The Royal Navy’s amphibious assault ship, HMS Ocean has assumed the Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 (SNMG2) Flagship role from HMS Diamond destroyer, whilst alongside in Souda Bay, Crete in Greece on Oct 29.
HMS Ocean had been expecting to take up the SNMG2 Flagship role in September, but was re-tasked to enable her participation in Operation Ruman; the UK Department for International Development (DfID) led humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operation in the Caribbean.
Over the coming months SNMG2 will participate in a number of multi-national exercises to develop greater interoperability between the naval forces of NATO members.
The Commanding Officer of HMS Ocean, Captain Robert Pedre, said: “My Ship’s Company are proud to have assumed the role of SNMG2 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”.
SNMG2 fulfils a vital contingency role in the Mediterranean region; it can never be predicted what events or emerging threats may arise but the Task Group would be the first on call and ready to respond. The Task Group is able to operate as a combined, effective NATO force.
HMS Ocean, a helicopter and Royal Marines carrier, will carry commandos from Taunton-based 40 Commando, the US and French Marines and helicopters from 820, 845 and 847 Royal Naval Air Squadrons based in Culdrose and Yeovilton, in Cornwall and Somerset. The flagship will also embark Chinook helicopters from 18 and 27 Squadrons RAF based at Odiham for some of the deployment.
The ship is designed to deliver troops to the centre of the action by helicopter or by landing craft. The ship has six helicopter operating spots on her flight deck with space in the hangar to hold many more. HMS Ocean’s crew of 400 personnel includes Royal Marines who operate four landing craft to take forces ashore.
The 21,500-tonne amphibious assault ship was launched in 1995, has a top speed of 16 knots and a range in excess 8,000 miles on a single tank of fuel.
NATO Allied Maritime Command