As the Royal Navy's fleet flagship makes her final departure before being decommissioned, we take a look back at her illustrious career.

HMS Ocean served the Royal Navy for 20 years but is to be replaced as flagship by the new aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth.

A dedicated helicopter carrier and amphibious assault ship, HMS Ocean was designed to deliver troops to battle and saw service in Iraq and Libya during her time in service. 

She will be assuming the role of NATO flagship in the Mediterranean for the remainder of the year; her proud Captain, Rober 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.”

HMS Ocean Statistics


HMS Ocean was launched on 11 October, and was subsequently named at Barrow by Her Majesty the Queen in 1998.


She was sent to the Mediterranean in readiness for possible involvement in the Kosovo conflict.


Supporting Operation Palliser in Sierra Leone, HMS Ocean aided the suppression of rebel activity.

2003 - Iraq

Ocean was deployed for Operation Telic, the UK contribution to the 2003 Iraq War, for which she was awarded the battle honour "Al Faw 2003".

She set sail from Plymouth on January 16, carrying 300 Royal Marines and 400 air crew.

Ocean was a platform for 22 helicopters and her 200 Royal Navy medical staff treated casualties from both sides of the conflict.

HMS Ocean en route to Iraq in 2003.
HMS Ocean is joined by dolphins whilst en route to Iraq


British citizens stranded in continental Europe by the eruption of an Icelandic volcano were ferried across the Channel by HMS Ocean.

2011 - Libya

HMS Ocean is sent to aid NATO operations concerning the Libyan conflict. 

This was the first time that Apache helicopters had been sent into action from a Royal Navy ship.

Apache crews from 656 Squadron Army Air Corps carried out effective missions inside Libya, hitting military vehicles, installations and communications equipment.

Ocean spent four months operating off Libya, spending 87 days at sea.

An Army Air Corps Apache helicopter takes off from HMS Ocean during Operation Ellamy.
An Army Air Corps Apache helicopter takes off from HMS Ocean during Operation Ellamy (Libya)


Mooring at Greenwich, she provided logistics support, accommodation and a helicopter landing site during the London Olympic Games.


Ocean became the Royal Navy Fleet Flagship, taking over from HMS Bulwark. 


HMS Ocean assumed command of the maritime counter-Daesh effort.

HMS Ocean returns to Plymouth Sound from an eight month deployment off Libya.
HMS Ocean returns to Plymouth Sound from an eight-month deployment off Libya

HMS Ocean V HMS Queen Elizabeth: The Key Stats


HMS Ocean:

Weight: 22,000 tonnes

Top Speed: 18 knots

Length: 203 meters by 35 meters

Crew: 285 - 1,300 personnel

Carries: 18 Rotary Wing Aircraft- including Sea King, Lynx, Wildcat, Merlin, Chinook and Apache Attack helicopters

HMS Queen Elizabeth:

Weight: 65,000 tonnes

Top Speed: 25 knots

Length: 280 meters by 70 meters (that’s enough space for three football pitches!)

Crew: 700 -1,600 personnel

Carries: 40 Aircraft - 36 F35 Fighter Jets and 4 Helicopters

More: Royal Navy Flagship HMS Ocean Could Be Sold To Brazil