A NORTH Devon sailor is playing a key role in exercises with Brazilian Marines near Rio de Janeiro. Matt Christie, from Fremington near Barnstaple, is a stoker with the Royal Navy s largest warship HMS Ocean. The 23-year-old Petty Officer s job is to ma

A NORTH Devon sailor is playing a key role in exercises with Brazilian Marines near Rio de Janeiro.

Matt Christie, from Fremington near Barnstaple, is a stoker with the Royal Navy's largest warship HMS Ocean.

The 23-year-old Petty Officer's job is to make sure enough power gets to different parts of the helicopter carrier as she carries Brazilian Marines, aircraft and assault boats.

His small team is in charge of supplying energy for everything from plug sockets to the landing lights for night-flying helicopters.

During the past week Marines from Britain and Brazil have worked together to launch onto the island of Marambaia close to Rio, using hovercraft and packed landing craft.

When PO Christie has not been supporting that, the former Pilton Community College student has been finding out how his three-month-old daughter Lana is getting on.

He said: "It's an exciting time to be working with the Brazilians - we don't do it very often and it makes you think differently about how you might go about your job.

"We are in an amazing part of the world but if we don't carry out our roles properly it affects the team, so in that sense it is business as usual."

PO Christie joined Devonport-based HMS Ocean a year and a half ago, and has worked on several different mechanical sections of the ship.

Since then the amphibious helicopter carrier has travelled to the Far East as part of the Taurus deployment last year, and to the freezing Arctic in January for Exercise Cold Response.

PO Christie said: "It's one of the main attractions of the work, to be able to experience such amazing places around the world.

"Earlier this summer we took part in Exercise Auriga off the coast of America, so we've worked through an amazing range of conditions.

"We're a large ship but we have lots of roles we can play, so that keeps my job interesting as I don't know what I'll have to respond to next."

PO Christie was able to leave HMS Ocean for a month when his daughter Lana was born, but now he is being kept informed of her news by partner Amanda and his stepson Alex, six.

PO Christie said: "I speak with the family as much as I can and Amanda is sending me pictures all the time of Lana.

"It's quite tough being away when you know she's growing up, but this is my job and I like what I do."

After visiting Brazil HMS Ocean is due to cross the Atlantic to continue her duties off the west coast of Africa.