The crew of Armidale-class patrol boat HMAS Ararat conducted the final freedom of entry parade in the western Victorian town of Ararat on May 7, with the ship to be decommissioned in June.
CAPTION: Personnel from HMAS Ararat march through Ararat in Victoria. Story by Lieutenant Gary McHugh. Photo by Ararat Advocate.
The freedom of entry parade dates back to medieval times when trusted military units were granted permission to enter walled towns to replenish victuals and arms.
Commanding Officer of HMAS Ararat, Lieutenant Commander David Martinussen, said it was a great honour to lead his ship’s company through the streets of Ararat.
“On behalf of my entire ship’s company, I’d like to thank the Ararat Rural City Council for making us feel so welcome and for awarding us Freedom of Entry,” Lieutenant Commander Martinussen said.
“Freedom of entry is the highest honour a town or city can award a military unit and we are privileged to have received this mark of trust and respect from the people of Ararat.
“The crew is pleased to have had the opportunity to reconnect with and say a proper farewell before we decommission later this year.”
HMAS Ararat is one of Navy’s 11 remaining Armidale-class patrol boats in service.
The Armidales, along with two Cape-class vessels, are the Australian Defence Force’s principal contribution to the nation’s fisheries protection, immigration, customs and drug law-enforcement operations.
Ararat is the second ship named after the Victorian town, with the first being a World War II corvette that saw action in various theatres including the Pacific and Papua New Guinea.
Ararat, which came into service in 2006, will be decommissioned in June as Navy transitions from the Armidale-class patrol boat to the Arafura-class offshore patrol vessels.
Lieutenant Commander David Martinussen said the freedom of entry parade was a fitting way to reinforce Navy’s relationship with Ararat.
“Like all of Navy’s patrol boats, Ararat has made a significant contribution to the security and defence of Australia’s sea lanes, and I’m sure that all the ship’s company, both past and present, are genuinely proud of Ararat’s service,” he said.