Warship returns from Games support duties
FROM the Thames to the Tamar, HMS Ocean has finally come home for a well-earned rest and 12-month refit.
The UK's largest warship has spent a successful summer acting as a base for military personnel tasked with keeping the London 2012 Games safe.
Moored off Greenwich the ship welcomed almost 20,000 visitors during its stay, accommodated more than 1,000 military personnel from all three armed services working at the Games and hosted five Royal Navy and five Army Lynx helicopters, supporting police with air and river security.
She also operated London Air Ambulance and Metropolitan Police helicopters.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Sunday, May 26 2013
Her role was described by Lt Cdr Andrew Plenty as acting as a "fire alarm – break glass when required".
He said: "Our job was to support the civil authorities, being prepared for anything that could occur.
"We were very, very privileged to take part in assisting with the Games.
"A key part of our work was engaging with the community, letting them know why we were there. It's not everyday you have a 21,000 tonne warship sitting on your doorstep!"
Commander Jon Asbridge described the operation as the HMS Ocean crew "doing our normal role but in an unusual place".
He said during the refit the crew would go from "about 400 to about 74" by the end of the year.
Some will go onto other ships, some to shore and others were coming to the end of their careers.
Cdr Asbridge added: "When the ship was being designed, no-one would have believed it would have worked the Olympic and Paralympic Games in London. What a fantastic way to finish our tour, with a bang rather than just a couple of exercises. It was the chance of a lifetime for all of us."
Captain Andrew Betton, aged 44, said the operation was a "tremendous experience" for the crew.
He described the Games as "absolutely superb" and praised the way London and the rest of the country celebrated the events.
For Capt Betton it was his final day at sea with HMS Ocean before he took on a new role with the Ministry of Defence.
He said HMS Ocean would now spend several months in dry dock before it returns to sea, relieving HMS Illustrious as the country's high readiness carrier in October 2014.