THE Royal Navy’s helicopter carrier HMS Ocean has helped bring a father and son together to work on returning the ship to sea.
A family reunion took place when a Royal Navy sailor from HMS Ocean and his father - Lee and Phil Agar - worked side by side to return the ship to the Royal Navy’s operational fleet after the amphibious vessel had a major refit in dry dock in Plymouth.
The ship has passed numerous flying, weapons and engineering trials to return her to the fleet which required a close partnership between the Royal Navy and contractors who delivered the refit – which the father and son team represent on a small scale.
Lee, a Leading Engineering Technician, and his father contractor employee Phil, shared the finishing touches to the work package during HMS Ocean’s marine engineering sea acceptance trials. As Lee helped set equipment to work, test and adjust it, Phil completed the paint work that preserves the metal work once all testing is complete.
Phil said: “It’s been a good experience; Lee has always been hardworking, always cheerful and its been brilliant to see what he does onboard, and have a hand in HMS Ocean taking over as the in-service landing platform helicopter. The ship’s company have been great.”
This is not the first time they have worked together, but it is the first time they have been to sea together.
Lee originally left the Royal Navy in 2003 and went to work in the same factory as his father, where he decided that what he really wanted to do after all was be a Marine Engineer in a Royal Navy warship.
He rejoined in September 2004 and has never looked back. The Navy has been part of family life for far longer than that though, Phil having started his working life as MoD apprentice, but now works for Pyeroy, a subcontractor of Babcock Marine, who carried out HMS Ocean’s refit.
Which is how he found himself spending a month at sea in HMS Ocean working alongside his son. While Phil has left the ship, Lee has returned to HMS Ocean to take her to sea after the summer for her next series of exercises and deployment.
HMS Ocean is designed to deliver troops to the centre of the action by helicopter or by landing craft. Aviation capabilities include six helicopter operating spots on her flight deck with space in the hangar to hold, transport and maintain many more aircraft.
Ocean’s crew 380 personnel includes 9 Assault Squadron Royal Marines which operate the four landing craft to take combat troops ashore.
The 21,500 tonne ship was launched in 1995, has a top speed in excess of 16 knots and a range of 8,000 miles.