Sunderland’s adopted warship sailors to march through city

HMS Ocean Freedom Parade 2004

HMS Ocean Freedom Parade 2004

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MORE than 200 officers and ratings from Sunderland’s adopted warship are to march through the city.

The freedom parade on Saturday, May 26, is part of a four-day visit by HMS Ocean.

The Royal Navy’s largest warship and her crew were granted the Freedom of the City in 2004.

Sunderland City Council leader Paul Watson said he expected the event to be a huge success, as was Ocean’s last visit to Wearside in 2009.

“I know a lot of people will be looking forward to seeing officers and crew parade through city centre,” he said.

“By exercising its 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.”

HMS Ocean arrives in Sunderland after part in Exercise Olympic Guardian, which tested security arrangements at the up-and-coming Games in London.

Captain Andrew Betton, Commanding Officer, said: “After a busy and testing time in London training for our role in supporting the police security plan for the Olympic Games, I’m really looking forward to bringing HMS Ocean to her affiliated city of Sunderland.

“Everybody onboard is excited about it, particularly as we were unable to visit last year because of our operational deployment to Libya and the Gulf of Oman.

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

Led by The Band of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, the parade starts at the Civic Centre, in Burdon Road, at 3.30pm.

It will follow a route through Burdon Road, Fawcett Street, High Street West, Union Street, Market Square, Waterloo Place, Holmeside, before returning to Burdon Road.

A service is expected to take place at the war memorial at 4.10pm.

Times are approximate and those attending are advised to arrive early.

Also on May 27, between 10am and 4pm, HMS Ocean will be open to the public at Corporation Quay.

Access for pedestrians will be through the Low Street entrance.

City centre and on-street parking will be available.

HMS Ocean is due to dock at the quay on Thursday at 6am.

Twitter: @SunderlandEcho