This service remembers the Battle of Savo Island and the loss of HMAS Canberra.
Early on 9 August 1942, the heavy cruiser HMAS Canberra was part of a force protecting the landings on Guadalcanal. Alongside several US Navy ships, she was patrolling south of Savo Island when the Japanese 8th Fleet took them by surprise. Her first move was to protect the Allied transport ships and open fire, but HMAS Canberra was hit within seconds of spotting the Japanese force. 24 large-calibre rounds hit within three minutes, destroying both boiler rooms and knocking out power to the entire ship. Damaged beyond repair, she was sunk later that day by the US destroyer Ellet.
The battle saw 84 of Canberra's sailors killed, with another 109 wounded. In honour of her valour, the US Navy named a cruiser the USS Canberra. This was the first US ship named after a foreign ship and remains the only one to be named after a foreign city.
Reviewed 17 January 2022