Monday, June 29, 2009

Penang welcomes British Helicopter Carrier.

History was made in Penang when Royal Navy helicopter carrier - HMS Ocean -L12, anchored in the Pearl of Orient for the first time on June 18, 2009.

The Penang stopover is a welcome respite for Her Majesty ship and her thousand plus crew who have just returned from a tropical war game at their favorite army camp in Brunei.
Needless to say, the arrival of the HMS Ocean brought much excitement to the otherwise mundane ferry terminal in Butterworth. However, the sight of the warship gets more profound if one could grab the opportunity to view it from the iconic ferries plying across the narrow Penang Strait.

It is from the ferry, one can appreciate the full scale of the carrier. The 208 meter long floating airfield dwarfs over everything nearby at the wharf.

However, all eyes are quickly drawn to the Sea Kings and Chinooks on board the Amphibious Assault Ship.

Another spectacular feature of the warship is the cutting edge military hardware packed with awesome firepower. The most noticeable lot is the Phalanx CIWS - the state-of-the-art anti ship missile system positioned at the HMS Ocean’s bow and helm. I saw only two Phalanx units on board although Wikipedia notes there are three.

The ship is currently on a month long journey back to their home base in Plymouth.

Quite expectedly, the arrival of the British warship captured the headlines in the local press. The Penang based Chinese daily Kwong Wah Yit Poh ran a special feature on the event (June 18, 2009 edition; see attached photo) and the news also went national on Starmetro (Warship docks in Butterworth, June 25, 2009)

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