THE Queen has paid tribute to the Royal Navy’s largest operational warship at a decommissioning ceremony today.
HMS Ocean was officially decommissioned in Plymouth earlier today, having been sold to the Brazilian navy for £84m.
She most recently carried out humanitarian work in the Caribbean following the devastation caused by hurricanes Irma and Maria in British overseas territories.
HMS Ocean, commissioned in 1998, officially leaves service with the Royal Navy this week after 20 years of service.
The warship made its final visit to Portsmouth last month, sailing from the naval base on February 6
The Queen was guest of honour at the ceremony alongside the head of the Navy, First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Philip Jones, and more than 500 of the ship’s company and their families.
The Queen inspected a parade of the ship’s company on the jetty before proceeding to the dais.
She said: ‘Throughout her life, HMS Ocean has been at the forefront of global operations, bringing together the men and women of the Royal Navy, Royal Marines, Army and Royal Air Force in their common purpose of defending our nation’s interests and spreading peace and prosperity across the world.
‘It is a testament to the unique nature of this ship and her crew that her success on operations as an amphibious helicopter carrier, in Sierra Leone, Iraq and Libya, has been matched by her capacity to deliver vital humanitarian aid, from the very beginning of her career to her final deployment last autumn.
‘As you all prepare to move on to new challenges I know that, like me, you will always treasure your memories of HMS Ocean.’
Commander Nick Wood, the ship’s second-in-command, said: ‘This is a sad day for us all.
‘This is our home when we are away.
‘But while we will miss HMS Ocean we mustn’t let emotion cloud the bright future for the Royal Navy or stand in the way of progress.’
HMS Ocean will be replaced in the naval fleet by HMS Prince of Wales.