A quarter of a century after her maiden call, HMAS Newcastle will arrive next Wednesday 12 June and set sail for the very last time on Tuesday 18 June, with Newcastle born-and-raised Naval Officer Anita Sellick in command.
Commander Sellick joined the Royal Australian Navy in January 1994 after graduating from the Australian Defence Force Academy. She assumed command of HMAS Newcastle early last year, completing the INDO-PACIFIC ENDEAVOUR 2019, and will have the honour of decommissioning the ship later this month.
Both Commander Sellick and the ship’s arrival and departure will be marked by a seven-gun salute from the historic guns at Fort Scratchley followed by return volley from the ship.
To celebrate our association, the ship will exercise its Right of Freedom of Entry to the city of Newcastle at a ceremony and march through the streets on Saturday 15 June. The Right of Freedom of Entry was granted to the ship in 1995 and is the highest honour that a city can bestow on a ship or military unit.
“The association with HMAS Newcastle has been a long and significant one for our city,” Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said.
Below: Naval Officer Anita Sellick
“She was officially commissioned here in 1993 and her Launching Lady was Mrs Margaret McNaughton AM, the Lady Mayoress of Newcastle and wife of then-Lord Mayor John McNaughton.
“We’re proud of our history with HMAS Newcastle and proud to host an event to give her a fitting send off.”
Everyone is invited to view the march, which will form up in Laman Street from 9.40am before heading off around Civic Park to City Hall. The Royal Australian Navy band will be attending to provide a fitting escort to the ship’s company. Newcastle was the first major Australian fleet vessel to bear the name of a non-capital city.
The ship also maintains close links with us through active support of her adopted charity organisation, Newcastle Senior School, formerly known as the Hunter Orthopaedic School.
“HMAS Newcastle and her amazing crew have worked tirelessly throughout their association to support the school community with both financial contributions and experiences,” Newcastle Senior School’s relieving Principal Deone Bennett said.
“The ship’s company have raised substantial funds, providing the school with a bus, undertaking working bees and joining in sporting activities. And for this we sincerely thank member of the ship’s company past and present.”
Their final fundraising campaign, ‘The Great Race’, aims to raise $20,000 and is still live at gofundme.com/thegreatrace
HMAS Newcastle is one of four Adelaide Class Guided Missile Frigates (FFG) in service with the Royal Australian Navy. In recent years she has been deployed in support of peacekeeping operations in East Timor, the Solomon Islands and Operation CATALYST in the Persian Gulf.
After more than 25 years of service, she will finally be decommissioned at the Garden Island Naval base in Sydney.
Schedule of events
Wednesday 12 June – HMAS Newcastle arrives*
Saturday 15 June – Freedom of Entry March. All welcome.
March commences at 10am. The best vantage points to see the action will be Civic Park.
Tuesday 18 June – HMAS Newcastle departs*
*A seven-gun salute to fire from Fort Scratchley on arrival and departure.