Ocean Wave 97

Date Feb 1997


Naval deployment


The exact composition of the group will change during the course of the deployment but assigned for the duration will be:

Naval vessels

Aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious

Assault ship HMS Fearless

Guided missile destroyer HMS Gloucester

Frigate HMS Beaver

Frigate HMS Richmond

Fleet submarine HMS Trenchant

Royal Fleet Auxiliaries

Replenishment ship Fort Austin

Replenishment ship Fort George

Logistic landing ship Sir Galahad

Logistic landing ship Sir Percivale

Logistic landing ship Sir Geraint

Fleet tanker RFA Olna

Forward repair ship RFA Diligence

The Task group will be joined for periods of up to three months by:

Frigate HMS Chatham

Frigate HMS Iron Duke

Fleet submarine HMS Trafalgar

Survey ship HMS Herald

The three Hong Kong patrol boats, HM ships Peacock, Plover and

Starling will also join the Task Group at the end of June.

There are rumours that the exercise was to include a second carrier but cash constraints did not permit its deployment.


The programme will be revised as circumstances demand but it is intended to visit the following countries:

Abu Dhabi









South Korea


The Philippines

New Zealand


South Africa

HMS Chatham and the RFA Sir Percivale will be in Hong Kong in June 1997 when the territory is handed back to China.



Ocean Wave 97 is commanded by Rear Admiral Alan West, the Commander United Kingdom Task Group, who will be embarked in HMS Illustrious.

Commodore Paul Stone, the Commodore Amphibious Warfare is embarked upon HMS Fearless

40 Commando group of the Royal Marines will be with the deployment for the entire period, and Headquarters 3 Commando Brigade and elements of 42 and 45 Commandos will join the group at various stages.



Ocean Wave 97 is intended to give the Navy experience of deployed carrier and Task Group operations. To this end the group will be taking part in several exercises. The two most important are Flying Fish, an air defence and anti-submarine exercise off Malaysia with forces from other states involved in the Five Power Defence Arrangements, (Malaysia, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand) and Exercise Setia Kawan, an amphibious exercise with The Royal Brunei Armed Forces.

The British contingent to Flying Fish will total a Carrier (HMS Illustrious); 2 Frigates; a Destroyer; a nuclear powered Submarine; 5 Tornado F3s; 5 Tornado GR1s; an E3D AWACS Sentry; and 2 Nimrod Maritime Patrol Aircraft. The force committed contains some of the UKís latest and most effective equipment.

Ships will also exercise with a number of other navies and will gain further experience of operating both the Sea Harrier F/A 2 and the Lynx MK8 helicopter in hot weather conditions. Royal Air Force Harrier GR7s, embarked in HMS Illustrious, will undertake hot weather trials in the Indian Ocean in March.


Raison díêtre

Regional security

Ocean Wave 97 demonstrates the UK's commitment to the regions visited and the Royal Navy's ability to deploy an operationally effective and self sustaining maritime force out of the Nato area for a significant period. This force includes three key capabilities of the Royal Navy, namely a carrier task group, nuclear powered submarines, and amphibious forces.

The Gulf and South-east Asia are some of the most potentially volatile regions of the world as well as containing considerable British interests and various defence and security commitments. Ocean Wave 97 is a symbolic gesture to Britainís friends and enemies across the globe that she is capable of deploying significant naval resources in their regions. It reinforces the already close security ties with many countries.

The exercise demonstrates the UKís commitment to the Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA) which is seen as one of the foundations of South-east Asian security. Exercise Flying Fish demonstrates the FPDAís ability to marshal a significant military force to secure the regional status quo.



Ocean Wave 97ís most obvious aid to industry will provide opportunities to demonstrate the quality of British defence technology to potential customers.

A more important use for the ships of Ocean Wave 97 will be as a platform to influence people. Officials and other VIPs will be invited to functions on the ships at each port of call. There they will come into contact with business and embassy personnel and so encourage exports.

Defence sales often go hand in hand with wider security agreements with the UK. Ocean Wave 97 represents a demonstration of commitment to our friends and allies. This commitment may help them decide to buy British in the future.

Hong Kong

It has been rumoured that Ocean Wave 97 was designed to coincide with the British withdrawal from Hong Kong to facilitate an emergency evacuation from the colony. Fortunately relations with China have not deteriorated to the extent that an evacuation will be necessary.

February 1997