HMAS Canberra

This site is dedicated to all Royal Australian Navy and Australian Defence Force personnel who have served in HMAS CANBERRA.


HMAS CANBERRA (1) D 33 from the 9th of July 1928 until she was sunk in action off Savo Island on the 9th of August 1942.


HMAS CANBERRA (2) FFG-02 from the 21st of March 1981 until Decomissioning on the 12th of November 2005.


HMAS Canberra (3) LHD-02 from Commissioning on the 23rd of November 2014.



HMAS Canberra 1 D33

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HMAS Canberra D-33

HMAS CANBERRA was one of two 10,000 ton County Class heavy cruisers ordered by the Australian Government as part of a five year naval development program begun in 1924 and completed in 1929. She commissioned at Clydebank on 9 July 1928 under the command of Captain George L. Massey RN.



The Princess Mary, Princess Royal and Countess of Harewood visits H.M.A.S. Canberra, pride of Australian Navy, which she launched last year before departure for Australian waters. Portsmouth, Hampshire.


HMAS Canberra - D33 Statistics





Kent Class


31 May 1927 by Her Royal Highness Princess Mary


9 July 1928


Sunk off Savo Island, 9 August 1942


9,850 tons


630 feet


68 feet 4 inches


8 x 8-inch guns
4 x 4-inch guns
4 x 3-pounder guns



Main Machinery

Brown-Curtis Geared Turbines, 4 screws


31½ knots


679 (710 as Flagship)


HMAS Canberra - D33 Pre- WW2

HMAS Canberra was built to the Kent Class design of County Class cruisers, her sister ships being HMAS AUSTRALIA and HM Ships KENT, BERWICK, CORNWALL, CUMBERLAND and SUFFOLK. After some five months in British home waters, CANBERRA sailed from Portsmouth for Australia on 4 December 1928 and arrived at Fremantle on 25 January 1929, having sailed via Gibraltar, Freetown, Lagos, Cape Town, Simonstown and Durban.

The new cruiser remained in Australian home waters until September 1931 when she made her first voyage outside of the Australia Station to visit to New Caledonia and Fiji.

In the following nine years leading up to the outbreak of the World War II, CANBERRA remained in commission with several periods as the Flagship of the Australian Squadron. She visited the China Station in 1932 and again in 1937. New Zealand ports saw her on three occasions but for the remainder of the time it was the routine cruising of the peace time navy in home waters. In 1934 she acted as escort to His Royal Highness The Duke of Gloucester during his visit in HMS SUSSEX.

History of Ship's Crest...More


HMAS Canberra 1 Commissioning Crew

The Commissioning Crew for HMAS Canberra (1) travelled to the United Kingdom aboard the Merchant Ship SS Beltana in 1928.

"Beltana" was the second of five 11,000 ton twin-screw steamers built specifically for the Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Co.'s Branch Service via the Cape, which specialised in the emigrant trade. The ships were known as the P. & O. "B" class, all having names being with the letter "B", and until 1914, carried the black hull and distinctive blue & black funnel markings of the Blue Anchor Line, from whom P & O had acquired the service in July 1909.

The "Beltana" was a single-class ship, with basic cabin accommodation for up to 350 3rd-class passengers and temporary dormitories for an additional 750 emigrants in the hold, that could be removed to make way for cargo on the homeward voyage. She carried a crew of 260. "Beltana" served as a First World War troop ship from 1914, returning to her original service after reconditioning in 1919.

SS Beltana

In 1929 a single return voyage was made via the Suez Canal, departing London on 7 Feb, with calls at Malta, Colombo, Melbourne & Sydney. This was to be her last Australian voyage, for the following year the "Beltana" was sold to Toyo Hogei Kabushiki Kaisha of Osaka, Japan, for conversion to a whaling factory ship, but remained laid up until 1933 when she was finally broken up for scrap.

Burial At Sea On S.S. "Beltana". One Of The Crew, Able Seaman D.S. Brett RAN, Was Accidentally Killed En Route To England To Take Delivery Of The HMAS Canberra. The Body Is Consigned To The Deep on 24 June 1928 "Lest we Forget"

After some five months in British home waters, CANBERRA sailed from Portsmouth for Australia on 4 December 1928 and arrived at Fremantle on 25 January 1929, having sailed via Gibraltar, Freetown, Lagos, Cape Town, Simonstown and Durban.

Claude Choules - HMAS Canberra 1 Commissioning Crew

Britain's last surviving WWI veteran, who went on to fight for the Australian navy in WWII, Mr Choules travelled to Australia with the Royal Navy in 1926 to work as an instructor at Flinders Naval Depot before transferring to the Royal Australian Navy (RAN).

He was a commissioning crew member of the HMAS Canberra and served with her until 1931 when he discharged from the RAN before rejoining as a torpedo and anti-submarine instructor in 1932...More


World War 2

At the outbreak of hostilities in September 1939, CANBERRA began her war time career patrolling and escorting in home waters and the Tasman Sea under the command of Captain Wilfrid R. Patterson CVO RN, a service which occupied the cruiser for the first nine months of the war.

In June 1940 Captain Harold B. Farncomb MVO RAN assumed command and the following month CANBERRA began a period of service in the Indian Ocean on escort duty from Fremantle to Colombo and Cape Town. In July she made an unsuccessful search for the German raider ATLANTIS, then at large on the shipping routes leading from Africa to India and the Malay States.

