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Last Updated: Sunday, 12 December, 2004, 10:18 GMT
Royal Navy supports North events
HMS Ocean at the Sunderland International Airshow
HMS Ocean provides a dramatic backdrop to the airshow
The Royal Navy has announced plans for a huge presence in the North East in 2005 after agreeing to support two of the region's biggest events.

The largest free airshow in Europe, the Sunderland International Airshow, and the Tall Ships' Race 2005, both take place within days of each other.

The Royal Navy has confirmed it will provide warship support at both events.

The announcement follows two highly successful Royal Navy visits to Sunderland in recent years.

John Salisbury-Baker, spokesman at the Royal Navy said: "We have established a tradition of coming to Sunderland for the Sunderland International Airshow over the last couple of years.

"We always receive a very warm welcome from the people of the North East and with the region playing host to two of the biggest events in Europe in July next year we will help make 2005, the 200th anniversary of Trafalgar, a real festival of the sea for the region."

'Brilliant opportunity'

In both 2003 and 2004 HMS Ocean, Sunderland's adopted warship, provided a dramatic backdrop to the city's airshow.

Sunderland's close relationship with the Royal Navy's largest ship was formally sealed earlier this year when the city council adopted the vessel and conferred the honorary freedom of the city on its officers and ratings.

Bob Symonds, leader of the council said: "This is a brilliant opportunity for the whole region to work together to raise its national profile.

"One million people come to the Sunderland airshow each year. Next year the same number of people are expected to visit the Tall Ships' Race in the same week.

"This together with the support of the Royal Navy provides a fantastic opportunity to further boost the profile of the North East."

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