UKHMS Ocean begins second anti-drugs deployment in the Caribbean

Roy­al Navy war­ship HMS Ocean has arrived in the Caribbean where she will pro­vide con­tin­gency sup­port to British depen­dent ter­ri­to­ries dur­ing the hur­ri­cane sea­son, as well as con­tribute towards ongo­ing anti-drug smug­gling oper­a­tions.

Embarked Royal Marines on HMS Ocean's flight deck
Embarked Roy­al Marines on HMS Ocean’s flight deck
Source: Min­istry of Defence, UK
Click to enlarge

Hav­ing already deployed to the Caribbean in 2007, when the amphibi­ous assault ship made a major impact on drug smug­gling by seiz­ing ille­gal car­goes of cocaine worth more than US$50m, the ship and her crew are well pre­pared for what lies ahead of them. 

HMS Ocean will pro­vide direct assis­tance to the Joint Inter­a­gency Task Force based in Key West, Flori­da, as the focus onboard shifts rapid­ly from amphibi­ous war-fight­ing to mar­itime security. 

HMS Ocean’s Com­mand­ing Offi­cer, Cap­tain Kei­th Blount, said: 

“Mar­itime secu­ri­ty is rou­tine busi­ness for the Roy­al Navy, and with our heli­copters, boats, hov­er­craft and Roy­al Marines, HMS Ocean is par­tic­u­lar­ly well-suit­ed to the task while still offer­ing the abil­i­ty to switch roles rapid­ly across the full range of mar­itime operations. 

“The fact that only last month we were con­duct­ing high-inten­si­ty amphibi­ous exer­cis­es on the east­ern seaboard is a clas­sic demon­stra­tion of the Roy­al Navy’s inher­ent ver­sa­til­i­ty and the UK’s abil­i­ty to deploy mar­itime expe­di­tionary capa­bil­i­ty around the world. 

“Mean­while, our pres­ence in the Caribbean is evi­dence of the UK’s con­tin­ued com­mit­ment to her over­seas ter­ri­to­ries. Our abil­i­ty to engage and work with oth­er navies and mar­itime agen­cies world­wide is also an impor­tant ele­ment of con­flict pre­ven­tion and build­ing trust.” 

The ship’s Lynx heli­copters are cru­cial to polic­ing the huge area of the Caribbean. They are equipped with pow­er­ful sur­face-search radars and can pro­vide air­borne sup­port with a top speed in excess of 150mph (240km/h) and a range of over 300 miles (480km), cov­er­ing vast areas of the sea in a rel­a­tive­ly short peri­od of time. 

They can be used for intel­li­gence-gath­er­ing and recon­nais­sance oper­a­tions as well as the dis­rup­tion of any ille­gal activ­i­ty. Mem­bers of 539 Assault Squadron Roy­al Marines are also onboard, with their hov­er­craft and high-speed off­shore raid­ing craft. 

HMS Ocean left Ply­mouth in June, then com­plet­ed a large amphibi­ous war-fight­ing exer­cise off the coast of North Car­oli­na as part of the UK’s Auri­ga naval task group. 

This brought togeth­er British air­craft car­ri­er and amphibi­ous task groups to exer­cise along­side the Unit­ed States Navy Kearsarge amphibi­ous group and the 26th Marine Expe­di­tionary Unit — a total of over 8,000 Navy and Marine personnel. 

HMS Ocean was last in the Caribbean in 2007, and, with 12 mem­bers of the crew orig­i­nal­ly from St Vin­cent, Grena­da, St Lucia, Domini­ca and Trinidad, her links with the region go deep­er. These 12 crew mem­bers are all jus­ti­fi­ably proud to be work­ing clos­er to home and con­tribut­ing to mar­itime secu­ri­ty in the region although unfor­tu­nate­ly there will not be time for them to vis­it their home nations. 

In an uncer­tain world, where con­flicts and nat­ur­al dis­as­ters erupt with­out warn­ing, the Roy­al Navy pro­tects the UK’s inter­ests world­wide and pro­vides the UK with flex­i­ble polit­i­cal and mil­i­tary choic­es to pro­mote peace and security. 

With high­ly trained and moti­vat­ed per­son­nel, the Roy­al Navy, togeth­er with its Roy­al Marines Com­man­dos who pro­vide the UK’s elite amphibi­ous infantry, all sup­port­ed at sea by the Roy­al Fleet Aux­il­iary, is the only branch of our Armed Forces con­tin­u­al­ly deployed across sea, land and air. 

Press release
Min­istry of Defence, UK 

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