Proudly bearing the name ‘Darwin’, more than 200 officers and sailors from the Royal Australian Navy have marched through the City of Darwin, exercising their Freedom of Entry.
The time honoured tradition coincides with the first port visit in Australia after a six month deployment to the Middle East.
Commanding Officer HMAS Darwin Commander Phillip Henry said the march was a great source of pride for the ship’s company.
“After six months away from family and friends, to say we have been anticipating this moment is an understatement,” Commander Henry said.
HMAS Darwin was deployed to the Middle-East as part of Operation MANITOU, the ADF’s contribution in support of international efforts to promote maritime security, stability and prosperity in the Middle East Region.
During this deployment, the seventh time HMAS Darwin has served in the Middle-East, the ship intercepted a large cache of illegally smuggled small arms weaponry and disrupted a number of narcotic smuggling operations.
The ship’s company marched down Knuckey Street, where they were challenged by the Lord Mayor of Darwin, The Right Honourable Ms Katrina Fong Lim, at the Darwin Town Hall with the Freedom of Entry heartily granted.
“We carry the name Darwin with a great deal of pride and respect,” Commander Henry said.
“Respect for the service personnel who have gone before us and pride in the great city and community for whom we represent.
“It was very encouraging to see the community line the streets in large numbers to show their support,” he said.
The tradition of Freedom of Entry dates back to the 11th century, when a city trained soldiers for defensive measures and city protection. Freedom of Entry was rigorously controlled by the city leaders as a measure of precaution rather than an act of grace.
In modern times the granting of Freedom of Entry bestows no legal right or privilege on the recipient body, but it is accepted that the conferment is the most honourable distinction the City can give.