HMAS Newcastle Commander Anita Sellick has been been awarded a Key to the City, with Newcastle lord mayor Nuatali Nelmes praising the Merewether-bred commanding officer's rise through the ranks of a traditionally male-dominated institution.
"It's an honour to present the Key to the City to Commander Sellick in recognition of her services to Newcastle and the Royal Australian Navy," Ms Nelmes said during a ceremony at Civic Park on Saturday.
"Commander Sellick assumed command of HMAS Newcastle in January last year and will embark on her final voyage in control of the ship when she sails out of the heads for the final time on Tuesday. We're proud of our history with the vessel and we're even prouder that Commander Sellick is at the helm."
With a seven-gun salute from Fort Scratchley and crowds lining the foreshore, the HMAS Newcastle sailed into its namesake city for the final time on Wednesday morning. As it arrived, Commander Sellick said the reception for the Newcastle in Newcastle was "unlike any I've every known before".
- Related content: HMAS Newcastle cruises into history
"For me, it's a one-off, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I have, and it's really hard to put that into words, as to how special that is," she said.
After more than 25 years of service for the Royal Australian Navy, the Newcastle will be decommissioned at the end of this month.
Commander Sellick was presented with the Key to the City following HMAS Newcastle's Freedom of Entry March on Saturday.
After graduating from the Australian Defence Force Academy, Commander Sellick joined the Royal Australian Navy in January 1994. She was awarded a Conspicuous Medal in the 2013 Queen's Birthday Honours and holds a Chief of Joint Operations Group Commendation for a past command. She has a Baceholor of Science from the University of NSW and is studying her Master of Business Administration.
- IN OTHER NEWS: Injured Mitchell Pearce out of Origin
The ship was launched in 1992 in Newcastle by then lady mayoress Margaret McNaughton and was commissioned the following year. Since then, the Newcastle's company has supported Newcastle Senior School, formerly the Hunter Orthopaedic School, as its chosen charity.
HMAS Newcastle's last fundraising campaign, The Great Race, hopes to raise a final $20,000 for the school for students with significant disabilities.
The ship's departure on Tuesday will be marked by a seven-gun salute, the City of Newcastle said.
HMAS Newcastle will be decommissioned at Sydney's Garden Island naval base.
Donate to The Great Race at gofundme.com/thegreatrace