Page last updated at 10:44 GMT, Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Ark Royal returns to the Tyne where she was launched

HMS Ark Royal
HMS Ark Royal will leave the Tyne on 28 February

The Royal Navy's flagship HMS Ark Royal is returning to the river where she was launched for a five-day visit.

The 20,000-tonne aircraft carrier was built on the Tyne 30 years ago at the Swan Hunter shipyard in Wallsend and launched by the Queen Mother.

The ship will arrive at the Northumbria Quay in North Shields later and open to the public on Saturday.

The warship, which has a full complement of 682 crew, last visited the Tyne in February 2009.

Steel for the 692ft long (211 metres) vessel was first cut at Swan Hunter's yard in December 1978 before her official launch three years later.

During their stay on Tyneside, members of the ship's crew - many of whom are from the North East - will visit both Sunderland and Newcastle's football grounds.

Capt John Clink OBE, said: "It is fantastic to be visiting Newcastle, the city of our birth, in our silver jubilee year.

"Coming back to the Tyne just over 30 years to the day since her shipbuilding began is a great honour and I know that our many North East crew members are excited to be coming home."

Aircraft carriers are the largest ships in the Royal Navy's fleet.

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