The crew of the Royal Australian Navy patrol boat HMAS Wollongong exercised their rights of Freedom of Entry in their namesake city on Sunday.
Twenty-five officers and sailors from the patrol boat, along with the Royal Australian Navy Band and a group of Australian Navy cadets marched through the main street of Wollongong, in New South Wales, as part of an age-old ceremony.
The granting of ‘Freedom of Entry’ is the highest accolade a town or city can bestow upon a group or individual.
It’s the first time the ship’s company has conducted such an activity; the last time Wollongong visited the city was for her commissioning in June 2007.
Wollongong Police Commander, Superintendent Stephen Hegarty upon issuing the challenge and inspecting the scroll, granted the crew permission to proceed with the blessing of the people of the City of Wollongong.
Commanding Officer, Wollongong, Lieutenant Commander Scott Wilson said the march was an opportunity to re-establish and strengthen the historical ties that the ship has with the City and its community.
“This is the third HMAS Wollongong, with the first being a Bathurst class corvette launched during the Second World War, in 1941,” he said.
“It’s important that we honour that history and reaffirm our friendship with the local community,” he said.
The ceremony 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.