Canberra takes centre stage on Sydney Harbour

This article has photo gallery Published on LEUT Tanalee Smith (author), LSIS Christopher Szumlanski (photographer)

Location(s): Sydney Harbour, NSW

Topic(s): Royal Australian Navy Band, HMAS Canberra (L02), Operation BUSHFIRE ASSIST

A Royal Australian Navy MH-60R Seahawk flies the Australian White Ensign over Sydney Harbour during the 2020 Australia Day celebrations. (photo: LSIS Christopher Szumlanski)
A Royal Australian Navy MH-60R Seahawk flies the Australian White Ensign over Sydney Harbour during the 2020 Australia Day celebrations.

HMAS Canberra played a starring role in Sydney’s Australia Day celebrations as the centrepiece of the traditional Salute to Australia on Sydney Harbour.

Among the hundreds of guests on board were 50 Rural Fire Service volunteers, and their families, who have been battling the devastating bushfires; as well as brand new Australian citizens and the Governor of New South Wales, Her Excellency the Honourable Margaret Beazley AC QC.

Captain Terry Morrison, Canberra’s Commanding Officer, said he was pleased that his ship’s company could be part of the Salute, which acknowledged contributions to Australian society, including by Defence personnel.

“As Defence members, we are proud Australians and proud to serve our country, as many of our fellow officers and sailors have been doing during Operation BUSHFIRE ASSIST and as the Royal Australian Navy does all year round.

“Commemorating Australia Day on board Canberra by welcoming new citizens and hosting the Governor and other guests is a unique honour,” Captain Morrison said.

While on board Canberra, Governor Beazley received a 21-gun salute, fired from Bradfield Park in North Sydney, before guests took advantage of the best seats in the Harbour for an F18 flypast coordinated by the Royal Australian Air Force.

Guests were also treated to a lively performance by the Australian Army Band, rounding out the tri-service contributions, while elsewhere on Sydney Harbour the Royal Australian Navy Band played an afternoon concert.

Governor Beazley paid tribute to all RFS volunteers who have been battling bushfires across New South Wales.

The Royal Australian Navy continues to support Operation BUSHFIRE ASSIST 19-20, providing support to communities off the New South Wales, Victorian and South Australian coasts.

HMAS Canberra returned to work early this year in order to be prepared to support ADF efforts in Operation BUSHFIRE ASSIST 19-20.

“I commend the ship’s company, Navy support organisations and Defence Industry for their hard work in order to ensure Canberra was ready for sea,” Captain Morrison said.

“We are prepared to assist in whatever way required.”