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HMS Ocean pays emotional farewell visit to her affiliated city of Sunderland

HMS Ocean pays emotional farewell visit to her affiliated city of Sunderland
11 July 2017
Two decades after their ship was first bound with one of the great industrial powerhouses of northern England, HMS Ocean returned to Sunderland for the last time.

No longer Britain's biggest warship - a title she has lost this summer to HMS Queen Elizabeth now the new carrier is at sea - there's one tag no-one can deprive the Mighty O of: Sunderland's favourite.

Wearsiders turned out in force during the helicopter carrier's final visit to the North East - six days on the river which reached their emotional climax on a searing Saturday morning when 240 sailors and Royal Marines marched through the heart of the city… and brought shopping to a standstill.

"Everyone in Sunderland has always been very proud of their links with HMS Ocean and it will sadden many knowing that her sailings are drawing to a close," the city's mayor, Cllr Doris MacKnight, told the massed ranks of military in front of her at the civic war memorial in Burdon Road, before the ship's company began their circuit march around the centre behind the Band of HM Royal Marines.

"Over the years, HMS Ocean has had magnificent crews, she is a magnificent ship, and her size, importance, and status has been reflected in her role as the Royal Navy's flagship.

"Sunderland's affiliation with HMS Ocean is a very proud one."

It is widely recognised that the welcome to the Royal Navy in Sunderland is second to none. HMS Ocean is proud to serve as a floating ambassador to Sunderland wherever we sail

Captain Rob Pedre, Commanding Officer of HMS Ocean

The ship began her final visit by inviting 320 of Sunderland's great and good on board for a demonstration of what the ship and her crew can do followed by a reception and Colours ceremony.

Those who weren't invited to the do were able to walk over the gangway on Sunday when the carrier was opened to visitors for seven hours.

And youngsters interested in careers in engineering, science and maths were hosted on board to give an idea of some of the technology they could get their hands on in the Royal Navy as well as the application of science at sea.

The carrier is due to pay off next spring after performing her final major operational duty this autumn when she leads a NATO task group in the Mediterranean.

She's been affiliated with the Royal Navy since 1997, but it was eight more years before civic leaders bestowed the Freedom of the City upon the ship and its sailors.

It has been an affiliation much enjoyed by Ocean, the carrier's Commanding Officer, Captain Rob Pedre told Mackems.

"I would like to thank the people of Sunderland, the businesses and all the organisations in this historic city for the wonderful reception we have received," he said.

"It is widely recognised that the welcome to the Royal Navy in Sunderland is second to none. HMS Ocean is proud to serve as a floating ambassador to Sunderland wherever we sail."

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