Stan Smith and Mick McManus on board HMS Ocean in Sunderland, 25.5.12.

Today me and Stan Smith had a memorable day visiting HMS Ocean berthed in Corporation Quay Sunderland. She’s Sunderland’s adopted ship and will be in Sunderland for four days, having arrived yesterday. We only discovered she was in Sunderland yesterday so Stan, our local Rep., didn’t have time to arrange anything officially. We decided to go on spec this morning and try and get a look around. We made certain we looked smart. We got there about 10am. The first contact was a private security guard who, after hearing who we were, sent us through the barrier to a Lt. Commander who turned out to be working in the Sunderland recruiting office. He was very welcoming and after hearing our story took us even closer to the gangway and introduced us to some officers off the ship. They were also very welcoming and took us up the gangway and the Officer of the Watch contacted someone from the branch and we were met by PO (AH) Taff Beal who took us on deck and stayed with us until we left four hours later. We met the flight deck crew including the CFD Steve Christie and, by chance, as he crossed the deck and was introduced to us, the Captain Andrew Betton.  I think Taff must have shown us every square inch of the ship. It was a grand surprise when we were invited on board and made to feel so welcome by everyone, especially when you think that two old blokes from the past just turned up without an invite . But I think we really knew deep down that they wouldn’t turn us away, and our instincts turned out to be spot on. I’ve put the photos on Facebook and on Fickr at

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2 Responses to Stan Smith and Mick McManus on board HMS Ocean in Sunderland, 25.5.12.

  1. Ray, the nicest thing was how the handlers on watch lined up on the deck so that we could go down the line shaking hands with everyone. That makes you feel special. God help us if there had been alcohol available – getting up and down ladders was hard enough as it was.

  2. Ray Wrigglesworth says:

    Well done Stan and Michael, its is not very often that you can blag your way onto one of
    H.M.Ships without any warning but there againg you are Aircraft Handlers. Im glad that you had a great day, its a good job TOT was not still on the go.
    Well Done

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