Future USS Canberra
The future USS Canberra departs San Diego Harbor for an exercise in April. Navy photo

A littoral combat ship bound for Naval Base San Diego will be commissioned in Australia, marking the first international commissioning and deepening ties between two Pacific-facing democracies, the Navy announced.

The future USS Canberra, the 16th trimaran variant of the littoral class, will soon head from San Diego to Sydney for its commissioning on July 22 and then officially join the fleet.

“I can think of no better way to signify our enduring partnership with Australia than celebrating the newest U.S. Navy warship named for Australia’s capital city, and commissioning her in Royal Australian Navy Fleet Base East surrounded by many of the Australian ships we have worked alongside for years,” said Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro.

It will be the second U.S. ship to bear the name. The first was a heavy cruiser named in honor of HMAS Canberra, which was heavily damaged and scuttled while protecting U.S. Marines fighting ashore during the Battle of Savo Island in 1942.

Australian Chief of Navy, Vice Adm. Mark Hammond, said the commissioning encapsulates both the depth of the historical ties, and the modern day partnership between the Royal Australian Navy and the U.S. Navy. 

“This is a unique demonstration of respect by the U.S. for the officers and sailors of the Royal Australian Navy,” Hammond said. “As we look to the future, the strength of our partnership remains a cornerstone of a secure, stable, free and open Indo-Pacific Region.”

The ship was built in Mobile, Alabama, by Austal USA, the U.S. unit of an Australian company that also has a growing presence in San Diego.

The new ship is 418 feet in length, armed with guns, missiles and helicopters, and can reach speeds of over 50 mph. The littoral ships are being built in two variants, with all vessels of the trimaran version based in San Diego.

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.