In November 1940 she rescued survivors of the SS PORT BRISBANE and carried out a prolonged but again unsuccessful search for her attacker, the German raider PINGUIN, then en route for Antarctica after mining Australian ports.

In 1941 CANBERRA continued her Indian Ocean escort and patrol duties, making further surface raider searches in January and again in February when she took part in the fruitless hunt for the battleship ADMIRAL SCHEER. In March 1941, however, the cruiser reaped the reward of the constant patrolling, when in the company of HMNZS LEANDER she intercepted the German supply ship COBURG and the ex Norwegian tanker KETTY BROVIG, which had been taken in prize the previous month by the raider ATLANTIS.

In mid June 1941 CANBERRA visited the west Indian Ocean for the last time and departing Zanzibar proceeded for Colombo. After a brief period escorting in Indian waters, she returned to Australia during the last week of July. The second half of 1941 saw CANBERRA operating in the eastern Indian Ocean escorting convoys from Australia to Singapore and Ceylon and in the Tasman Sea.

When war broke out with Japan on 8 December 1941, CANBERRA was berthed in Sydney Harbour with more than 175,000 miles of war time operational steaming to her credit.

Following the outbreak of the Pacific War she continued her role of escort cruiser, convoying troops to New Guinea in January 1942 and convoys to the Malayan / Java theatre. On 7 February 1942 she docked in Sydney for extensive refit work that was not completed until mid May, when she escorted a convoy south to Melbourne. Back in Sydney she lay at anchor not far from the cruiser USS CHICAGO on the night of the Japanese midget submarine attack on 31 May / 1 June 1942.

Captain Frank E. Getting RAN assumed command of CANBERRA in June 1942. During the same month CANBERRA took part in offensive sweeps in the Coral Sea as part of Task Force 44, which included US Ships CHICAGO and SALT LAKE CITY.

Savo Island 1942

HMAS Canberra mortally damaged by Japanese Imperial Navy 1942

In August 1942 CANBERRA operated with the naval force supporting the American landings at Guadalcanal and Tulagi, operations which ended with her loss in the Battle of Savo Island on 9 August 1942.CANBERRA was struck by two torpedoes on her starboard side and over 20 salvoes of 8-inch shellfire. With power lost and the ship listing, the wounded and survivors the transferred to USS PATTERSON and USS BLUE.

Rear Admiral R.K. Turner USN ordered that CANBERRA be abandoned and sunk if she could not steam by 6:30 am. Once all the survivors had been evacuated, and acting in accordance with the orders of Rear Admiral Turner and Rear Admiral V.A.C. Crutchley VC DSC RN, who was officer in tactical command of the combined force of Australian and American cruisers and destroyers at Guadalcanal, USS SELFRIDGE fired 263 5-inch shells and four torpedoes into CANBERRA, although she refused to sink. Eventually a torpedo fired by USS ELLET administered the final blow. CANBERRA sank about 8:00 am on 9 August 1942.

There were 193 casualties amongst the 819 personnel serving in CANBERRA on 9 August 1942. Missing believed killed were nine officers (including one Royal Australian Air Force and one United States Navy) and 65 ratings (including three Royal Australian Air Force and two Royal Navy); one officer (Captain Frank E.Getting RAN) and nine ratings (including one Royal Australian Air Force) died of wounds; and 10 officers (including one Royal Navy), 96 ratings (including two Royal Australian Air Force, one Royal Navy and two United States Navy) and three civilian Canteen Staff were wounded." Lest we Forget"


HMAS Canberra 1 Memorial Service - Canberra ACT, 09 August 2011



Memorial Service held for HMAS Canberra 1 - 23 October 2011

A Memorial Service was held at the Maroochadore RSL Cenotaph on The Esplanade, Cotton Tree on Sunday 23 October 2011.

The Memorial Service was conducted by Padre Ian Taylor of the Naval Reserve Cadets, members of the HMAS Canberra 2 Ships Company and Families attend the Service where approx 80 personnel were present.

Brian Shelmerdine, Phillip McDonald , Luke Leather and Lee Webster all took an active part in the ceremony.

Order of Service...More


HMAS Canberra Rememberance


HMAS Canberra Memorial, Solomon Islands...More

HMAS Canberra Memorial, Canberra ACT...More


HMAS Canberra 1 Image Gallery


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HMAS Canberra 1 - News Articles 1927-1992

Newspaper Articles of HMAS Canberra 1, from her launching in the United Kingdom in 1927 to when she was sunk in World War 2 and beyond..More



Placeholder ImageHMAS Canberra 1 - Crew 1928-1942

This Gallery has images of the Commission Crew of HMAS Canberra 1 in 1927, Operation Crew 1928-1942 and the Crew that survived the sinking of HMAS Canberra 1 at Savo Island in August 1942 after engaging the Japanese Imperial Navy she was scuttled.

Placeholder ImageHMAS Canberra 1 - Operational Image 1928-1942

Operational Images of HMAS Canberra 1, HMAS CANBERRA was one of two 10,000 ton County Class heavy cruisers ordered by the Australian Government as part of a five year naval development program begun in 1924 and completed in 1929. She commissioned at Clydebank on 9 July 1928

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HMAS Canberra 1 Memorabilia 1927-1942

Memorabilia from HMAS Canberra 1 the County Class heavy cruisers.

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HMAS Canberra 1 Memorials

Images of Memorials and Memorial Services conducted in the memory of the 84 Sailors that lost their lives in HMAS Canberra 1 on the 9 August 1942, Lest we Forget


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