Joining a scheduled Royal Naval delegation visit to the city was a surprise guest, Captain Robert Pedre RN from Sunderland's previous adopted warship HMS Ocean, who presented the Ship's Bell to be put on public display outside the Mayor's Parlour.

Captain Pedre was the surprise guest during a visit to the Mayor's Parlour by Commodore Phil Waterhouse from Naval Regional Command (Northern England & Isle of Man), on behalf of Sunderland's new affiliated warship HMS Anson.

They were welcomed by a civic party which included the Lord Lieutenant of Tyne and Wear, Mrs Sue Winfield OBE, Captain Stephen Healey from Trinity House and WO1 Terry Miller from the Royal Navy's Regional HQ.

Captain Robert Pedre brought with him the Ship's Bell from the helicopter carrier, which was de-commissioned from active service with the Royal Navy last year.

The magnificent brass ship's bell will be on display outside the Mayor's Parlour at Sunderland Civic Centre on permanent loan from the Royal Navy.  

After being officially presented to the outgoing Mayor of Sunderland, Councillor Lynda Scanlan, the ship's bell was blessed by the Mayor's Chaplain Associate, Corey Knowles, from the community church charity Hope Spring.

In his presentation speech Capt Robert Pedre said: "As HMS Ocean's last captain, it is a great honour and privilege to present the ship's bell to the people of Sunderland on behalf of thousands of sailors, marines, soldiers and aircrew who proudly served onboard the 'Mighty O' during her twenty years' service to our nation across the world.

"It is fitting that the largest operational warship in the Royal Navy was adopted by the great city of Sunderland, which was once known as the 'largest shipbuilding town in the world' with a rich maritime heritage.

"Throughout my time in command we were incredibly proud of our close relationship with Sunderland and cherished the stalwart support we received from the city and its people."

Captain Pedre added: "We will all treasure our memories of HMS Ocean as the city's adopted warship, and it is fitting that our Ship's Bell should come home to Sunderland as an enduring testament of those lasting links between us."                

Accepting the ship's bell from HMS Ocean on behalf of the people of the city, the outgoing Mayor of Sunderland, Councillor Lynda Scanlan said: "I was very proud to be here at one of the last civic events I will attend as Mayor, and be able to receive this unexpected civic memento to the city from the crew of HMS Ocean.      

"Our adopted warship represented this city and this country with honour across the globe, and the Freedom of the City was conferred as a mark of our lasting gratitude and respect.