SYDNEY, Australia: The United States commissioned the warship USS Canberra in Sydney, Australia, on July 22.
This was the first time in US history that a US Navy vessel was placed into active service while in a foreign port.
It was also seen as a message to China, restating the close alliance between Australia and the US.
The USS Canberra, classified as an Independence-class combat ship – has been named after a Royal Australian Navy cruiser which was damaged in combat and later sunk while participating in the U.S. Marine landings on Guadalcanal in 1942.
This week’s commissioning was held at an Australian naval base in Sydney Harbour.
“Australians can be proud that this ship, designed in Western Australia by local industry and named after HMAS Canberra, is being commissioned here for the first time in the history of the United States Navy,” Australian Defence Minister Richard Marles said in a statement.
That the commissioning ceremony took place in Australian waters reflected, “our shared commitment to upholding the rules-based order,” he added.
The ceremony occurred during the ongoing Talisman Sabre military exercises between the U.S. and Australia. This year’s military exercise is meant to reinforce the idea of countering an increasingly belligerent Chinese navy.
The two week military exercise in Australia includes mock land and air combat, along with amphibious landings.
Besides Australia and the U.S., forces from Canada, Fiji, France, Germany, Indonesia, Japan, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, the Republic of Korea, Tonga and Britain are taking part.
Of note, during the exercise the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) scheduled the launch of a surface-to-ship missile off Australia’s east coast at Jervis Bay, about 195km south of Sydney.
Marles said the exercise “marked the first time the JGSDF has tested the capability in Australia.”
Also for the first time, Germany is participating, having sent 210 paratroopers and marines.
Last March, the US and Britain agreed to assist Australia in building a fleet of nuclear submarines.
Additionally, the US has committed to selling Australia three U.S. Virginia class nuclear-powered submarines, with an option for Australia to purchase two more.