Sunderland’s adopted warship HMS Ocean sails in at dawn + VIDEO

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AS the sun rises on Sunderland, HMS Ocean majestically makes her way into the Wear.

This spectacular early morning picture shows the Royal Navy’s largest vessel arriving in the city today.

H.M.S. Ocean arriving at Sunderland this morning

H.M.S. Ocean arriving at Sunderland this morning

Echo photographer Kevin Brady captured the ship’s arrival at Corporation Quay just before 6am.

Ocean’s four-day stay is the seventh time she has visited the city.

Meticulous planning ensured the amphibious assault ship berthed alongside the port’s deepwater quay without a hitch.

Two Class-1 pilots were assigned to guide the vessel into port, while four Svitzer tugs helped her into harbour.

A squad from Sunderland Foyboatmen’s Association then made her fast to quayside bollards.

Captain Kevin Ullah, harbourmaster, said: “The safe navigation of HMS Ocean within the port is of paramount importance and entails a huge team effort involving port personnel and supporting marine services.”

He added: “Nothing was left to chance.

“A great deal of pre-planning goes into an operation such as this, and we have been liaising with the Royal Navy at every step of the way.”

Besides ensuring HMS Ocean’s smooth arrival, the port will also provide a range of other services, including craneage, waste disposal and additional security.

Captain Andrew Betton, HMS Ocean’s commanding officer, said: ”HMS Ocean is the Royal Navy’s largest warship and so there is always a challenge manoeuvring the ship in tight navigational waters.

“We are well versed in this and have recently transited the Thames Barrier, which was a tight squeeze.

“With the planning and liaison that we have undertaken with the Port of Sunderland authorities, I was confident that everything was in place ready for us to enter the harbour safely.”

Last year’s dredging campaign, part of a contract with UK Dredging, has guaranteed ample clearance beneath HMS Ocean’s keel.

The port’s commercial partners and customers have also helped free up space to make room for the warship and her shoreside operations.

On Saturday, more than 200 officers and crew will mark their Freedom of the City with a parade through to the city centre from Burdon Road.

It will set off at 3pm and, after a service at the war memorial, will follow a route to the city centre at about 4pm.

HMS Ocean will also be open to the public between 10am and 4pm on Sunday.

•If you took pictures of HMS Ocean arriving in Sunderland, email them to echo.news@northeast-press.co.uk.