Crowds cheer HMS Ocean crew parading in Sunderland for last time

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Scores of people turned out to cheer the crew of HMS Ocean as they paraded through Sunderland for the final time.

The city’s adopted ship came to port on Thursday for a final visit before being decommissioned.

HMS Ocean's Sunderland parade. Photo by North News.

HMS Ocean's Sunderland parade. Photo by North News.

The helicopter carrier, which is the Royal Navy’s flagship vessel, is to be replaced by £3.5billion supership HMS Queen Elizabeth.

In an emotional ceremony the Mayor of Sunderland, Coun Doris MacKnight, told the crew of HMS Ocean how proud the city is of them and the links it has to HMS Ocean.

And, captain of the vessel, Robert Pedre, thanked the people of Sunderland for their support.

He said: “My ship’s company and I are enormously proud of our links with Sunderland, a city’s whose maritime heritage is world renowned.

HMS Ocean crew parade through Sunderland. Photos by North News.

HMS Ocean crew parade through Sunderland. Photos by North News.

“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.

“It is widely recognised that the welcome to the Royal Navy in Sunderland is second to none and we are very proud of our close links which have gone from strength to strength over the last few decades.

“HMS Ocean is proud to serve as a floating ambassador to Sunderland wherever we sail.”

More than 200 officers and crew took part in the parade accompanied by the Band of her Majesty’s Royal Marines.

HMS Ocean parade in Sunderland. Photo by North News.

HMS Ocean parade in Sunderland. Photo by North News.

The ship and its crew were granted the Freedom of the Sunderland in 2005 giving them the honour of parading and bearing arms as they marched.

In her speech, Coun MacKnight said: “I am very proud to speak on behalf of all the residents of Sunderland to say how happy we are to see you here for this visit, and it is with sadness a final visit for HMS Ocean.

“Everyone in Sunderland has always been very proud of their links with the HMS Ocean and it will sadden many knowing that her sailings are drawing to a close.

“We have all had great pleasure in hosting you 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 and will always be a very proud one.

“This visit has again allowed us to show our appreciation, how proud Sunderland is of its links with the Royal Navy, and a chance to say goodbye.”

Coun MacKnight will be on board the ship for three days after it sets sail from the city on Tuesday and heads to Plymouth.