Shortly after returning to Australia from her seventh deployment to the Middle East, more than 200 officers and sailors of HMAS Darwin today (7 July 2016) exercised the ship’s right to Freedom of Entry to the City of Darwin.
CAPTION: The crew of HMAS Darwin march through the main street of Darwin while exercising their right to Freedom of Entry. Photo by Able Seaman Sarah Ebsworth
The tradition of Freedom of Entry 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.
Nowadays the right of Freedom of Entry is a symbolic mark of honour and support from a city to a military unit.
HMAS Darwin has an embarked crew of 229 officers and sailors and the Commanding Officer is Commander Phillip Henry.
Today’s Freedom of Entry coincides with the ship’s 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.
The ship’s company marched down Knuckey Street where they were challenged by the Lord Mayor of Darwin 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 whom we represent.
“It was very encouraging to see the community line the streets in large numbers to show their support.”
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.
HMAS Darwin is returning to Australia after a six-and-a-half-month deployment 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 ship intercepted a large cache of illegally smuggled small-arms weaponry and disrupted a number of narcotic smuggling operations.
Also, in the last days of her deployment, a sailor was found dead during shore leave in Muscat, Oman.
HMAS Darwin is one of the Royal Australian Navy’s three Adelaide-class guided missile frigates. The ship is a long-range escort capable of area air defence, surface and undersea warfare, surveillance, reconnaissance and interdiction. The ship can counter simultaneous threats from aircraft, surface vessels and submarines.
HMAS Darwin was originally granted Freedom of Entry on 25 October 1985.
The ship’s pennant number is 04 and her motto is ‘RESURGENT’..