HMS Ocean arrives in Sunderland for special visit
Fri, 25 May 2012
The Royal Navy's largest warship has arrived at the Port of Sunderland for a special four-day visit to the city.
HMS Ocean entered the mouth of the River Wear at about 06:00 BST. It is the seventh time the vessel has visited its adopted city.
The warship and its crew were granted the Freedom of the City in 2004.
On Saturday more than 200 officers and crew will mark the honour with a parade through to the city centre from Burdon Road.
Meticulous planning ensured the assault ship berthed alongside the port's deepwater quay without a hitch.
HMS Ocean's commanding officer, Captain Andrew Betton said: "There is a really strong and warm link between the city of Sunderland and HMS Ocean, dating back to 1995 when the ship was under construction."
A member of the crew said the freedom of the city was a "big thing" for them, as they can be respected by the people of Sunderland when they visit.
The parade will begin at 15:00 BST on Saturday after a service at the War Memorial.
The 208m (680ft) ship is open to the public on Sunday between 10:00 and 16:00 BST.