and MoD sells Royal Navy flagship HMS Ocean to Brazil for £84m
The Ministry of Defence has sold the Royal Navy flagship, HMS Ocean, to Brazil for around £84m, in a bid to plug a major funding black hole in its accounts.
HMS Ocean had already been due to be decommissioned later this year and be replaced by HMS Queen Elizabeth as the UK's new flagship.
The 22,000-ton vessel, which entered service in 1998, provided hurricane support in the Caribbean last year and played a key security role in the London 2012 Olympics.
The Brazilian Navy will pay for modifications to the ship, to be undertaken by UK firms Babcock and BAE Systems, and will then take possession of HMS Ocean in June.
Its sale, which was rumoured earlier this year, follows a scathing report from the National Audit Office late last month of the MoD's accounts.
In the report, the national spending watchdog
The MoD is planning to spend £179.7bn over the next decade on equipment, including on five Type 31e frigates and on its replacement Trident submarine programme.
Announcing the sale today, Clive Walker, of the Defence Equipment Sales Authority, which handled the transaction, said it would "provide a financial return to the UK which will now be reinvested in defence".
However, it could prompt questions to resurface over why the MoD agreed to a £65m refit of the vessel just four years ago, given it is now being decommissioned and sold.
The overhaul involved an upgrade of all communications and weapons systems, and took fifteen months in total.
The Government has said it took the decision to pay for a refit at that time due to safety requirements, despite knowing that the vessel's decommissioning date would be 2018.
It said by that year HMS Ocean would have "reached the end of her life".