In all the talk of sacrificing the amphibious fleet in order to retain CVF it is a worthwhile exercise to see how defence diplomacy is done by the Royal Navy.
HMS Ocean is a Landing Platform Helicopter and whilst many complain that she was built to commercial standards and therefore not a ‘proper warship’ the reality is, she has been tremendous value for money and will be a tough act to follow when decommissioned towards the end of the decade..
Here recent voyage shows just how versatile this type of vessel is, providing a significant effect for a relatively modest outlay.
The first stop was Exercise Auriga in the USA, a spot of amphibious training with the Brazilian marines then a hop across the Atlantic to take part in the Nigerian fleet review, hosting the odd treaty signing and repairing a school.
Of course, if we do end up with the second CVF acting as an Ocean replacement we will have to settle for not having any embarked landing craft or rear loading ramp (when it works that is!)
Exercise Auriga and Kearsarge – USA
AURIGA is the major Royal Navy deployment of 2010, exercising on the Eastern Seaboard of North America and in the Western Atlantic. There were many more vessels other than Ocean taking part but these are just about Ocean, I have even excluded the RAF and their deployment aboard HMS Ark Royal.
As if that wasn’t enough, on Saturday 10th July a team of Royal Marines from 9 Assault Squadron, based on board HMS Ocean, helped save an American fisherman whose boat was on the brink of sinking. The eagle-eyed marines spotted the boat while conducting a routine patrol in their Landing Craft.
During the deployment the crew also managed to raise several thousand pounds for charity
After leaving the Caribbean the next stop was Rio de Janeiro. Activities included hosting a trade agreement signing ceremony and exercising with Brazilian Marines.
After the exercise HMS Ocean returned to Rio De Janeiro to host a UK Trade and Industry exhibition, a reception for local dignitaries and a bi-lateral security seminar culminating in the signing of a UK/Brazil Defence Cooperation Agreement and a formal dinner for 150 guests onboard.
During the week in Rio sailors and Royal Marines from the ship helped with a number of community projects.
Nigeria and the Gulf of Guinea
The Presidential Fleet Review was part of activities for the nation’s 50th independent anniversary celebrations.
After Nigeria was a short stay in Sierra Leone and on the way back will be a number of cooperative operations around Cape Verde with their law enforcement teams.
What a superb example of combining training with defence diplomacy and standing patrols.
This is defence diplomacy done right; let’s not sacrifice this on the stone cold altar of CVF.