Members of the HMAS Rankin submarine crew sailed into town last Thursday for a jam-packed three days of activities and all were thrilled with the warm reception they received.
In a medieval ritual that signifies the trust between a military unit and a city, the crew of the HMAS Rankin was first given “Freedom of Entry” to Cobar in 2004.
A new crew of 18 sailors from the submarine, who had not previously visited Cobar, were last week once again granted “Freedom of Entry” with Cobar RSL Sub Branch president Ben Hewlett acting as their personal tour guide.
As part of their visit, the crew went to St John’s and Cobar Public schools to speak to students and also spent time with residents of the Lilliane Brady Village nursing home.
They visited the CSA and Peak Gold Mines and enjoyed underground tours.
While in town, the sailors joined in a number of social activities where they met the locals and were guests at a dinner at the Cobar Services Club on Thursday and the Cobar Bowling & Golf Club’s Captain Morgan Sailor party on Saturday night.
The crew also lined up for a game of touch football and took part in a variety of novelty games against local sporting groups.
Cobar has a connection with the submarine crew with their vessel named after naval officer, Lieutenant Commander Robert William Rankin, who was born in Cobar in 1903 and served with the Australian Navy.
Commander Rankin was tragically killed by an enemy Japanese squadron that attacked a convoy he and his crew of the HMAS Yarra were protecting on route from Java to Australia in 1942 during World War II.
“Every sailor serving on Rankin is aware of its namesake and knows the story of Commander Rankin,” HMAS crew member Petty Officer Mark Lindo told The Cobar Weekly.
Able Seaman Trent Bailey said he first learnt about Cobar when reading of Commander Rankin’s history.
“It’s important for the crew of HMAS Rankin to visit Cobar to keep a strong relationship with the area Lieutenant Commander Rankin was born and grew up.
“It’s also important as members of the Submarine force to get out to Cobar to show the community that Australia has a strong, capable and professional submarine force,” Able Seaman Bailey said.
For both, last week’s trip to Cobar was their first and both said they were made to feel very welcome from the outset.
Marine Technician Submarines Mark Lindo, who had never been to Cobar before, said he felt the whole town had opened its arms and welcomed them like they were long lost family returning after many years being away.
Mr Lindo said he joined the navy at 19 with the hope of serving his country, seeing the world and gaining a qualification he could utilise when it came to time leave the force.
“My Dad and I built large wooden ships together throughout my high school years with old bits of timber left over from construction sites.
“All in all, we built around 35 ships and one submarine ranging between 1ft to 10 feet long.
“I guess from an early age the thought of joining the Navy was there in the back of my mind,” he told The Cobar Weekly.