USS Canberra: US commissions first Navy warship in foreign port
The Independence-class littoral combat ship – named after a Royal Australian Navy cruiser that was sunk while supporting the U.S. Marine landings on Guadalcanal in 1942 – was commissioned at a ceremony at an Australian naval base on Sydney Harbour, officially joining the U.S. Navy’s active fleet Image Courtesy AP
As the two close allies strengthen their military connections in reaction to China’s expanding regional reach, the United States commissioned a warship in Sydney, Australia, on Saturday, marking the first time a U.S. Navy vessel entered active service at a foreign port.
The Independence-class littoral combat ship was commissioned at a ceremony at an Australian naval facility on Sydney Harbour, officially joining the US Navy’s active fleet. It was named after a Royal Australian Navy cruiser that was sunk while assisting the US Marine landings on Guadalcanal in 1942.
“Australians can be proud that this ship, designed in Western Australia by local industry and named after HMAS Canberra, is being commissioned here for the first time in the history of the United States Navy,” Australian Defence Minister Marles said in a statement.
The commissioning of the U.S. ship in Australian waters reflected “our shared commitment to upholding the rules-based order”, he added.
The ceremony coincides with the US and Australia’s yearly Talisman Sabre military drills, which are considered as a display of strength and cohesion as China asserts itself more and more in the Indo-Pacific.
The two-week long exercises feature amphibious landings as well as simulated ground and air combat in a number of locations across Australia.
Forces from Canada, Fiji, France, Germany, Indonesia, Japan, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, the Republic of Korea, Tonga, and Britain are also participating in addition to Australia and the US.
The Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) launched a surface-to-ship missile on Saturday as part of the war simulations off Australia’s east coast at Jervis Bay, around 195 kilometres (121 miles) south of Sydney.
Australia’s Defence Department said the drill “marked the first time the JGSDF has tested the capability in Australia”.
As the European country increases its footprint in the region, Germany is taking part for the first time with 210 paratroopers and marines.
The United States and Britain have agreed to assist Australia in acquiring a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines as part of the AUKUS initiative, which was unveiled in March.
Prior to that, in the early 2030s, the US is required to sell Australia three nuclear-powered submarines of the US Virginia class, with an option for Australia to purchase two more.
(With agency inputs)