THOUSANDS of people lined Newport city centre streets to watch a parade celebrating and commemorating the life of the HMS Severn.

The HMS Severn was Newport’s affiliated naval vessel and visited the city for the last time this week prior to being decommissioned at the end of the month.

The ship itself was berthed at Alexandra Docks while navy members and a band of the Royal Marines exercised the Ship's Freedom of the City by parading.

Flags were flown, drums were beaten and bayonets were fixed as naval officers and staff brought smiles to the public as they paraded through Cambrian Road and the High Street before coming to a halt at the D-Day Memorial.

This was the final time the HMS Severn will come to Newport as part of the Royal Navy.

A spokesman for HMS Severn said: "Severn has visited Newport 15 times over her 14 year naval service, but this is only the second time that she has exercised the freedom to march through the city.

"It is a great occasion which very sadly will be her last. Severn will retire from the Royal Naval Service in just under two weeks time however it is not all bad news. She will be replaced with a class of five larger navy patrolled vessels.

"To maintain the link with the Royal Navy and Newport it gives me great pleasure to announce that in keeping with tradition, Severn's bell will be loaned to Newport to go on display in the council buildings."

Newport County Council leader Debbie Wilcox added: "The freedom of the city of Newport was confirmed to HMS Severn in 2003. The council is extremely proud of its close association with the Royal Navy and the captain and crew of HMS Severn.

"I am delighted and honoured to be able to formally present the scroll celebrating the strong ties and association of HMS Severn since we were formally affiliated in 2003."

The ship was first presented with the honorary freedom for the city of Newport in 2006 - when the captain and staff held their first march.