The White House
President George W. Bush
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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
September 10, 2001

Fact Sheet
USS Canberra Bell

     The USS Canberra (CA-70) was commissioned on October 14, 1943. At the request of President Franklin Roosevelt, the U.S. cruiser was named to honor the Australian cruiser HMAS Canberra, which had been sunk the previous year in the battle of Savo Island, near Guadalcanal.

     The battle was one of the first major naval engagements in the Pacific to feature a mixed force of U.S. and Australian vessels fighting side-by-side against the Japanese.  The night action was a serious defeat for the Allies, during which the HMAS Canberra was sunk and 85 of her crew lost.  The battle nevertheless succeeded in diverting Japanese ships from vulnerable troop transports, ensuring the safe landing of an invasion force.  The common sacrifice of the HMAS Canberra and other U.S. and Australian vessels and sailors was emblematic of our two countries' alliance, born in the grim early days of World War II.

     The USS Canberra carried on the honorable tradition of its namesake, participating in the remainder of WWII and the Vietnam War, the latter after its conversion to a guided missile cruiser in the 1950's.  The USS Canberra remained active with the U.S. Navy until her decommissioning in 1970.

     The USS Canberra's ship's bell, a distinctive emblem of her proud career, is presented to the Government and Commonwealth of Australia on this occasion to mark the 50th anniversary of the ANZUS Treaty Alliance.

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