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  HMAS Canberra (D33)
RAN
Heavy Cruiser
Kent Sub-Class of County Class Cruiser

10,000 tons
590' x 630' 1" x 68.25'
8 x 8" (4 twin mounts)
4 x QF 4" single AA guns
2 x quadruple 40 mm
4 x 3 pdr guns,
2 x quadruple 21" torpedo
1 x Walrus amphibian

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circa 1930s
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August 9, 1942

Ship History
Laid down by John Brown and Company of Clydebank in Scotland September 9, 1925, launched on May 31, 1927 and commissioned on July 9, 1928 under the command of Captain George L. Massey RN. Served five months in British waters, then arrived at Fremantle, Western Australia on January 25, 1929.

Pre War History
In September 1931 when she made her first voyage outside of Australia to visit New Caledonia and Fiji. Canberra visited China in 1932 and 1937, and New Zealand three times. In 1934 she served as escort to Sussex during Prince Henry's visit to Australia.

Wartime History
Canberra performed escort duty in her home waters and the Tasman Sea. In 1940 she was involved in the unsuccessful search for the German raiders Atlantis and Pinguin.

In early 1941 Canberra was involved in the fruitless hunt for the German pocket battleship Admiral Scheer. In March, Canberra and Leander intercepted the German supply ship Coburg and the ex Norwegian tanker Ketty Brovig, which had been taken the previous month by the raider Atlantis. Canberra spent the rest of 1941 as a convoy escort in various parts of the Indian Ocean.

After serving as convoy escort in January 1942, Canberra underwent a three month refit in Sydney. As part of US Navy Task Force 44, in June she participated in offensive sweeps of the Coral Sea. In August Canberra operated with the naval force supporting the Allied invasions of Guadalcanal and Tulagi.

Sinking History
Just before 0145 on August 9, 1942 Canberra received the opening shots of the Battle of Savo Island from a powerful Japanese cruiser force. Within the first two minutes of the battle she was struck by two torpedoes and over 20 salvoes of 8" shellfire. With power lost and the ship listing, the wounded and survivors were transferred to USS Patterson and USS Blue.

Rear Admiral R. K. Turner ordered that if Canberra could not steam by 0630 hours, she would be abandoned and scuttled. At 0800 hours she was sunk by USS Ellet and USS Selfridge, who fired over 260 five inch shells and several torpedoes into her hulk. She was one of the first ships sunk the sea off Guadalcanal and Savo, later known as Iron Bottom Sound on August 9, 1942.

The crew of Canberra suffered 193 casualties during the Battle of Savo Island, including her captain, Frank Getting. Nine officers and 65 ratings were missing believed killed. One officer (the captain) and nine ratings died of wounds. Survivors were rescued by the USS Patterson and taken to Noumea, where they were transferred to the President Grant and transported to Sydney.

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Last Updated
March 5, 2013

 

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