The crew of Royal Navy warship HMS Bulwark have exercised the Freedom of the City of Durham today in a special parade.
Around 300 sailors and marines, led by the Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines (Portsmouth), marched through the city to Palace Green exercising the ship’s age-old right to march through the city with ‘swords drawn, bayonets fixed, drums beating, bands playing and colours flying’.
The parade will end with a service in Durham Cathedral.
Chairman of Durham County Council, Coun Edward Bell, said: "The Freedom Parade is a great tradition between Durham and HMS Bulwark and it is with great pride that we welcome the ship’s company back to Durham.
"It is quite a sight to behold seeing the company parading from the racecourse through our historic city’s streets up to Palace Green."
The Plymouth-based amphibious assault ship is affiliated to the area and has many links with organisations.
It arrived in Sunderland on Wednesday, and tomorrow morning will sail from the Port of Sunderland and take station a mile off Seaburn Beach for the Sunderland International Air Show.
Thousands of spectators will then witness a display of the ship’s amphibious capabilities at 1pm as landing craft deliver Royal Marines and Viking tracked vehicles against an ‘enemy’ held artillery position. A repeat demonstration will be held between 2pm and 2.30pm on Sunday.
Captain James Parkin, the Captain of HMS Bulwark said: "Bringing HMS Bulwark to the North East is like taking the ship home. Getting reacquainted with so many friends of the ship in Durham and then exercising the Freedom of Durham promises to make a very exciting and special week for everyone in HMS Bulwark.
"This will, of course, be the final time for some six years that HMS Bulwark will be able to visit the North East as we hand the baton of Fleet Amphibious Flagship to HMS Albion in 2017 before the ship enters reserve and subsequently refit.”Devonport