L-12 Ocean Class
The emphasis that future operations will place upon the ability to insert and extract troops into a country from the sea - either as deterrent forces or as part of a peacekeeping or humanitarian mission - demands that specialist shipping must be up to the job. HMS Ocean, launched in October 1995, is a step in this direction. She is the United Kingdom's first purpose built Landing Platform, Helicopter, designed to take Royal Marines and Army units anywhere in the world and land them by large helicopters and by landing craft. A very versatile ship, she cannot however land heavy tanks and for that role the Royal Navy looked to acquire replacements for Fearless and Intrepid (which are some thirty years old) in the shape of two new Albion-class Landing Platform Dock ships.
HMS Ocean'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. Ocean has already proved her value in operations as diverse as humanitarian relief in Central America and demonstrating the ability to deploy troops rapidly to Sierra Leone.
One of the most controversial and different acquisitions in the British Navy in recent years has been that of the HMS OCEAN, a Landing Platform for Helicopters [LPH], which was put into service in June, 1998. HMS Ocean, officially classed as a Landing Platform (Helicopter), is currently the largest ship in the Royal Navy. HMS Ocean was built based on the design of the Invincible class aircraft carrier with a modified superstructure.
HMS Ocean is capable of transporting and sustaining an embarked military force of up to 800 men equipped with artillery, vehicles and stores. The ship is not designed to land heavy tanks. The Royal Navy has plans to replace HMS Fearless and HMS Intrepid with the new Landing Platform Dock ship for the transportation of heavy tanks. The ship has full facilities for twelve EH101 Merlin and six Lynx helicopters, and landing and refuelling facilities for Chinook helicopters. Twenty Sea Harriers could be carried but not supported. The flight deck is 170m long x 32.6m wide and there are two aircraft lifts. There are four LCVP Mk 5 vehicle/ personnel landing craft on davits. HMS Ocean has capacity for 40 vehicles.
The ship carries a crew of 255, an aircrew of 206 and 480 marines. An additional 320 marines could be accomodated in a short term emergency. Propulsion is provided by two Crossley Pielstick 16 PC2.6 V 200 medium speed diesel engines, rated at 23,904 hp, with two independent shafts and a five-bladed fixed pitch propeller. A 450 kW KaMeWa bow thruster is fitted. The maximum speed is 18 knots and the range is 8,000 miles. HMS Ocean is equipped with the BAE Systems ADAWS 2000 combat data system, Link 11, 14 and 16 communications, a Matra Marconi SATCOM 1D satellite communications system, and a Merlin computer link. The ADAWS 2000 combat data system, installed on both HMS Ocean and on the Royal Navy's Landing Platform Dock LPD assault ship, is compatible with the ships of the Royal Navy' s front line fleet. The self protection combat systems include four Oerlikon/BAE twin 30mm guns together with three Raytheon/General Dynamics Phalanx Mk 15 close-in weapon systems.
The UK Ministry of Defence issued an invitation to tender in July 1987 for an amphibious helicopter carrier for the Royal Navy. In 1992, and after several "false starts" and revisions of requirements, tenders were invited for this ship under a "Whole Ship Procurement" philosophy. This concept required the contractors to design and to build the ship and to take responsibility for all systems [including weaponry] fitted to the vessel. The tenders included only high-level performance requirements, and general guidance drawings of a "typical configuration" to describe some concepts of appropriate physical space configurations.
The contract was awarded to Vickers Shipbuilding and Engineering Limited [VSEL] in May, 1993, at a fixed-price of £139.5 million [apx $210-225 mil, depending on the rate of exchange being applied]. Vickers acted as the ship designer and systems integrator; the construction of the basic ship platform was subcontracted to the Kvaerner Govan shipyard in Glasgow, Scotland. The ship was launched at Govan in October, 1995, and after outfitting of the hull and machinery, she steamed to VSEL's facility at Barrow-on-Furness [in Western England] in November, 1996. Completion of the fitting out to military standards, including installation of combat systems, and communications equipment was performed at the VSEL facility, and were completed in the first quarter of 1998.
The ship's unique features include mixed commercial and military specifications; commercial standards have been applied where ever possible, with military standards being used used in those areas where military performance is critical. For example, the structure was designed to requirements imposed by Lloyd's Register. Where the design did not conform to conventional classification hand calculations were performed. To meet the requirements for damage control the ship was divided into over 1000 water-tight compartments. Unique design concepts were used to satisfy the military shock requirements.
The considered conclusion of Ministry of Defense personnel is that the acquisition was very successful in all respects. First, the cost was extremely low for the type and quality of ship that is being delivered. [Part of the cause for the low price was that VSEL made a management decision to build the vessel at a loss to better position themselves to competitively respond to future British Navy acquisitions. Also, VSEL was able to negotiate a very competitive price from the Kvaerner Govan organization, which was reflected in the 'Best and Final' offer.] Without exception, everyone in MOD with whom I talked felt that this acquisition concept would be the general model of the future, i.e., letting the contractor perform the design, and increasing the use of commercial-type standards and equipment.
Probably the major problem that occurred in the acquisition was in the area of effectively working with the sub-contractors during their participation in the effort. The sub-contractors were in a difficult position in dealing with MOD on-site representatives because they were, in fact, working for the main contractor, VSEL.
The name Ocean for British warships came into use following the capture of the French ship Ocean at the Battle of Lagos Bay in 1759. HMS Ocean was a British first-class battleship of 12950 tons displacement launched in 1898.