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HMS Ocean was built by Kvaerner Govan on the Clyde taking advantage of commercial build methods and facilities, before sailing from Barrow-in-Furness for fitting out prior to acceptance into service with the Royal Navy. She was launched on 11 October 1995 and named by Her Majesty The Queen on 20 February 1998, at the yard of the prime contractor Vickers Shipbuilding Engineering Limited, prior to the delivery voyage to her base port of Devonport.

She was commissioned on 30 September 1998 and completed her trials programme and initial BOST (Basic Operational Sea Training) in the spring of 1999. The Amphibious Helicopter Carrier was originally conceived in the mid 1980's to provide the sort of amphibious assault capabilities last offered by HM Ships Albion and Bulwark. The ship's primary role is to carry an Embarked Military Force (EMF) supported by 12 medium support helicopters, 6 attack helicopters and 4 Landing Craft Vehicle Personnel (LCVP) Mk 5 Landing Craft. Her secondary roles include afloat training, a limited anti-submarine warfare (ASW) platform and a base for anti-terrorist operations. HMS Ocean is the sixth ship to bear the name, the most recent being a Light Fleet Carrier also built on the Clyde and commissioned on 30 June 1945. She became renowned for the first true jet aircraft landing onboard a ship at sea by a Vampire Jet on 3 December 1945, her part in the Korean war and later the Suez crisis.

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