US Navy’s latest ship, USS Canberra, officially joins the fleet in Sydney ceremony

The futuristic triple-hulled USS Canberra glides into Sydney Harbour carrying best wishes from Washington.

The futuristic triple-hulled USS Canberra glides into Sydney Harbour carrying best wishes from Washington. Photo: AAP

The first US warship to be commissioned in a foreign port has been ushered into service in Sydney with US and Australian navy chiefs and dignitaries on hand for the ceremony at Garden Island.

The USS Canberra, a littoral combat ship with a crew of 50, had its colours hoisted to the mast on Saturday as its company of servicemen and women cheered the addition to the fleet.

Highly agile and capable of speeds of up to 40 knots, the combat vessel is only the second in the US navy to be named after a non-American city.

The only other time a US ship has held a foreign city’s name was its predecessor, the USS Canberra heavy cruiser, launched in 1943 during Franklin D Roosevelt’s wartime presidency.

President Roosevelt made that order to honour the loss of the HMAS Canberra and the deaths of more than 80 sailors after it was sunk during the battle of Savo Island while screening the American invasion on Guadalcanal.

The USS Canberra’s Commander William Ashley thanked the builders who he said had given the navy a “great ship”.

“She handles like a dream and meets every mission she was intended for,” he said.

Comm Ashley said the naming of the USS Canberra further strengthened the bonds between Australia and the US as he also praised his crew.

“The crew that you just saw bring this ship to life is one of the best I’ve ever served with during my 30 years in the navy,” he said.

‘They love this ship’

“They look out for each other, they love this ship and they pour their blood, and sometimes tears, into her.”

Defence minister Richard Marles said as part of the ongoing connection between the two countries’ navies, an Australian officer would forever be part of the USS Canberra’s crew.

Its link with Australia would also be marked by a star-spangled Kangaroo fixed to its side.

Mr Marles said Australia’s alliance with the US was at the centre of its national security

“There is only one alliance. (It) has been, and will continue to be, both fundamental and astounding,” he said.

After spending a month at sea travelling to Australia from its base in San Diego, the USS Canberra will now host the opening ceremony of Exercise Talisman Sabre, the military training activity between Australia, the US and regional partners including Japan, Indonesia, France and the United Kingdom, among others.

A procession of Australian and US Navy officers in Canberra will also mark the ship’s commissioning on Sunday.


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