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HMS Ocean leaves Greenwich

19:00 12 September 2012

HMS Ocean left Greenwich today. File picture: Sean Dempsey/PA Wire

HMS Ocean left Greenwich today. File picture: Sean Dempsey/PA Wire

PA Wire/Press Association Images

After weeks of guarding the skies over London during the Olympic and Paralympic Games, HMS Ocean and her 400-strong crew left Greenwich today in a low key departure.

There was no fanfare or fuss onboard the helicopter ship which quietly sailed down the Thames with the help of four tugs and a police escort to help her navigate the narrow channel.

Although her quiet, understated departure contrasted with her high profile arrival in Greenwich in May, it was in keeping with the role she and her crew performed during the Olympics and Paralympics as Navy and Army Air Corps pilots monitored London’s skies with calm competence.

The atmosphere on board the vessel was akin to someone about to move house as the flight deck was empty of aircraft, making it look huge, as was the aircraft hangar below. Another deck which usually houses vehicles contained crates and other large items tied down.

Even the flight deck had trucks and pallets tied down in readiness for the ship’s move to Plymouth where she is due to undergo a refit.

Crowds of people and groups of schoolchildren lined sides of the River Thames as she sailed gracefully towards the sea. Sailors stood in groups and waved as they took a last look at the view.

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