The Governor General of Australia, together with the Prime Minister of Australia, were the guests of honour on Friday as Australia’s first Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD) was welcomed into service in the Royal Australian Navy.
The Australian White Ensign was raised for the first time, signalling that HMAS Canberra (III) was formally commissioned into the Fleet.
Navy, Army and Air Force members of ship’s company lined the aircraft hangar as invited guests witnessed the historic event.
Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Tim Barrett said that the commissioning was a step towards developing the future of the Navy.
“HMAS Canberra is an exciting addition to the Royal Australian Navy. This very capable ship will serve the nation well for decades to come,” he said.
Commanding Officer Captain Jonathan Sadleir said it was also a significant moment for the tri-service ship’s company who had been training for months in preparation for the introduction of the LHD.
“It was a proud and emotional experience for me to stand with 400 exceptional members of my crew today. Through the efforts of many organizations, this outstanding ship is now a reality,” said Captain Sadleir.
The ship brings a significant increase in amphibious potential to the Australian Defence Force.
“We know it’s an awesome ship with huge capability, but the next step is to go to sea and test procedures, refine and consolidate, so we can be ready when the nation needs us,” he said.
Leading Seaman Communications Information Systems Stuart Thurlow had the proud role of breaking the ensign for the first time.
“I remember one of the first briefings my class received during recruit training back in 2009 was a White Paper presentation on the introduction of the LHDs, and I remember thinking how much I would love to be part of the commissioning crew,” said Leading Seaman Thurlow.
“Not only having been able to do that, but to have such an important role today such as raising the Australian White Ensign for the first time makes it even more special - I think my parents were very surprised and proud today,” he said.
The youngest member of Canberra’s ship’s company, Seaman Marine Technician Michael Lane had the honour of joining Canberra’s Commanding Officer to cut the ship’s Commissioning cake which is a traditional part of the day and a fitting tribute to the celebration.