HMAS Cairns Freedom of Entry

Department of Defence

The officers and sailors of Royal Australian Navy operational support base HMAS Cairns have conducted a Freedom of Entry march through their namesake city.

Commanding Officer HMAS Cairns, Commander Alfonso Santos, said the event was a reminder of the strong connection Navy personnel have with Queensland’s far north community.

“Navy has been supported by the community in Cairns since World War II, when Cairns was the final port of call for many ships heading to the Pacific – this strong support continues today,” Commander Santos said.

“The Freedom of Entry march is an opportunity for Navy to express our appreciation and to say how proud we are to call the city our home.”

Approximately 140 members of Ship’s company marched through the City in a time honoured tradition, which included a circuit on the Esplanade, Shields, Abbot and Florence Streets where the military contingent were challenged and subsequently granted Freedom of Entry.

The granting of the right to Freedom of Entry is the highest accolade a town can award a military unit and dates back to medieval times when trusted military units were granted access to towns to replenish food and arms.

Cairns Mayor, Councillor Bob Manning OAM said the event was a great opportunity for members of the community get up close and personal with their service personnel.

“We welcome the sailors and officers of HMAS Cairns, and express our appreciation for their service to the nation,” Councillor Manning said.

“Our shared history is something we look forward to building on well into the future.”

HMAS Cairns has a workforce of approximately 1,000 Defence and civilian personnel with the primary responsibility to provide maintenance, logistic and administrative support for Cairns-based Fleet units, including seven commissioned warships.

HMAS Cairns also provides refit and training support for neighbouring Pacific Island Nations Patrol Boats.

The naval base was originally established as a patrol boat facility in Cairns in 1971, before being commissioned as HMAS Cairns in 1974. The base took up its location on the Northern shore of Trinity Inlet in 1982.

Media Note

Media can access imagery of the Freedom of Entry march at

/Public Release. View in full here.