The ship’s company of HMAS Newcastle was overwhelmed by a show of enthusiasm and public support during a recent visit to their namesake city.
In addition to the traditional Anzac Day dawn service and march, the officers and sailors took part in a range of community activities, not least of which was exercising Freedom of Entry, challenged by Newcastle Local Area Command, Superintendent John Gralton.
Commanding Officer Newcastle Commander Mark Sirois said the ship’s company were delighted and honoured by the warm welcome received from the community.
“HMAS Newcastle and the City of Newcastle have maintained a strong relationship since the ship was commissioned in the city in 1993,” he said.
“We’re very proud of our commitment and achievements in maritime security and we bear the name Newcastle with a great deal of pride.
“The visit was an opportunity to reconnect with the people of Newcastle and we were thrilled with the reception we were given,” Commander Sirois said.
The port visit commenced with a traditional seven-gun salute afforded to Newcastle from historic Fort Scratchley on entry in to Newcastle Harbour.
Newcastle returned the salute using her three-pound saluting guns.
The ceremonial salute came much to the delight of 162 family and friends who embarked for the journey from Sydney to experience a day at sea in a Royal Australian warship.
The ship’s company were involved in a number of events including the lighting of the Anzac Eternal Flame at Nobby’s Beach and the Anzac Day church service.
The following day, the ship’s company took Freedom of Entry into the city with the Lord Mayor, Councillor Nuatali Nelmes, accompanied by Commodore Training Commodore Justin Jones inspecting the guard.
The ship also gained another family member with the christening of six-month old, Lara Withers, daughter to Chief Petty Officer Electronics Technician Kurt Withers on the forecastle of Newcastle.
The ship’s Launching Lady, Mrs Margaret McNaughton, enjoyed the chance to be reacquainted with the ship over dinner with Commander Sirois in the wardroom.
The crew was up early on Anzac Day to join the local community forming up and marched to the service in the dark – a first for all.
Commander Sirois said the visit was twelve months in the making.
“But the opportunity to experience Anzac Day in Newcastle and represent the wider Australian Defence Force to such a special community was one that I’m sure we won’t soon forget,” he said.