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Commissioning Ceremony: USS Canberra, Garden Island, Sydney


I acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we meet, the Gadigal People of the Eora Nation, and pay my respects to their elders, past and present, emerging leaders and all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders gathered here today.

It is an honour to welcome you to the ceremonial commissioning of USS Canberra

Today is a momentous day for the crew of USS Canberra. 

It is also a day of celebration for our navies – a great Navy Day.

And it is a celebration and very visible example of our two nations’ shared history, contemporary partnership, and commitment to the future. 

From Australia's perspective a continuation from John Curtin's 1941 call for Australia to turn towards the United States, and Menzies' reaction to Sir Percy Spender's first draft of the ANZUS Treaty: 'Good work, Percy. Come and have a brandy'.

The first USS Canberra was named at the direction of President Roosevelt in honour of HMAS Canberra which was sunk after receiving heavy damage during the Battle of Savo Island on 9 August 1942. 

The US Ambassador to Australia, in a telegram to the Secretary of State, suggested the act could ‘create a lasting tie between the two countries.’

President Roosevelt, potentially shortcutting bureaucracy, sent that telegram to the Secretary of the Navy saying he thought it would be a good idea. 

A month later, the Presidential direction was finalised, and that lasting tie created.

The Battle of Savo was one battle in one war.  

The lives lost onboard HMAS Canberra are just a tragic fraction of the many from both our nations who have made the ultimate sacrifice.

It is a single, yet poignant, example drawn from more than a century of our nations’ shared history. 

Australian and American ships and sailors, side-by-side, serving and sacrificing for our nations’ shared commitment. 

Their sacrifice, and our nations’ friendship, are now honoured through the name ‘Canberra’. 

The presence of the current iterations of both HMAS and USS Canberra are evidence of the enduring bond between our nations.

USS Canberra is a tangible sign of a relationship built on trust, shared values and shared interests.

That relationship will be celebrated in our national capital tomorrow with a Freedom of Entry Parade, underlining the connection between the ship and its namesake city.

It is a relationship that has stood the test of time and will stand long into the future. 

I congratulate all who have made today possible. 

To the crew of USS Canberra, and all involved with her — enjoy today’s celebration and, please, take note of the esteem in which this day is held, as is your service. 

It is, as I say, a great Navy Day. 

Fair winds and following seas.