With swords drawn, bayonets fixed, flags flying and drums beating, the Ship’s Company of HMAS Brisbane were granted Freedom of Entry into her namesake city on Saturday.
More than 150 officers and sailors from the warship marched with pride and enthusiasm through King George Square where they were presented with the official scroll by the Lord Mayor at the front of City Hall.
Lord Mayor of Brisbane, The Right Honourable Councillor Graham Quirk said “To those on parade today, I say congratulations and thank you — you make our country and all of us here in Brisbane very proud.
“To those of us in Brisbane, you will always be the pride of the fleet.”
Principal Warfare Officer Lieutenant Tim Russell-Cook is serving in HMAS Brisbane as the Gunnery Officer, a position that traditionally holds the role of Guard Commander during a Freedom of Entry march.
“This is the first time in my career that I have had the opportunity to be a Guard Commander,” Lieutenant Russell-Cook said.
“My role for the march is primarily ceremonial, but historically it would have been to defend the Australian White Ensign.
“It is an honour to represent HMAS Brisbane (III) on this remarkable day,” he said.
Petty Officer Combat Systems Supervisor Neale Merrick also conducted ceremonial duties for the first time during the Freedom of Entry march, being responsible for carrying the Australian White Ensign.
“Being an ensign bearer is one of the greatest privileges for anyone serving in the Royal Australian Navy,” Petty Officer Merrick said.
“The march was a little nerve racking with so many eyes on us, but we stayed in step and turned with precision.
“I’m proud to be serving, and very pleased that the city of Brisbane enjoyed the march as much as we did,” he said.
The granting of freedom of entry is the highest accolade a city can bestow upon a military unit. The tradition originates in medieval times, when a city would show its trust in a group of men-at-arms by allowing them to enter their walls without being disarmed.
In modern times, Freedom of Entry is a demonstration of core military ceremonial skills; marching, carrying weapons, precise drill and coordinated movement of personnel.
The parade was led by the Queensland Maritime Museum, and HMAS Brisbane’s newest mascot, Leading Seaman Hank the Bulldog.
Commissioned into service on 27 October 2018, HMAS Brisbane is Australia’s newest warship. Second of her class and third of her name, HMAS Brisbane’s primary role is to provide advanced air defence for accompanying ships.
Additional imagery is available on the Navy Image Gallery: http://images.navy.gov.au/S20190789.