Sunderland's adopted warship HMS Ocean dispatched on Caribbean aid mission after Hurricane Irma

HMS Ocean, pictured by Josh Graham
HMS Ocean, pictured by Josh Graham
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Sunderland's adopted warship HMS Ocean has been dispatched to the Caribbean to help the aid effort after the devastating Hurricane Irma hit British territories.

Supplies of aid have been loaded on to HMS Ocean, which has been diverted from the Mediterranean to head for the Caribbean.

Anguilla, Montserrat and the British Virgin Islands (BVI) and Turks and Caicos are among islands to have been left in grave need after the hurricane hit.

HMS Ocean will take two weeks to reach the islands. Royal Fleet Auxiliary Mounts Bay is carrying out aid operations until further support arrives.

HMS Ocean, whose officers and ratings have the freedom of the city of Sunderland, visited the Wear for the last time in July .

The helicopter carrier and amphibious assault ship is being retired from service to make way for the new aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth.

The announcement was made in November 2015, with the ship due to retire in 2018 when the Ministry of Defence said HMS Ocean, once billed as "the flagship of the Royal Navy" is to be decommissioned - despite undergoing a £65million pound refit in 2014.

The MoD said the ship would have "reached the end of her life" by 2018.

It said there would be new Type 26 warships and frigates; two Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers; as well as the existing fleet which includes HMS Bulwark.