The United Kingdom Ministry of Defence (MOD) may sell the amphibious assault ship HMS Ocean (L12) to Brazil.
The vessel, currently the Royal Navy’s flagship, is to be decommissioned next year. Speaking to the Plymouth Herald, an unnamed official from the MOD confirmed that HMS Ocean could be sold to Brazil, or another government. The warship has apparently attracted particular interest in Brasilia, which retired its fixed-wing aircraft carrier earlier this year.
Based at Devonport Naval Base, HMS Ocean is currently operated as a helicopter assault ship, typically embarking Royal Navy Merlin Mk2 and Sea King Mk7 aircraft, Royal Air Force Chinooks, as well as Army Air Corps Apaches.
In November 2015 the MOD confirmed its plans to decommission Ocean in 2018, as a cost-saving measure, despite the recent completion of a £65m refit.
Earlier this year the Brazilian Navy announced it would decommission its sole aircraft carrier, NAe São Paulo (A12), which originally served the French Navy as Foch.
According to a statement from Brazil’s Directorate of Communications and Information Technology of the Navy: ‘After several attempts to recover the operational capacity of the São Paulo, the Admiralty concluded that a modernisation programme would require high financial investment, contain technical uncertainties and would require a long completion period.’
While HMS Ocean would not offer a like-for-like replacement for São Paulo, the addition of a helicopter carrier would provide a significant boost for the Brazilian Navy as it seeks to expans its rotary-wing operations, and would provide a unique capability in the Latin America region.