SAILORS on board Sunderland’s adopted warship have become an internet sensation.
The crew of HMS Ocean decided to make a video in celebration of the news that the vessel, which was supposed to be at sea for seven weeks, will now be home in time for the festive period.
Each of the 400 naval personnel – who have the freedom of the city – sings a line from smash hit song All I Want For Christmas Is You, by Mariah Carey.
The video has already gathered more than 25,000 hits on YouTube.
It ends with the sailors spelling out their message for Christmas by lying on the ship’s flight deck to say “Merry Xmas From HMS Ocean”.
The video was inspired by Lieutenant Kelly Cleave who said the crew wanted to pick a Christmas-themed song to celebrate the homecoming news.
Lt Cleave said: “Most of those that saw it were complaining that they had the song stuck in their heads for days afterwards.
“Although I co-ordinated the production and produced the video, the guys and girls all individually picked the lines they wanted and came up with their own ideas, and costumes, for how to do each bit, so it was very much a group effort.”
Since HMS Ocean left the UK 225 days ago, she has spent 176 days at sea and travelled more than 40,000 miles, burning about 6,000 tonnes of fuel.
The assault ship and helicopter carrier, based in Devonport, Plymouth, but affiliated to the City of Sunderland, set sail in April to perform an exercise in the Mediterranean.
However, the ship had to be diverted once Nato became involved in operations in Libya, after the fall of Colonel Gaddafi.
HMS Ocean helped Apache helicopters of the Army Air Corps, which carried out air strikes.
Commanding officer Captain Andrew Betton said: “I have been hugely impressed by the fortitude and professional attitude of Ocean’s Ship’s Company.
“Despite the frequent changes in our programme and the uncertainty of when our mission would end, everyone has got stuck in to do what the Royal Navy does best with good humour, energy and professionalism.
HMS Ocean is due back in the UK on Friday.
Cpt Betton said: “After uncertainty in our programme we are all delighted to be back home for Christmas, and are really looking forward to seeing our loved ones again.
“Our families and friends have been a huge support during this deployment, and it will be wonderful to be home with them for this most special of family occasions, particularly for those of us with small children.”