Hundreds of Darwin residents turned out to welcome the Royal Australian Navy and the Royal Thai Navy as they exercised their right of Freedom of Entry to the city yesterday.
More than 150 personnel of the Royal Australian Navy and 50 of the Royal Thai Navy marched through the Darwin Central Business District to the beat of the RAN Band from Sydney. They were accompanied by a small contingent from the Australian Navy Cadets.
The parade was reviewed by the Commander Border Protection Command, Rear Admiral David Johnston, AM, RAN, Lord Mayor of the City of Darwin, Ms Katrina Fong Lim and, Administrator of the Northern Territory, Sally Thomas AM, Minister for Defence Industries and Community Support, David Tollner MLA and the Commander of the Royal Thai Navy Graduate Officers Training Unit, Rear Admiral Jumpal Lumpiganon.
The Commanding Officer of HMAS Coonawarra and the Senior Naval Officer in Northern Australia, Commander Ben Favelle, said it was a proud day for the Navies of Australia and Thailand. He said he was overwhelmed to see so many people in the streets to welcome the Navy.
“The warmth coming from spectators as we marched through the streets, shows in what high esteem Navy is held in by the Darwin community,” Commander Favelle said.
“And, to be joined by our friends from the HTMS Krabi on such an occasion, was an opportunity to bring an element of the recent International Fleet Review to the residents of Darwin.”
Commander Favelle says the Royal Australian Navy has a long and distinguished association with Darwin.
“Each year, Darwin plays host to approximately 100 visiting Australian and foreign major warships. These ships visit the region to take part in major Australian and multi-national exercises and operations. Coonawarra is the major Navy base in Darwin and is the homeport of most of the Navy's Fleet of Armidale Class Patrol Boats, which primarily conduct border protection operations," he said.