Parade plan to welcome home Sunderland’s adopted warship

COMING HOME: The crew of HMS Ocean will parade through Sunderland.
COMING HOME: The crew of HMS Ocean will parade through Sunderland.

SUNDERLAND’S adopted warship is setting sail for the River Wear.

More than 300 officers and ratings from HMS Ocean will parade through the city centre as part of a visit during the bank holiday weekend.

It’s going to be a great honour to exercise the Freedom of the City on the Saturday and give people the opportunity to look around the Royal Navy’s largest warship when we open to visitors on the Sunday and Monday.

Captain Timothy Henry of HMS Ocean

The Royal Navy’s largest warship and her crew were granted the Freedom of the City in 2004 and she last visited in May 2012, when huge numbers of families turned out to see her during the visit.

After her refurbishment and a rededication by HM the Queen, HMS Ocean is due to arrive at the mouth of the River Wear on the afternoon of Friday, May 1, and leave on the afternoon of Tuesday 5 May.

The freedom parade will be held on the Saturday at 11am.

She will be berthed at the Port of Sunderland’s Corporation Quay and be open to the public on Sunday and Monday, May 3 and 4.

Chief Executive of Sunderland City Council, Dave Smith, said: “I know people will once again be looking forward to seeing officers and crew parade through the city centre.

“By exercising the Freedom of the City, there’s an opportunity for everybody to show their appreciation and how proud Sunderland is of its links with the Royal Navy.”

In addition to the Freedom Parade and being open to the public, the ship’s crew are taking part in the Sunderland Half Marathon on the Sunday. Other activities are also being finalised for the visit, which will be the eighth time she has visited her adopted city.

Captain Timothy Henry, Commanding Officer of HMS Ocean, welcomed The Mayor of Sunderland to the ship’s rededication in March.

He told him: “I am really looking forward to bringing HMS Ocean back to her affiliated city of Sunderland.

“It’s going to be a great honour to exercise the Freedom of the City on the Saturday and give people the opportunity to look around the Royal Navy’s largest warship, when we open to visitors on the Sunday and Monday.”

The ship will be open to visitors on the Sunday between 1pm and 6pm, with the council warning road closures in the city centre will be in place because of the 10k run.

On Monday, it will welcome guests from 11am and 5pm.

Due to limited parking near Corporation Quay, drivers are advised to use Sunniside and St Mary’s car parks for the 10-minute walk to Corporation Quay.