Around 250 men and women of the Royal Australian Navy Submarine Force marched proudly through the streets of Fremantle on 7 November as part of the celebrations to mark the centenary of Australian Submarines.
In a tradition that dates back to ancient Rome, Fremantle City Council bestowed Freedom of Entry rights to the port city which lies at the mouth of the Swan River in Perth, Western Australia.
During the medieval era, the granting of Freedom of Entry was considered the highest honour a city could bestow on a military formation at a time when armed garrisons were rarely admitted within the city's walls. It recognised the confidence, trust and friendship that existed between the citizens and military personnel.
The tradition continues today underscoring the strong bond that exists between the submariners and the City of Fremantle and its community.
Celebrations began with a parade inspection and a 'welcome to country' ceremony. Then the Mayor of Fremantle, Dr Brad Pettitt, presented Commander Submarine Force, Captain Matt Buckley, with a scroll annotating the rite of Freedom of Entry and permission to march down William Street. At the intersection with Queens Street the parade, led by Captain Buckley followed by the scroll bearer Chief Petty Officer Electronic Warfare Submariner Nathan Moore, the Australian White Ensign party and Navy Band, was forced to halt with the ceremonial challenge by the local police superintendant. Chief Petty Officer Moore displayed the scroll to the superintendant who acknowledged the rite and allowed the parade to continue, to the cheers of the locals who had lined the route.
Captain Buckley said the march cemented the relationship between the people of Fremantle and the Royal Australian Navy Submarine Force.
“The granting of Freedom of Entry by the City of Fremantle is an honour for all of us. The timing is particularly significant as it occurs during the centenary of Australian Submarines.
“Fremantle has a strong association with submarines. Not only is the city in close proximity to the home of our submarine fleet, many of us have close and personal bonds with the 'Freo' community," he said.
“Freo was also the second largest United States Navy submarine base in the southern hemisphere during the Second World War with 170 United States, British and Dutch submarines stationed here,” Captain Buckley said.
Mayor Pettitt described the occasion as unique and special for Fremantle and he considered it an honour to be part of the Freedom of Entry to the city.
The march ended with an invitation to a Mayoral Reception in the Fremantle Town Hall, a fitting beginning to a week of activities and events in Fremantle and surrounding districts to celebrate a century of service by the men and women of the Submarine Force.
Imagery is available on the Navy Image Library at http://images.navy.gov.au/S20143429.