US commissions navy warship USS Canberra in Sydney


The United States has commissioned a warship in Sydney, Australia, the first time a US Navy vessel joined active service at a foreign port, as the two close allies step up their military ties in response to China’s expanding regional reach.

The Independence-class littoral combat ship – named USS Canberra – was commissioned on Saturday at a ceremony at an Australian naval base on Sydney Harbour, officially joining the US Navy’s active fleet.

“Australians can be proud that this ship, designed in Western Australia by local industry … 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.

The original USS Canberra was a cruiser launched in 1943 named after the Australian cruiser HMA
S Canberra that was torpedoed by the Japanese in 1942 with a loss of 193 lives while supporting US Marine landings on the Solomon Islands. The Australian warship was named for the Australian capital.

The commissioning of the US ship in Australian waters reflected “our shared commitment to upholding the rules-based order”, Marles added.

Australia has announced moves to develop military facilities in its northern region, while also saying that the US military presence there will increase in coming years.

A US “Indo-Pacific Strategy” last year announced efforts to work more closely with regional allies to “shape the region around China” to blunt Beijing’s influence.

Military exercises, taking place in various locations across Australia over two weeks, include mock land and air combat, as well as amphibious landings.

In addition to Australia and the US, forces from Canada, Fiji, France, Germany, Indonesia, Japan, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, the Republic of Korea, Tonga and Britain are taking part.

As part of the war games, the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) on Saturday launched a surface-to-ship missile off Australia’s east coast at Jervis Bay, about 195km (121 miles) south of Sydney.

Australia’s defence department said the drill “marked the first time the JGSDF has tested the capability in Australia”.

Germany is participating for the first time with 210 paratroopers and marines taking part, as the European nation bolsters its presence in the region.

Under the AUKUS project announced in March, the US and Britain have agreed to help Australia acquire a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines.

Before that, in the early 2030s, the United States is supposed to sell Australia three US Virginia class nuclear-powered submarines, with an option for Australia to buy two more.

 Source: Aljazeera

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