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US Marines' half-helicopter/half-plane returns to HMS Ocean

29 November 2016
Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Is it a helicopter?

No, as regular visitor to our website will know, it’s a tiltrotor, takes off and lands like a helicopter, flies like a plane.

The US Marine Corps’ favoured method of transport dropped in on the deck of HMS Ocean, the second time in a year the hybrid aircraft have made use of Britain’s flagship.

The Mighty O has just taken over as command ship of Combined Task Force 50, the most important US naval strike force in the Middle East. 

It’s great to be operating US Marine Corps Ospreys on HMS Ocean’s deck so early in our tenure as the command ship for CTF50.

Cdr Adie Baker RN

That means increased co-operation with American forces in the region over the next three months, which will demand seamless interaction.

Hence why the White Knights of USMC Medium Tilt Rotor Squadron 165 flew aboard Ocean in the Gulf – to give the US aircrew experience of landing on a deck much smaller than the recently-departed carrier USS Dwight D Eisenhower, and to give RN aircraft handlers the chance to refresh skills they learned 12 months ago or, for recent arrivals, to learn new ones.

Among the posts to change hands over the past year is that of Commander Air (aka ‘Wings’) now held by Cdr Adie Baker.

“It’s great to be operating US Marine Corps Ospreys on HMS Ocean’s deck so early in our tenure as the command ship for CTF50.

“The Osprey brings a great lift in what we are able to do in terms of range and speed and this period of deck landing training demonstrates the how flexible and versatile HMS Ocean is and improves the ability of the Royal and US Navies to work together.”

It can carry 24 troops with all their kit – a similar capacity to the Merlins of the Commando Helicopter Force – but higher (25,000ft), faster (over 300mph) and further (over 1,000 miles).

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