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HMS Ocean deploys as NATO group flagship

29 August 2017
HMS Ocean left Devonport today to spend the rest of the year as flagship to a major NATO maritime group in the Mediterranean.

The significant and long-standing NATO commitment contributes to the ongoing maritime security of the Mediterranean region, a task the Royal Navy has long been involved with. A key priority is ensuring the security of the shipping trade routes used for imports such as oil and exports.

HMS Ocean’s appointment as the flagship for NATO’s Standing Maritime Group 2 (SNMG2) deployment shows the UK’s strong and ongoing commitment to NATO as a key part of UK and her allies’ defence. SNMG2 also provides potential military options for NATO and the UK to deal with any security emergencies.

The Commanding Officer of HMS Ocean, Captain Robert Pedre, said: “My ship’s company and I very much look forward to assuming the role of a NATO Flagship.  HMS Ocean is an incredibly capable amphibious and command platform and represents a significant UK contribution to NATO’s efforts to maintain security in the Mediterranean region.”

“As capable as the ship is and as excellent as my ship’s company are, the key to achieving operational success is the support by families and friends back home.  This will be a particularly demanding period for them as well as the ship’s company. This is recognised and appreciated at all levels.’’

As capable as the ship is and as excellent as my ship’s company are, the key to achieving operational success is the support by families and friends back home

Captain Robert Pedre

HMS Ocean’s departure was witnessed by families waving as she passed through Plymouth Sound.

Weapons Engineer Nathan Brown, of Warrington, has served in the Royal Navy for two years and is on his second deployment with HMS Ocean. He said: “I’m looking forward to this deployment. It will be a great experience to be part of different navies working together.’’

Petty Officer Jamie Stickley, from Portsmouth, is the physical training instructor on board. Jamie, who leaves behind his wife Josie and three-year-old son Parker to serve on the deployment, said: “I’m a little apprehensive because I haven’t been to sea since 2008, but I’m also excited because HMS Ocean is a great ship to serve in and this is an important large deployment.

“I’m also sad because I had to say goodbye to my family. But it will help that my mind will be occupied as I will be busy looking after the physical development of anyone who wants to take part. I have three gyms on board and we can use the flight deck if flying operations allow.’’

HMS Ocean’s deployment to SNMG2 represents the most recent in a string of Royal Navy commitments to this significant NATO task. The ship takes over the flagship role from HMS Duncan and the commander of SNMG2 is Royal Navy Commodore James Morley. 

SNMG2 will host multi-national exercises, bringing together the naval forces of several nations. The Spanish and French Marines will operate with their own navies alongside the US Marine Corps and ships and aircraft from other nations, including Turkey and Greece. 

HMS Ocean, a helicopter and Royal Marines carrier, will carry commandos from Taunton-based 40 Commando, US and French Marines and helicopters from 820, 845 and 847 Royal Naval Air Squadrons based in Culdrose and Yeovilton, in Cornwall and Somerset. The flagship will also embark Chinook helicopters from 18 and 27 Squadrons RAF based at Odiham for some of the deployment. 

The ship is designed to deliver troops to the centre of the action by helicopter or by landing craft.  The ship has six helicopter operating spots on her flight deck with space in the hangar to hold many more. HMS Ocean’s crew of 400 personnel includes Royal Marines who operate four landing craft to take forces ashore. The 21,500 tonne amphibious assault ship was launched in 1995, has a top speed of 16 knots and a range in excess 8,000 miles on a single tank of fuel.

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