Canberra’s unforgettable experience

Published on LEUT Emily Kennedy (author), LSIS Helen Frank (photographer), ABIS Richard Cordell (photographer)

Location(s): Sydney Harbour, NSW

HMAS Canberra takes pride of place between the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge during the Australia Day ceremony, which involved a 21 gun salute to His Excellency General The Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Ret'd) Governor of New South Wales. (photo: ABIS Richard Cordell)
HMAS Canberra takes pride of place between the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge during the Australia Day ceremony, which involved a 21 gun salute to His Excellency General The Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Ret'd) Governor of New South Wales.

Almost as high as the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and longer than two football fields, no-one could miss HMAS Canberra as she took centre stage in Sydney Harbour for the Australia Day celebrations.

The newly commissioned Landing Helicopter Dock was positioned in the waters between the Opera House and bridge with little room to manoeuvre.

Canberra’s Navigator, Lieutenant Commander Calvin Johnson, said the team executed the plan well.

“It was a unique opportunity to pilot the ship into such a prominent position on the harbour for Australia Day,” said Lieutenant Commander Johnson.

“We needed to ensure that our navigation organisation and all the supporting elements such as engineering teams and communicators were working together to ensure everything was conducted safely and professionally.

“While the ship is very large, it is extremely manoeuvrable with two Azimuth pods at the stern to propel and steer the ship and a bow thruster at the bow; Canberra can turn on itself in one spot if required,” he said.

Canberra hosted the Governor of New South Wales, His Excellency General the Honourable David Hurley for the ‘Salute to Australia’ on the flight deck.

Governor of NSW, His Excellency General David Hurley AC DSC (Retd) takes the Salute to Australia on the flight deck of HMAS Canberra.

Governor of NSW, His Excellency General David Hurley AC DSC (Retd) takes the Salute to Australia on the flight deck of HMAS Canberra.


Marked by a 21 gun salute, conducted by the Royal Australian Army Artillery from Bradfield Park, five children’s choirs positioned around the Sydney foreshore, with one choir on Canberra’s flight deck, the national anthem was sung in unison. On completion of the anthem, Air Force jets flew past directly over Canberra.

Conductor of the New South Wales Public Schools Junior Singers, Ms Rachel Kelly, said it was great to see the ship in close quarters and it was a day the children would never forget.

“It was a thrilling moment for students and staff alike to step out onto the flight deck and see the Harbour Bridge to one side and the Opera House on the other,” said Ms Kelly.

“The students were fascinated by life onboard the ship and loved seeing where the Navy personnel work, ate and slept.

“I would like to thank HMAS Canberra for the experience o f a lifetime. Each person we encountered was warm, friendly and welcoming…we always felt in good hands,” she said.

On completion of the official proceedings, the ship moved and secured to a buoy at Point Piper. The invited guests, including the choir were then transported ashore by Canberra’s Landing Craft making the experience even more memorable.

Once all Australia Day guests were safely ashore, Canberra departed Sydney Harbour to commence her first of class trials at sea. She will be training and conducting trials in the waters off the east coast of Australia including Jervis Bay for the next few weeks.

Canberra is the first of two ships that have been built for Navy and was commissioned into service on 28 November last year. Her crew are currently preparing for the role that involves conducting complex amphibious operations as well as large scale humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations.

Imagery is available on the Navy Image Library at http://images.navy.gov.au/S20150067.