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US Navy christens littoral combat ship named after Australian capital

USS Canberra
Photo: Austal

The US Navy christened its 15th Independence-variant littoral combat ship (LCS) in a ceremony on June 5 in Mobile, Alabama.

Future USS Canberra (LCS 30) is the second US Navy ship to bear the name of the Australian capital.

Australia’s foreign affairs minister Marise Payne served as the ship’s sponsor. As she was unable to attend, Alison Petchell, the Australian government’s minister counsellor defense materiel, christened the future USS Canberra.

“Today, just 16 years after Austal USA joined the US defense industrial base, the company is hosting its 15th littoral combat ship christening – LCS 30, a ship proudly named after the capital of Australia and yet another symbol of the great ties between our two countries,” stated Austal USA interim president Rusty Murdaugh in his address to the audience at the ceremony.

Canberra (LCS 30) is the 15th of 19 small surface combatants Austal USA is building for the US Navy. Five are under various stages of construction and a sixth is on contract waiting to start construction. Austal USA is also constructing two Expeditionary Fast Transport ships (EPF) for the US Navy with one more on contract awaiting start of construction.

The LCS class consists of two variants, the Freedom-variant and the Independence-variant, designed and built by two industry teams. The Freedom variant team is led by Lockheed Martin in Marinette, Wisconsin (for the odd-numbered hulls). The Independence-variant team is led by Austal USA in Mobile, Ala., (for LCS 6 and the subsequent even-numbered hulls).

LCS 30 is the second ship named in honor of the city of Canberra. The first USS Canberra (CA 70) was laid down as USS Pittsburgh on Sept. 3, 1941 and renamed Canberra on Oct. 15, 1942. She was named in honor of the Australian heavy cruiser HMAS Canberra, which sank after receiving heavy damage during the Battle of Savo Island. CA 70 was the first U.S. Navy cruiser named for a foreign capital. USS Canberra (CA 70) received seven battle stars for her service in World War II. In May 1958, Canberra served as the ceremonial flagship for the selection of the Unknown Serviceman of World War II and Korea. Canberra was decommissioned in a ceremony on Feb. 2, 1970, at the San Francisco Bay Naval Shipyard. One of her propellers is preserved at the Los Angeles Maritime Museum, while the ship’s bell was donated to the Australian National Maritime Museum in 2001.

LCS 30 is joining another Canberra already in service – the second of the Royal Australian Navy’s two Adelaide-class landing helicopter docks (LHD).