US Navy To Christen Warship Named After Australia’s Capital

The future USS Canberra (LCS 30), launched into the Mobile River, Alabama, on March 30 by Austal USA. AUSTAL USA

MOBILE, Alabama (GDC) — The Navy will christen a ship made in Alabama on Saturday, naming it after Australia’s capital city.

Austal USA launched the future USS Canberra (LCS 30) into Alabama’s Mobile River on March 30, the company said in an April 1 release.  

The littoral combat ship will be the second ship named the USS Canberra, according to a Navy news release sent Friday.

Australian Ambassador Arthur Sinodinos will give the main speech and his wife, Elizabeth Anne Sinodinos, will break a bottle of sparkling wine across the bow.

USS Canberra in 1941

Australian Minister of Foreign Affairs Marise Payne is the ship’s sponsor but cannot attend, the Navy said.

Austal USA shipyard in Mobile is building one of two variants of what was designed as an affordable, fast ship to operate in shallow coastal waters, also called littoral waters. Lockheed Martin is building the other in Marinette, Wisconsin.

The first USS Canberra, built in 1941, was the first Navy cruiser named after a foreign capital. Its original name was the USS Pittsburgh. It was renamed Canberra on Oct. 15, 1942, in honor of the Australian heavy cruiser HMAS Canberra, which sank during the Battle of Savo Island.

The USS Canberra received seven battle stars in World War II and in 1958 was the ceremonial flagship for the selection of the Unknown Serviceman of World War II and Korea.

After it was decommissioned in 1970, one of its propellers was given to the Los Angeles Maritime Museum. In 2001, its bell was donated to the Australian National Maritime Museum.

The USS Canberra, an Independence-class littoral combat ship, is the first ship to be launched by Austal USA in 2021 and the first to be launched from the company’s recently acquired dry dock. The Canberra is one of 19 Independence-class LCSs being built by Austal for the U.S. Navy. Austal USA so far has delivered 11 of the class to the Navy.  

The next steps for the Canberra are sea trials and then delivery to the Navy.  

LCS 30 is named in honor of the HMAS Canberra, a Royal Australian Navy heavy cruiser that fought in the Battle of Savo Island in the Solomon Islands in August 1942 during World War II and was sunk along with three U.S. Navy heavy cruisers by imperial Japanese navy forces. Later in the war, the U.S. Navy commissioned a heavy cruiser, USS Canberra (CA 70), in honor of the Australian ship and crew. The Canberra later was modified into a guided-missile heavy cruiser that served during the Vietnam War. 

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