Royal Navy warship HMS Bulwark will arrive at the Port of Sunderland next week, it has been announced
The Plymouth-based amphibious assault ship is affiliated to the area and has many links with organisations.
“Bringing HMS Bulwark to the North East is like taking the ship home.”Captain James Parkin
The ship is due to arrive in Sunderland on Wednesday, July 20, and on Friday, July 22, at 10.30am the crew will exercise the Freedom of the City of Durham, with 300 sailors and marines, led by the Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines (Portsmouth), proudly marching through the city to Palace Green exercising the ship’s age-old right to march through the city.
The parade will end with a service in Durham Cathedral.
Chairman of Durham County Council Councillor 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 and we hope that visitors and local people alike will line the streets of the city centre for this colourful parade, which always draws the crowds.”
Early on Saturday, July 23, HMS Bulwark 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, July 24.
Captain of HMS Bulwark James Parkin 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. T
“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.”
HMS Bulwark Engineering Technician Daniel Brown, from Sunderland, said: “This is a very special port visit for me.
“I’m lucky enough to have the ship I’m serving come to my home in the North East is great and not something that most people experience.“
Deputy leader of Sunderland City Council and Armed Forces Champion for the city, Councillor Harry Trueman, said: “Our city has a close, strong relationship with our armed forces and I’m thrilled to welcome HMS Bulwark and her crew to the city.
“Moving out from the port she will play an active role in our airshow provide an fantastic extra dimension to an already packed weekend programme.”
HMS Bulwark will be accommodating programmed visits in the Port of Sunderland. Unfortunately, owing to operational restrictions in the Port the ship will be unable to open to the general public.
After the Sunderland International Air Show, HMS Bulwark will return to Plymouth for leave and, in the autumn, will lead the Royal Navy’s Joint Expeditionary Force exercise to the Mediterranean and beyond.
HMS Bulwark will return to the UK before Christmas and begin handing over duties as Fleet Amphibious Flagship to sister ship HMS Albion.