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HMS Ocean departs Rio de Janeiro after successful diplomatic visit

HMS Ocean, an amphibious helicopter carrier and the Royal Navy's largest warship, departed Rio de Janeiro earlier this week after a very successful visit which included amphibious exercises with the Brazilian Navy and Marines, and support for UK Trade & Investment and Diplomatic missions culminating in the Minister for International Security and Strategy, Gerald Howarth, signing an important Defence Cooperation Agreement. This visit also served to reinforce the United Kingdom’s long standing relationship with Brazil. 

Over 100 Brazilian Marines from the 3rd Infantry Battalion, 1st Amphibious Division, joined forces with HMS Ocean’s embarked Royal Marines of 539 Assault Squadron to undertake joint amphibious training exercises sharing knowledge and experience gained from recent operations. The centrepiece was an amphibious landing demonstration using landing craft, hovercraft and helicopters supported by off-shore raiding craft providing covering fire. 

Royal Marines officer, Captain ‘Olly’ Gray of 539 ASRM had this to say about the joint exercise:

“This was an invaluable opportunity for the Royal Marines to demonstrate our core amphibious skills, and broaden our experience of working alongside Brazilian Marines.”

Lance Corporal Ben Jenkins, Royal Marines, was also full of praise for the outcomes of this exchange:

"It’s been a fantastic experience and a completely different environment. We need to maintain our capability and we’re doing just that out here.”

HMS Ocean provided the backdrop for a UK Trade & Investment exhibition where delegates from the Brazilian government and military had the opportunity to meet with representatives of UK defence industries and see the Royal Marines hovercraft and off-shore raiding craft in action.   The ship also hosted a Maritime Security Seminar with and a dinner for 150 dignitaries.

Catering for 4 major events in 2 days, Leading Chef Simon Butcher stated:

“it was hard work but what a great opportunity to show off the Royal Navy’s culinary skills, we’re normally cooking for up to 1200 people 3 times a day but formal occasions are what we do best and what we like doing best” 

Meanwhile, 40 members of HMS Ocean’s crew also gave up their time to assist two local community projects during their short stay in Brazil. 

The commanding officer of HMS Ocean, Captain Keith Blount said:

“I am extremely pleased with the professionalism of the crew during this most important visit, and proud that we have achieved all that we set out to do.  Once again HMS Ocean has ably demonstrated the diverse capabilities of the Royal Navy, ranging from its war-fighting operational capability to defence diplomacy and supporting the interests of UK plc. The Brazilian Marines proved to be a professional and impressive force and we look forward to further opportunities to operate with them again”.

As HMS Ocean departed Rio de Janeiro on her Atlantic crossing to West Africa, she embarked 20 officers of the Nigerian Navy, as part of the UK’s commitment to the Africa Partnership Station . They will spend their time onboard working alongside and training with their Royal Navy counterparts and are the first of 3 classes who will embark in HMS Ocean as part of a capacity building mission.

23rd Sep 2010

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