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USS Canberra (CAG 2)

- formerly PITTSBURGH -
- formerly CA 70, later CA 70 -
- decommissioned -


Initially named PITTSBURGH but later renamed CANBERRA, the ship was commissioned as a BALTIMORE - class heavy gun cruiser. Decommissioned in 1947, the CANBERRA was reclassified CAG 2 in January 1952 and subsequently underwent conversion to a guided missile heavy cruise at New York Shipbuilding Corp., Camden, N.J. Her after 8" turret was replaced by Terrier antiaircraft missile launchers and she was otherwise modernized. CANBERRA was recommissioned on June 15, 1956. Decommissioned on February 2, 1970, and stricken from the Navy list on July 31, 1978, the CANBERRA was sold for scrapping on July 15, 1980.

General Characteristics:Awarded: July 1, 1940
Keel laid: September 3, 1941
Launched: April 19, 1943
Commissioned: October 14, 1943
Decommissioned: February 2, 1970
Builder: Bethlehem Steel, Quincy, Mass.
Propulsion system: geared turbines; 120,000 shaft horsepower
Length: 673.5 feet (205.3 meters)
Beam: 69.9 feet (21.3 meters)
Draft: 24.94 feet (7.6 meters)
Displacement: approx. 17,500 tons full load
Speed: 33 knots
Aircraft: none
Armament: six 8-inch/55 caliber guns in two triple mounts, ten 5-inch/38 caliber guns in five twin mounts, eight 3-inch/50 caliber guns, two Mk-10 Terrier missile launchers
Crew: 80 officers and 1650


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Crew List:

This section contains the names of sailors who served aboard USS CANBERRA. It is no official listing but contains the names of sailors who submitted their information.


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History of USS CANBERRA:

CANBERRA was launched 19 April 1943 by Bethlehem Steel Co., Quincy, Mass.; sponsored by Lady Alice C. Dixon; and commissioned 14 October 1943, Captain A. R. Early in command.

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 - 1 April), then got underway from the same base 13 April for air strikes against Hollandia and Wakde 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 Satawan, rejoining the carriers for further strikes on Truk (29 April - 1 May).

After a raid against Marcus and Wake Islands in May 1944, CANBERRA sailed from Majuro 6 June to participate in the Marianas operation, including the far-flung Battle of the Philippine Sea, and the supporting air strikes and bombardment to neutralize bases in the Bonins. Following replenishment at Eniwetok, CANBERRA sailed 29 August for raids on the Palaus and the Philippines, and to back up the Morotai landings (15 - 16 September).

On 2 October 1944, CANBERRA sailed in company with TF 38 for air strikes on Okinawa and Formosa in anticipation of the forthcoming landings on Leyte. On 13 October, only 90 miles off Formosa, close to the enemy and far from safe harbor, CANBERRA was struck below her armor belt at the engineering spaces by an aerial torpedo which blew a huge, jagged hole in her side and killed 23 of her crew instantly. Before damage control could isolate the compartments, some 4,500 tons of water rushed in to flood her after fireroom 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 which 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 1945). CANBERRA returned to the west coast late in 1945 and was placed out of commission in reserve at Bremerton, Wash., 7 March 1947.

Reclassified CAG 2, 4 January 1952, CANBERRA was towed from Bremerton to New York Shipbuilding Corp., Camden, N.J., where she was converted to a guided missile heavy cruiser. Her after 8" turret was replaced by Terrier antiaircraft missile launchers and she was otherwise modernized. CANBERRA was recommissioned 15 June 1956, part of the sweeping revolution that is increasing the United States' seapower for peace. Local operations from her home port of Norfolk and Caribbean exercises were conducted until 14 March 1957 when she carried President Dwight D. Eisenhower to Bermuda for a conference with Prime Minister Harold MacMillan of Great Britain. On 12 June, she served as a reviewing ship for the International Naval Review in Hampton Roads, with Secretary of Defense Charles E. Wilson embarked. After a midshipman training cruise to the Caribbean and Brazil (13 June - 5 August), she departed Norfolk 3 September to participate in NATO Operation "Strikeback," sailing on to the Mediterranean for duty with the 6th Fleet before returning home 9 March 1958.

In the spring of 1958, CANBERRA was designated as ceremonial flagship for the selection of the unknown servicemen of World War II and Korea to be buried with honor at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery. The cruiser rendezvoused off the Virginia Capes 26 May with BLANDY (DD 943) carrying the Unknown of the European Theater, and BOSTON (CAG 1) carrying the unknowns of the Pacific Theater and the Korean War. After BLANDY had transferred her Unknown to BOSTON, all three caskets were highlined to CANBERRA, where the selection between the two Unknowns of World War II was made. The selected casket along with the Korean Unknown was returned to BLANDY for transportation to Washington, D.C., and the unselected Unknown was buried at sea with military honors by CANBERRA.

CANBERRA carried midshipmen on a training cruise to Europe (9 June - 7 August 1958), then after a brief visit to New York, entered Norfolk Naval Shipyard for overhaul.

Departing from the normal operating schedule, CANBERRA sailed from Norfolk on 3 March 1960 on a good-will cruise around the globe, flying the flag of Rear Admiral J. McN. Taylor, Commander of the Atlantic Fleet, Cruiser Force and Cruiser Division 6. On this cruise, he took his flagship to the South Pacific, where her namesake had sunk, where she had engaged the enemy in 1944 and where he had served. On this cruise CANBERRA operated with both the 7th and 6th Fleets as she sailed across the Pacific, through the Indian Ocean, Suez, the Mediterranean, and across the Atlantic. She arrived home in Norfolk on 24 October. For the remainder of the year she operated on the east coast.

In October 1963, the CANBERRA transfered to the Pacific Fleet and on 5 January 1965, left San Diego on her first Vietnam War Cruise during which she conducted PIRAZ duty off Da Nang.

CANBERRA's second Vietnam Cruise was conducted February - June 1966. During the cruise, the CANBERRA was also involved in naval gunfire support for ground troops in Vietnam. Back in San Diego 8 June 1966, the CANBERRA left on her third tour of duty off Vietnam 11 October 1966. After a visit to Australia in May, the CANBERRA returned to San Diego 1 June 1967.

CANBERRA's fourth Vietnam deployment took place 5 October 1967 - April 1968. At the end of this cruise, the CANBERRA was again reclassified as CA 70 after her Terrier missile system had previously been retired since it was considered obsolete against modern high performance aircraft.

The cruiser again operated off Vietnam September 1968 - January 1969. The CANBERRA was decommissioned 2 February 1970.

CANBERRA received seven battle stars for World War II service.


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USS CANBERRA Patch Gallery:

Med 1962-63


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USS CANBERRA as CA 70, before the guided missile conversion:

USS CANBERRA as CAG 2:



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