Brazil has now confirmed the purchase of British helicopter carrier HMS Ocean, according to a report in the UKdefensejournal. “We were informed by a source in the Brazilian defense community that the vessel has been sold for £84 million. Roberto Lopes has informed us that the purchase of HMS Ocean by the Brazilian Navy was confirmed within the last week by Brazilian Defense Minister Raul Jungmann”.
We understand the first group of four Brazilian officers will head to the UK within the next few weeks.
We also understand that there are doubts over the retention of the Phalanx CIWS by Brazil but are unsure regarding the reasons why. The vessel will remain in the UK until October or November this year”.
The news had been anticipated by UKdj last March and in April it was reported that the Brazilian Navy had reportedly sent a proposal to pay for helicopter carrier HMS Ocean in installments.
HMS Ocean is the UK’s only helicopter carrier and the fleet flagship of the Royal Navy. She is designed to support amphibious landing operations and to support the staff of Commander UK Amphibious Force and Commander UK Landing Force.
According to Brazilian journalist Roberto Lopes in an e-mail, the ship’s cost to the Brazilian Navy is fixed at £84.3 million pounds (312 million Brazilian Reais). Commander of the Brazilian Navy, Admiral Eduardo Leal Ferreira, claimed that the price of Ocean seemed “convenient”. Then this week, IHS Janes reported that Brazil’s MoD authorized efforts to purchase Ocean once she leaves UK service.
We understand from Roberto Lopes via e-mail, the source who let us know that Brazil has already submitted a payment plan for the vessel, that the officers involved in the ship acquisition process are optimistic and are already discussing details beyond the technical and financial assessments that have been made, such as the name of the ship.
“Minas Gerais is the strongest designation at the time. Rio de Janeiro was ‘saved’ for the future aircraft carrier. However, nothing definite. Only with the execution of the acquisition is that defined.”
The helicopter carrier was constructed in the mid-1990s and commissioned in September 1998. In November 2015, the MoD confirmed that HMS Ocean is to be decommissioned in 2018, as the new aircraft carriers of the QE II class become operational.
In 2016 HMS Ocean (L12) carried the UK’s Joint Expeditionary Force (Maritime) Task Group on deployment to the Mediterranean and Gulf. This Amphibious Task Group included HMS Bulwark, HMS Ocean, Ministry of Defense Strategic Ro-Ro vessel, MV Eddystone and 42 Commando. In her role as a helicopter carrier and amphibious assault ship, Ocean is designed to deliver troops by helicopter or by landing craft – the ship has six helicopters and carries four Mk5 landing craft vehicle and personnel (LCVP).
In Brazil the Navy have decided to abandon the refit of the aircraft carrier Sao Paulo and decommission the vessel after a series of technical issues and accidents. Rectification costs are understood to be a major factor in this decision.
The Sao Paulo is a Clemenceau class aircraft carrier commissioned in 1963 by the French Navy as Foch and was transferred in 2000 to Brazil, where she became the new flagship of the Brazilian Navy. The earlier intention of the navy was that the vessel would continue in active service until 2039, at which time the vessel would be nearly 80 years old. IHS Janes reported that during its career with the Brazilian Navy, São Paulo has suffered from ‘serviceability issues and has never managed to operate for more than three months at a time without the need for repairs and maintenance’.
Once operated AF-1/1A (Skyhawk) attack fighters and KC-2 (C-1 Trader) flying tankers, the fixed wing fleet operated by the Brazilian Naval Aviation (AvN) has shrunk to three aircraft. Absent of a carrier deck to train on, this small component is likely to retire or converted to operate from land. Once accepted into service, the Ocean will be able to carry the growing fleet of rotary-wing aircraft operated by the AvN, which includes Super Lynx, Sea King, S-70B, and EC-725.