Around 30 officers and sailors from HMAS Maitland will be in The Levee, Central Maitland from 10.00am on Saturday 21 October to exercise their right to Freedom of Entry to the City. It comes after HMAS Maitland first gained the Freedom of Entry to Maitland in 2006.
The concept for Freedom of Entry to the City goes back to medieval times when there were disputes between land owning nobles and armed bodies were therefore rarely admitted into cities. However, in special cases, they were given freedom of entry and it signified true friendship and often the expectation that the armed body would assist in the defence of the city.
HMAS Maitland, her 12 sister Armidale Class Patrol Boats and two Cape Class Patrol Boats are the Navy's principal contribution to the nation's fisheries protection, immigration, customs and drug law enforcement operations. The ship has a range of 3,000 nautical miles at 12 knots and a maximum speed of about 25 knots.
Maitland Mayor, Cr Loretta Baker says, ‘I believe these events and traditions are important for a range of different reasons. Allowing an armed Service or individual Unit to exercise their right to Freedom of Entry is a huge honour and it’s one way we can show how grateful we are to HMAS Maitland for its service to our country.’
As part of the event, members from HMAS Maitland will form up in The Levee Shared Zone at around 10.00am and will be challenged by The Local Commanding Officer of Police on the corner of Bourke Street and High Street. A street march, under police escort, will then take place along High Street, Maitland from The Levee near Bulwer Street to the Maitland Town Hall. A Civic Reception at the Maitland Regional Art Gallery will follow for invitees.
Commanding Officer, HMAS Maitland, Lieutenant Johnathon Little says, ‘The crew in HMAS Maitland are very proud of their connection to Maitland. Due to the vast distances and our area of operations, predominately in northern Australian waters, it is a rare occasion but indeed a real honour to visit the city this weekend and exercise our Freedom of Entry.’
Road closures will be in place at The Levee, between Bourke Street and Elgin Street, Preschool Lane and Drill Hall Lane between the hours of 8.00am and 11.00am. There will be rolling road closures in place from Ken Tubman Drive through to Devonshire Street inclusive of side streets between the hours of 9.30am and 11.00am.