CA 70 / CAG 2
USS CANBERRA CA 70
CANBERRA departed Boston 14 January 1944 and sailed via San Diego to embark passengers for Pearl Harbor, arriving 1 February. She rendezvoused with TF 58 on 14 February and took part in the capture of Eniwetok. The cruiser steamed from her base at Majuro to join the YORKTOWN (CV-10) task group for the raids on the Palaus, Yap, Ulithi, and Woleai (30 March-l April), then got underway from the same base 13 April for air strikes against Hollandia and Wadke in support of the Army landings on New Guinea. CANBERRA joined with the ENTERPRISE (CV-6) task group for fighter sweeps against Truk, then bombarded Matawan, rejoining the carriers for further strikes on Truk (29 April-1 May).
damage control could isolate the compartments, some 4,500 tons of water
rushed in to flood her after fire room and both engine rooms, which brought
the cruiser to a stop. Then began one of the most notable achievements
of the war in saving wounded ships. CANBERRA was taken in tow by WICHITA
(CA-45). The task force reformed to provide escort for her and HOUSTON
(CL-81) who had been torpedoed on the morning of the 14th. Retiring toward
Ulithi, “Cripple Division 1” fought off an enemy air attack
that succeeded in firing another torpedo into HOUSTON. Admiral Halsey
(CTF 38) attempted to use the group, now nicknamed “Bait Division
1,” to lure the Japanese fleet into the open, but when the enemy
sortied from the Inland Sea, air attacks from the rest of TF 38 roused
enemy suspicions of the trap, and the Japanese force withdrew. CANBERRA
and her group continued unmolested to Ulithi, arriving 27 October, 2 weeks
from the day she was hit. The cruiser was towed to Manus for temporary
repairs, thence departed for permanent repairs at Boston Navy Yard (16
February-17 October l945). CANBERRA returned to the west coast late in 1945 and was placed out of commission on 6 July 1946 at Mare Island Naval Ship Yard and into the reserve (Mothball) fleet at Bremerton, WA on 7 March 1947.
USS CANBERRA CAG 2
"mothballed" heavy cruiser Canberra was redesignated CAG-2 in
early January 1952. She was subsequently towed from Bremerton, Washington,
to Camden, New Jersey, to begin an extensive conversion to a guided missile
heavy cruiser. This work, which took some four years, significantly changed
the ship's appearance. It included replacing her after eight-inch gun
turret and five-inch gun mount with two launchers for "Terrier"
anti-aircraft guided missiles, plus installation of an extensive suite
of radars and other electronics.
now the second ship of 13,300-ton Boston class, was recommissioned in
mid-June 1956. She operated in the Caribbean and Western Atlantic for
more than a year, during which time she carried President Dwight D. Eisenhower
to a conference at Bermuda, participated in the June 1957 International
Naval Review at Hampton Roads, Virginia, and made a Midshipmen training
cruise to Brazil. In September 1957 she took part in a major North Atlantic
Treaty Organization exercise in the northeastern Atlantic, then steamed
south to begin her first tour in the Mediterranean Sea. After returning
to the U.S. in March 1958, she served as ceremonial flagship for the selection
of the Unknown Soldier of World War II and transported Midshipmen on a
summer training cruise to Spain, Sweden and the Netherlands.
March 1960 Canberra began an eight-month cruise around the World, operating
with both the Seventh Fleet in Asian waters and with the Sixth Fleet in
the Mediterranean. Canberra made two six-month deployments to the US Sixth
Fleet in the Mediterranean Sea leaving Norfolk in February and returning
in September of 1962 and another in 1963. She took part in the Cuban Quarantine
in the fall of 1962 and, in October 1963, was transferred to the Pacific
Fleet. The Vietnam War soon became the focus of her final half-decade.
Conducting her first combat deployment since the World War II, she spent
the first several months of 1965 off Southeast Asia. A second Vietnam
deployment followed in February-June 1966 and a third lasted from October
1966 until April 1967. During these operations her six remaining eight-inch
guns were extensively employed for shelling enemy positions in both North
and South Vietnam.
duty dominated Canberra's next two war tours, in October 1967-April 1968
and from September 1968 to January 1969. This gunnery emphasis, plus the
outdated nature of her "Terrier" guided missile system, caused
her reclassification back to a heavy cruiser in May 1968, when she regained
her original hull number, CA-70. Canberra's missile launchers and guidance
radars were removed in 1969, following the end of her last Vietnam cruise.
Soon thereafter, in October 1969, she arrived at San Francisco, California,
to begin inactivation work. Decommissioned in early February 1970, USS
Canberra was stricken from the Naval Vessel Register in July 1978 and
sold for scrapping in July 1980.
One of the USS Canberra’s propellers was saved and is on display at the Los Angeles Maritime Museum in San Pedro, CA. The USS Canberra's (CAG-2) ship's bell, a distinctive emblem of her proud career, was presented to the Government and Commonwealth of Australia in Sept of 2001 to mark the 50th anniversary of the ANZUS Treaty Alliance. It is now on display at the Australian Maritime Museum in Sydney, Australia.
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