￼HMS Ocean, a helicopter carrier and amphibious assault ship, will arrive in Her Majesty's Naval Base Gibraltar on Saturday 21st October for a short visit ahead of assuming NATO tasking in the Mediterranean.
This brief visit will afford Ocean the opportunity to embark stores whilst giving the Ship’s Company a chance to enjoy all that Gibraltar has to offer.
During the visit 20 members of the Ship’s Company will participate in an Act of Remembrance and a Reception to mark the 212th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar and to honour the memory of those who fell in the engagement. As is traditional for visiting Royal Navy units, a number of the Ship’s Company will participate in the ‘Rock Run’, which will see hundreds of Sailors and Marines racing up the iconic landmark in what is always a hotly contested event.
HMS Ocean will arrive in Gibraltar directly from the Caribbean where she has been engaged in Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) operations. Whilst alongside OCEAN will take the opportunity to re-embark vehicles and other stores that were disembarked last month en route to the Caribbean in order to make room for additional HADR supplies. Among the supplies embarked in September were 10 vehicles and a significant amount of building materials generously gifted by the Government of Gibraltar to those British Overseas Territories and other Islands affected by Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
Upon leaving Gibraltar, Ocean will sail into the Mediterranean to assume the role of Flagship for Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 (SNMG2).
This deployment represents the most recent in a string of Royal Navy commitments to this significant NATO task; not only will HMS Ocean take over the Flagship role from another Royal Navy ship (the Type 45 Destroyer HMS Diamond), the Commander of SNMG2 is himself a Royal Navy officer (Commodore James Morley Royal Navy).
SNMG2 will command a number of multi-national exercises aimed at fostering better interoperability between the naval and amphibious forces of numerous NATO nations. The fact that HMS Ocean is herself a large and highly capable amphibious ship will allow her to make a significant contribution to this important NATO mission; she will host Royal Marines from 40 Commando and US Marines and naval aviation from 820, 845 and 847 Naval Air Squadrons based in Culdrose and Yeovilton. SNMG2 also fulfils a vital contingency role in the Mediterranean region; through the maintenance of postured maritime forces the Group is able to protect UK and NATO collective interests, promote security and project military power if necessary. Ultimately, SNMG2 offers up potential military options for NATO and the UK to deal with a security emergency should one occur.
The Commanding Officer of HMS Ocean, Captain Robert Pedre, said: “My Ship’s Company and I are very much looking forward to our visit to Gibraltar, a territory that has been synonymous with the Royal Navy and its operations in the Mediterranean for hundreds of years. Looking ahead to our NATO tasking, I am sure that HMS OCEAN will make a significant contribution to NATO’s efforts to maintain security in the Mediterranean region.”
HMS OCEAN’s appointment as the Flagship for NATO’s SNMG2 Task Group is indicative of the UK’s strong and ongoing commitment to NATO as a key pillar of UK Defence and the collective defence of our allies.