HMS Ocean, current Royal Navy's biggest ship is the obvious symbol of excessive military presence in Olympic London. She is serving as helicopter base and barracks for troops and thus usually remains closed to public, but today civilians were let on board for the second time since she had arrived. I wasn't a fan of that security frenzy and still think it was at the very least questionable decision to militarise the event, but it's always interesting to get a look at such a great piece of engineering.
Possibly the pause between Olympics and Paralympics is to blame, but there was almost no queue so it was only needed to wait for the ferry boat to get there. Like at HMS St Albans two years ago, only limited spaces were open, but still it was quite possible to learn something new.
When looking from the distance, I thought those niches in ship's sides are closed with some cover not visible from there when it's not moored. It turned out they're "permanent" housing landing crafts on their cranes (davits):
The font used in various writings is more strict than on HMS St Albans, but resembles pub menu a bit. I actually like it, it's just surprising to read something like "Danger! Explosives!" in careful curlicues:
Some internal warnings (guess nothing secret):
Hangar deck with a "folded" Lynx helicopter and some other vehicles:
Helicopters are brought to the flight deck from there by two lifts like this:
The flight deck has not ski-jump deck and thus is suitable only for helicopters and jump jets:
Since Harriers are now retired, the only option are helicopters. Same is true for older HMS Illustrious which while boasting a ramp, still cannot operate fixed wing aircraft. New "true" aircraft carrier is only expected by 2020 and meanwhile there were thoughts to share one with France. Later rejected, they still did spark inevitable jokes like "what shall we do when French half surrenders?"
Ground connection on the flight deck:
The ship is quite tall as well - taller than great deal of houses in London:
Finally, a video from the ferry boat showing HMS Ocean from all sides, and a link to the corresponding Flickr set: