Queen Elizabeth II decommissioned one of the largest British warships, the former Royal Navy flagship HMS Ocean (L12), during a ceremony Tuesday aboard the amphibious ship at the RN’s Devonport Naval Base.
The 21,000-ton “Mighty O,” which entered service with the Royal Navy in 1998, is being replaced as the fleet’s flagship by the nation’s new aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08), according to a statement released by the British government.
Decommissioning is not the end for Ocean. Last month, the British government announced it had inked a deal with Brazil, which agreed to pay about $118 million to buy the Royal Navy amphibious warship. Aside from the U.S. Navy, Brazil is the only other navy in the Americas to operate an aircraft carrier. After a refit period, teh ship is set to reume operations with the Brazillian Navy in June.
During 20 years of service, Ocean had been involved in multiple naval operations and exercises. Ocean was joined operations off the coast of Sierra Leone in 2000, Iraq in 2003, and Libya in 2011, according to the Royal Navy. Ocean has also provided humanitarian aid, to Honduras and Nicaragua in 1999 following Hurricane Mitch. This past September, Ocean again provided humanitarian aid in the Caribbean, to the British Virgin Islands in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma.
Queen Elizabeth, named after the Tudor-era queen, is a conventionally powered ship and does not have catapults or arresting gear. Queen Elizabeth is designed to carry an air wing including Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters. The carrier will conduct its first deployment with a U.S. Marine Corps squadron of F-35Bs.
The $4.1-billion HMS Queen Elizabeth commissioned on Dec. 7 and is the first of two 65,000-ton conventionally powered carriers planned for the RN. The second, Prince of Wales (R09), is set to commission in 2020.