Naval Today reports that the Turkish government is interested in buying the helicopter carrier HMS Ocean, which is due for decommissioning from the Royal Navy.
As a landing helicopter dock (LHD), the HMS Ocean can carry up to 40 vehicles and 830 troops. In terms of helicopters, it can support up to 18 aircraft, from heavyweight platforms such as the Chinook and Merlin to lightweight anti-submarine warfare (ASW) helicopters such as the AW159.
Commissioned into the Royal Navy in 1998, the HMS Ocean was slotted for retirement by the U.K. without a direct replacement. Having reportedly drawn interest from Brazil and Turkey, the HMS Ocean is being offered for a relatively low upfront price of £80 million.
Turkey is also in the process of constructing its own LHD – to be christened TCG Anadolu – with support from the Spanish shipbuilder Navantia. The TCG Anadolu had its steel-cutting ceremony occurred in May 2016, with delivery due to the Turkish Navy for 2021.
Notes & Comments:
If acquired, the HMS Ocean could both inject expeditionary capabilities to the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) as well as provide a training platform for the forthcoming TCG Anadolu. The TSK could look to deploy its T129 ATAK attack helicopter, CH-47F heavy-lift helicopter, S-70 Seahawk naval helicopters, various light armoured vehicles and amphibious infantry fighting vehicles onboard the HMS Ocean.
Although Turkey’s immediate geo-strategic environment – i.e. the Mediterranean Sea – necessitates amphibious assets, Ankara has broadened its security engagements to include the Middle East and Africa.
For example, Turkey has established a military base in Mogadishu, Somalia to train the local forces of that country. With the HMS Ocean, Turkey could remotely deploy aviation assets to those bases without having to build extensive infrastructure on-land and/or deploy integrated infantry, armour and aviation forces. Overall, LHDs would be a valuable means to connect and support overseas bases.