USS Canberra returns
Navy tugs assist the returning USS Canberra on Tuesday. Navy photo

The littoral combat ship USS Canberra returned to its homeport of San Diego on Tuesday following a history-making commissioning ceremony in Australia.

The Canberra left Naval Base San Diego on June 13, visiting American Samoa and Fiji prior to its arrival in Sydney, where it was commissioned at the Royal Australian Navy’s Fleet Base East on July 22.

The Canberra was the first U.S. warship to be commissioned in an allied country.

“Canberra’s transit to and from Sydney afforded the crew time to connect with other Indo-Pacific allies, partners, and friends,” said Capt. Marc Crawford, commodore of Littoral Combat Ship Squadron One. “We are excited to welcome the ship and her crews back to San Diego, ready to support forward-presence, maritime security, sea control and deterrence missions around the globe.”

After arriving in Sydney, sailors from the Canberra participated in sporting events, shared meals, and exchanged ship tours with the crew of the HMAS Canberra, a helicopter carrier.

“This historic commissioning strengthened the camaraderie between the U.S. and Australia and also the crews of HMAS Canberra and USS Canberra as they both took part, side by side, in the ceremony,” said Cmdr. Will Ashley, the Canberra Blue Crew’s commanding officer. “The cities of Sydney and Canberra welcomed us with open arms increasing the connectedness we share amongst our two nations.  It was truly a once in lifetime experience.”

While underway, Canberra sailed over 14,000 nautical miles with a crew comprised of members of both its Blue and Gold crews.

The two crews of approximately 70 sailors each alternate to man the ship. This is designed to give the off-hull crew dedicated time to rest, retrain and recertify before its next on-hull period.

All of the trimaran-version littoral combat ships like the USS Canberra are based in San Diego. The warships are 418 feet in length, armed with guns, missiles and helicopters, and can reach speeds of over 50 mph.

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