HMS Ocean is to make a last trip to Wearside before the helicopter carrier and amphibious assault ship leaves service.
The Royal Navy’s Fleet Flagship will be alongside the Port of Sunderland from Thursday, July 6, to Tuesday, July 11, to pay tribute to its affiliated city.
HMS Ocean is set to be replaced by the brand new aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth - which sailed for the first time today to begin sea trials.
A packed programme has been prepared for the visit, which will give people the chance to show their appreciation to the ship before it leaves naval service in the spring of next year after 20 years in service.
A range of events aimed at putting both HMS Ocean and her company on show will include an evening reception and capability demonstration held on board for selected guests on the Friday, as well as a dedicated open day on the Sunday from 11am to 6pm.
Visitors wishing to see HMS Ocean and meet the ship’s crew are advised to utilise city parking and use the Low Street pedestrian entrance to the port.
The centre piece of the weekend will take place on the Saturday when more than 240 officers and ratings from the Ship’s Company will exercise HMS Ocean’s freedom of the city by marching through the streets accompanied by the Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines.
Stepping off at 11am from Burdon Road and passing the Mowbray Park Monument, the parade will culminate in a Mayoral civic reception.
A Science Technology Engineering and Maths event will be held on board on the Monday for secondary school pupils with the aim of giving them an insight into engineering and the application of science in a maritime environment.
Sports will also feature heavily as part of the visit with both rugby and football fixtures arranged with city teams.
Commanding Officer, Captain Robert Pedre, said: “It is indeed a great honour to bring HMS Ocean to Sunderland.
"The ship has maintained a long and close affiliation with the city of which we are justly proud; my Ship’s Company is very much looking forward to the visit and I hope as many local
residents as possible are able to come to the docks and visit the ship.
“This visit demonstrates the strength of HMS Ocean’s affiliation with the City of Sunderland, a visit to which the Ship’s Company is looking forward and an affiliation of which they are extremely proud.”
Mayor of Sunderland, Councillor Doris MacKnight said: “We are delighted to be welcoming HMS Ocean and her crew back to Sunderland, for the final time.
"The freedom parades are always a spectacular sight and I know people will once again be looking forward to seeing officers and crew parade through the city centre.
"By exercising the Freedom of the City, there's an opportunity for everybody to show their appreciation, show how proud Sunderland is of its links with the Royal Navy and say goodbye.”
Just prior to arrival, the ship will have completed a major maintenance period and a large scale command and control joint exercise; all this following a successful six-month operation in the Mediterranean and the Gulf where HMS Ocean was deployed as part of the Joint Expeditionary Force (Maritime) 16 and as the command platform for the first British commander of the US Combined Task Force 50.
HMS Ocean will deploy later this year as the Flagship for the Standing NATO Maritime Group 2; a significant and long-standing NATO commitment contributing to the security of the Mediterranean region.