On Friday, The Queen visited HSM Ocean in Devonport, Plymouth, to celebrate the re-dedication of the ship following its refurbishment.
Upon her arrival at the dockyard, The Queen was greeted with a 21-gun salute, a royal salute and the national anthem, played by the Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines in Plymouth. Vice Admiral Philip Jones, the fleet commander, presented Devonport’s commander Captain Ian Shipperley, fleet chaplain Ian Wheatley, and the commander of HMS Ocean, Captain Timothy Henry, to her Majesty.
As Captain Henry stood on the daïs and read the re-dedication order, The Queen inspected the front rank of the guard of honour. Her Majesty then boarded the ship to view its capabilities, and given a demonstration of how a remote depth sounder worked by Lance Corporal Chris Scholes.
Having taken in the sights, The Queen moved on to a reception with about 600 guests and met some of the ship’s crew and their families. She then moved on to a lunch in the wardroom, to meet the chefs and stewards. Her Majesty signed the visitors’ book, before departing the vessel – by helicopter!
HMS Ocean is a helicopter carrier and assault ship, designed to deliver Royal Marines to the centre of the action. It was launched in 1995 and commissioned into the Royal Navy just three years later. The ship has six helicopter operating spots on her flight deck, with space in the hangar to hold many more and carried 380 personnel, including 9 Assault Squadron Royal Marines.
HMS Ocean has been vital to delivering humanitarian aid and disaster relief. The ship was providing security on the Thames during the 2012 Olympics in London, and most recently was a part of Operational Ellamy, the UK’s contribution to the NATO mission to protect Libyan citizens.
The vessel recently underwent a £65 million refit at Devonport and will assume the duties of Fleet Flagship in June this year. The re-dedication ceremony marks the ship’s return to service and gives Her Majesty a chance to meet the new crew.
It is the tradition for every Royal Navy warship to have a Lady Sponsor, and The Queen is the sponsor of HMS Ocean. Friday saw the fourth visit to the ship since its naming ceremony in 1998, and during the visit, she was gifted a new brooch by the ship’s commander and officers.