Helicopter carrier takes over as Royal Navy’s fleet flagship

The aircraft carrier is the largest warship ever built by the Royal Navy and has 700 sailors and 200 civilian personnel on board. PHOTO: Royal Navy

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HMS Ocean has taken over as the Royal Navy’s flagship.

The Plymouth-based helicopter carrier has assumed the role from HMS Bulwark.

Ocean is paving the way for future Portsmouth-based aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth, which will become the fleet flagship when she enters service.

Meanwhile, Ocean will sail next month for a series of exercises to prove her capabilities.

HMS Ocean recently finished fitting new communications and IT systems which now allows the ship to host a staff, headed by a Rear Admiral, commanding UK and NATO Task Groups.

As well as the ship’s role as the Royal Navy’s flagship, the headquarters staff in Ocean will be the Maritime Component Commander of the NATO Response Force (NRF) in 2016.

Hosting this key NATO role in the Fleet Flagship demonstrates the UK’s commitment to NATO and the Alliance’s regional partners.

In preparation for the NATO role, Ocean and the staff will take command of a series of major multinational exercises being run throughout the summer and autumn which will validate the ability to command Task Groups comprising over 50 warships.