HMS Ocean limps into Gibraltar 24 hours after expected arrival time
Gibraltar - 17th MArch 2017 - The Birtish Royal Navy carrier HMS Ocean limped into the British naval base in Gibraltar on Friday mornings assisted by four tug boats.
HMS Ocean had been expected to arrived on Thursday as announced by the Ministry of Defence earlier in the week. The Thursday arrival did not materialise as reports emerged of possible engine problems delaying its entry.
The delay was initially attributed by officials to the bad weather.
HMS Ocean arrived in the Bay of Gibraltar at around 8.30am and was met by four tugs boats that assisted it to navigate through the Bay of Gibraltar and into the British Naval Base even though weather conditions had seen calmer seas.
Commissioned in September 1998 and after an extension of the original ten years of service HMS Ocean is expected to be decommissioned on March 31 of next year.
The Ministry of Defence earlier on Wednesday announced that BRITAIN’s largest operational warship, HMS OCEAN, would arrive in Gibraltar on Thursday for what they described as “ some well earned rest and recuperation at the end of a 6½ month deployment.”
HMS Ocean had, however, already had a short three day stop in Malta. The Royal Navy's largest warship sailed into the Grand Harbour for a three-day stopover, according to the Times of Malta on the 10th March, just six days before its expected arrival in Gibraltar, in what was described as “probably her last visit to Malta before being decommissioned.”
Its arrival in Gibraltar for a short stay visit “for recuperation and rest” for its crew would have seen it take on two breaks within a space of a week.
HMS OCEAN is a helicopter carrier and assault ship. She has just completed a six-month tour of duty, the last three of them east of Suez as the Command platform for Combined Task Force 50, the principal warfighting commander in the Gulf. Predominantly a US carrier task group the Royal Navy took command of this group for the first time with HMS OCEAN as the Flagship of the force.
Combined Task Force 50 is a multi-national task force responsible for maintaining the free flow of trade, freedom of navigation for shipping and regional security in the Middle East.
HMS Ocean is to sail to Devonport before the end of the month. - UPDATE - Crew members have confirmed to locals, upon their arrival, that HMS Ocean is operating with one main engine only after experiencing problems prior to its arrival to Gibraltar. Repairs are expected to take place in Gibraltar whilst at berth.
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HMS Ocean limps into port 24 hours after scheduled arrival time