Skip to content
Recruiting now.Explore navy careers

Helicopter assault from the Ocean

16 December 2016
Sixty years ago the Royal Navy pioneered helicopter assault operations from the sea, argued by many to be a Revolution in Military Affairs.

The advantages of conducting helicopter assault, first demonstrated by the Experimental Helicopter Squadron of the Fleet Air Arm are still relevant today.

HMS Ocean, her flight deck and crew continue to demonstrate this on operations as part of Task Force 50 in The Gulf.

As a Landing Platform Helicopter (LPH) HMS Ocean had been designed to launch troops quickly from over the visible horizon straight to the military objective; this will usually be in parallel with troops carried by her own landing craft or those from amphibious assault ships HMS Bulwark or HMS Albion.

The tactical use of assault aviation remains a cornerstone of the Royal Navy’s amphibious capability and HMS Ocean is capable of operating up to six helicopters simultaneously from the Royal Navy, Army Air Corps or Royal Air Force, to achieve this.

The most recent helicopter assault was during the Joint Expeditionary Force (Maritime) 2016 (JEF(M)16) deployment.

With a Tailored Air Group (TAG) made up of 845 Naval Air Squadron, 662 Squadron Army Air Corps and No. 27 Squadron Royal Air Force.

The TAG landed elements of 42 Cdo RM ashore in the Combined and Joint Exercise Albanian Lion 16 in October.

During a recent visit, Alexandria welcomed HMS Ocean as part of the JEF(M)16 deployment – the first Royal Navy Capital Ship to visit in over eight years.

With the Egyptian Navy joining other maritime nations in procuring Helicopter Carriers of their own, it was an opportunity for HMS Ocean to engage with an important regional partner and discuss ways to integrate complex helicopter operations into the maritime environment.

HMS Ocean’s visit to Alexandria is one example of how the UK’s amphibious capability offers the government choice in the way the UK engages with other countries.

The ability to poise and offer a continual conventional deterrent with a forward deployed contingent capability in the form of embarked aircraft is another.

Providing the command platform for Task Force 50 to conduct Maritime Security Operations in The Gulf is yet another.

The fact that HMS Ocean can conduct all of these simultaneously is a demonstration of her utility and flexibility.

In 2018 HMS Ocean is scheduled to sail into history with her withdrawal from service, paving the way for a new era of RN aviation at sea.

The Queen Elizabeth Class (QEC) aircraft carriers due to enter service from 2017 will, in addition to the core carrier strike role for which they are designed,  meet the need to deliver the helicopter assault capability in the littoral environment. 

Related articles

Navy News Magazine

We bring you the latest news, features and award-winning photographs from the front-line. Navy News has been reporting on all that happens in the Royal Navy and its wider community since 1954.