British helicopter carrier hosts USMC

British helicopter carrier hosts USMC

26-Jul-2010 Source: Royal Navy

HMS Ocean is currently participating in Exercise Kearsarge – a US led exercise being conducted off the coast of North Carolina, in support of the deployment training package for the United States Navy’s Amphibious Ready Group.  As a result, the Royal Navy’s largest helicopter carrier has been operating with some of the US Marine Corp’s largest helicopters.

Firstly, the enormous Sikorsky CH-53E Super Stallion arrived.  Weighing in at 33,000 lbs it is the third largest helicopter in the world (beaten only by the Russian Mi-26 and Mi-12), dwarfing the Royal Navy’s Sea King helicopters, which weigh in at just over 14,000 lbs.  The Super Stallion can transport up to 55 troops or 30,000 lbs of cargo and can carry external slung loads of up to 36,000 lbs. The aircraft has a cruise speed of 173 mph and a range of 621 miles.

While not quite as large as the Super Stallion, the Bell-Boeing MV-22B Osprey is certainly the most unusual aircraft to operate from the deck of HMS Ocean.  Also weighing in at 33,000 lbs, the tiltrotor aircraft is designed to combine the functionality of a conventional helicopter with the long-range, high-speed cruise performance of a turboprop aircraft.  For takeoff and landing, it typically operates as a helicopter with the rotor blades horizontal. Once airborne, the rotor blades rotate forward 90° in as little as 12 seconds for horizontal flight.  The Osprey can transport up to 32 troops or 20,000 lbs of cargo and can carry external slung loads of up to 15,000 lbs. The aircraft has a cruise speed of 277 mph and a range of over 1000 miles.

Throughout the exercise the US Marine Corp’s aircraft will operate with HMS Ocean and HMS Albion, conducting stores transfers within the Task Group and in support of the Royal Marines ashore, but more importantly, the US is a principle partner of the UK and the development and maintenance of interoperability between the US and British forces is seen as a vital enabler for future operations.

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