June 17, 2019 – HMAS Newcastle has sailed into her namesake city for the final time after 25 years of faithful service, steaming more than 900,000 miles and gaining battle honors in East Timor, the Solomon Islands and the Persian Gulf.
Newcastle’s arrival also marks the completion of the final overseas deployment by an Adelaide class guided missile frigate, which have formed the backbone of Navy operations for almost 40 years.
Newcastle was the last of the Adelaide Class frigates commissioned into the Royal Australian Navy and was the last of her type to be built in Australia.
For Newcastle’s Commanding Officer, Commander Anita Sellick, sailing into Newcastle was both a proud and a reflective moment.
“As a Novocastrian myself, it is a great experience to be here but also a little sad knowing it is the last time the ship will visit,” Commander Sellick said.
“For me it is a once in a lifetime opportunity and it is hard to put into words just how special that is.
“This is similar for the entire crew and in particular the 21 other Novocastrians in the ship’s company.”
Following her arrival, Newcastle hosted an official reception, the highlight being a charity auction to raise the final funds for the ship’s charity, the Newcastle Senior School. Recent fund raising efforts conducted by crew, including The Great Race and the charity auction have raised almost $20,000.
The City of Newcastle’s Lord Mayor, Councillor Nuatali Nelmes, said at the reception she was very honoured to represent the City and be involved in Newcastle’s final visit, highlighting how impressed she was with the fund raising efforts of the ship and how supportive the ship has been to the local charity’s over the last 25 years.
“I am so proud of the long and enduring friendship HMAS Newcastle has had with Newcastle and the Hunter region,” the Lord Mayor said.
“The ship has had a positive impact on city and will always be remembered.”
Newcastle’s final visit will also provide an opportunity to host visits and tours for local groups, attend a final community engagement with the Newcastle Senior School, and conduct a Freedom of Entry through the City’s town centre.
After departing Newcastle for the final time, Newcastle will return to Fleet Base East in Sydney and prepare for de-commissioning in late June.
Freedom of Entry
With pride and enthusiasm, 180 officers and sailors from HMAS Newcastle exercised Freedom of Entry into the City of Newcastle for the final time.
The time honored tradition was held in celebration of Newcastle’s last visit to her namesake city prior to decommissioning in late June 2019.
Newcastle’s Lord Mayor, Councillor Nuatali Nelmes, said the Freedom of Entry is conferred in recognition of the friendship and diligent service the Royal Australian Navy has extended to the City of Newcastle and the Hunter region.
“HMAS Newcastle has had a long and enduring friendship with the people of Newcastle for more than a quarter of a century,” Councillor Nelmes said.
“The event has been a great opportunity for the community to show their support for a final time to HMAS Newcastle, the crew and those men and women who have served on the ship over the last 25 years.”
Newcastle’s Commanding Officer, Commander Anita Sellick, said the ship’s company were proud of their connection to Newcastle and the Hunter.
“As a fellow Novocastrian I am proud of our close links with the region,” Commander Sellick said.
“We are honored to have the support of the local community, both here in Newcastle and the Hunter Valley.
“Today’s event is bittersweet considering it is the last Freedom of Entry.”
Since commissioning in 1993, Newcastle has deployed in support of peacekeeping operations in East Timor and the Solomon Islands and Operation CATALYST in the Persian Gulf.
“Newcastle has been very active in the local community, regularly supporting charity events including fund raising events, build days and community engagement.
“For more than 25 years, the ship has had many visits to the City of Newcastle, conducting Freedom of Entry marches, official receptions, community events and supporting the Hunter Senior School,” Commander Sellick said.
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 honor and support from a city to a military unit.