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US Commissions Navy Warship in Australia

'China continues the rapid expansion of its navy, leveraging its maritime organizational strength to coerce and intimidate its neighbors,' said Secretary of the Navy

The United States commissioned a warship in Sydney, Australia, marking the first time a vessel was added to the Navy’s active fleet in a non-American port.

The ship, now known as the USS Canberra, is an Independence-class littoral combat ship. It was named in honor of the HMAS Canberra, an Australian naval cruiser that sank in 1942 while supporting the US Marine landings on Guadalcanal, per Reuters

Australian Defence Minister Richard Marles said the commissioning of an American ship in Australia symbolizes the nations’ “shared commitment to upholding the rules-based order” while speaking at a ceremony on July 22.

Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro spoke at the ceremony. Del Toro noted that the first USS Canberra was commissioned in the 1940s and reflected on the current tensions in the Indo-Pacific region. The secretary said the USS Canberra will “play a  crucial role in securing our ability to conduct unencumbered maritime trade across the globe, promoting the wealth and strength of our two nations, along with those of our allies and partners.”

“We, along with our allies and partners around the world, are facing significant challenges in every environment that we operate,” he said. “The People’s Republic of China continues the rapid expansion of its navy, leveraging its maritime organizational strength to coerce and intimidate its neighbors into accepting illegitimate maritime claims.”

Today, we commissioned USS Canberra into service, not just part of Littoral Combat Ship Squadron One, not just part of the United States Pacific Fleet,” said Del Toro. “Today, we commissioned this ship into service as a combat unit that will integrate with the Australian fleet and with the combined maritime force of allies and partners who stand united across the entire Indo-Pacific.”

The ship is 412 feet in length and is capable of carrying helicopters. 

“Independence-variant LCS are fast, optimally-manned, mission-tailored, surface combatants that operate both close to shore and in open-ocean environments,” said the Department of Defense in a statement on July 20. “LCS integrate with joint, combined, crewed, and unmanned systems to support forward-presence, maritime security, sea control, and deterrence missions around the globe. The USS Canberra’s sister ships, USS Jackson (LCS 6), USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS 10), USS Manchester (LCS 14), and USS Mobile (LCS 26) are all currently on deployment in the Indo-Pacific.”

Construction began on the vessel in February of 2019.

The DOD reported that the USS Canberra is being sponsored by Australian Senator Marise Payne, her country’s former Minister of Foreign Affairs. Payne attended the ship’s keel laying ceremony in 2020 at Austal USA’s shipyard in Mobile, Alabama. 

“It’s a privilege to be building a U.S. Navy combat ship named for the capital of Australia, the birthplace of Austal USA’s parent organization,” said Austal USA President Craig Perciavalle in a press release at the time. “The Independence-variant LCS will play a prominent role in the safety and security of the Pacific as our ships deploy forward this year and for years to come.”

Austal described the LCS as a “highly maneuverable, lethal and adaptable ship” used for “focused mine countermeasures, anti-submarine warfare and surface warfare missions.”

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