavourable weather conditions, the air group have achieved a great deal over the last couple of days including the Apache live firings.

Lieutenant Commander Simon Wood

The commanding officer of 42 Commando Royal Marines, Lieutenant Colonel Mark Totten, said: “42 Commando and HMS Ocean, are now a central part of the JEF deployment. 

"The Commando force onboard sits at the centre of an effort that spans from Oman, through Albania, to Gibraltar. 

“Our current focus is to confirm we are ready in all respects for any amphibious task group operations that may be required of us and to work alongside key partner nations. The deployment is the culmination of a year-long training cycle and all members of 42 Commando are enjoying the opportunity to be at sea once again.’’

HMS Ocean’s crew has also been training on damage-control and chemical biological radiological  nuclear exercises, with a team from Plymouth-based Flag Officer Sea Training embarked, as part of their routine preparations for the deployment.

This inaugural JEF deployment, under the command of Commodore  Andrew Burns, demonstrates the ability to project a highly effective UK maritime force anywhere in the world and reassure allies of the UK’s commitment to the stability of the Middle East.

The task group consists of Plymouth-based HMS Bulwark (with Commander Amphibious Task Group and Commander 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines embarked) , the support ship Royal Fleet Auxiliary Mounts Bay and the MOD’s ship Eddystone Point to exercise with partner nations in the Mediterranean and the Middle East.   

When HMS Bulwark returns to the UK at the end of the year HMS Ocean will take over the command role and embark Commodore Burns when he takes charge of Combined Task Force 50, working directly for Commander of the United States 5th Fleet.