The crew of Armidale-class patrol boat HMAS Maitland conducted its final freedom of entry parade in Maitland, NSW, on April 2, with the ship to be decommissioned later this month.
Freedom of entry is a tradition that dates back to medieval times when trusted military units would be granted permission to enter walled towns to replenish victuals and arms.
Commanding Officer of Maitland, Lieutenant Commander Jeremy Evain, said it was a great honour to lead his ship’s company through the streets of Maitland.
“Freedom of entry is the highest accolade a town can award a military unit and we are privileged to have received this mark of trust and respect from the people of Maitland,” Lieutenant Commander Evain said.
“The ship was first granted this honour in 2006 and we have enjoyed a close relationship with the city ever since.
“As we come to the end of HMAS Maitland’s service, it is fitting, both for the ship and the Maitland community, that we re-establish the link with our namesake city.”
Able Seaman Grady Munks said being part of a decommissioning crew was a career highlight.
“This is a real privilege – to be part of a ship’s decommissioning crew is something I will remember for the rest of my career,” Able Seaman Munks said.
HMAS Maitland is the first Navy vessel to bear the name Maitland. The name was previously used, however, for a naval training establishment located near Newcastle during World War II.
Maitland is one of 12 Armidale-class patrol boats operated by the Navy.
This class of vessel is used as Navy’s principal contribution to law-enforcement operations in the areas of fisheries, immigration, customs and drugs.
Maitland is based at HMAS Coonawarra in Darwin, Northern Territory, and is due to be decommissioned on April 28.
The Armidale-class patrol boats will be replaced by Navy’s new Arafura-class offshore patrol vessels, which will become Defence’s primary constabulary surface surveillance and response platform.
More photographs can be viewed on the Defence image gallery.