SYDNEY, July 22 (Portal) – The United States commissioned a warship in Sydney, Australia on Saturday. It was the first time a US Navy ship had entered active service in a foreign port as the two close allies intensify military ties in response to China’s growing regional reach.
The Independence-class littoral battleship – named after a Royal Australian Navy cruiser sunk during the US Navy landings at Guadalcanal in 1942 – was commissioned at a ceremony at an Australian naval base in Sydney Harbour, and officially joined the US Navy’s active fleet.
“Australians can be proud that this ship, designed by local industry in Western Australia and named after HMAS Canberra, is entering service here for the first time in US Navy history,” Australian Defense Minister Marles said in a statement.
The US ship’s entry into Australian waters reflects “our shared commitment to upholding the rules-based order,” he added.
The ceremony comes as part of the biannual Talisman Saber military exercises between the US and Australia, which are seen as a show of strength and unity as China increasingly asserts its power in the Indo-Pacific.
The exercises, held at various locations across Australia for two weeks, will include mock land and air combat and amphibious landings.
In addition to Australia and the US, forces from Canada, Fiji, France, Germany, Indonesia, Japan, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, the Republic of Korea, Tonga and the UK are also participating.
As part of the war games, the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) launched a surface-to-surface missile off the east coast of Australia at Jervis Bay, about 195 km (121 miles) south of Sydney on Saturday.
Australia’s Ministry of Defense said the exercise was “the first time the JGSDF has tested the capability in Australia”.
Germany is participating for the first time with 210 paratroopers and marines, thereby strengthening its presence in the region.
As part of the AUKUS project announced in March, the United States and Britain have agreed to help Australia acquire a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines.
Before that, in the early 2030s, the US is to sell Australia three US Virginia-class nuclear submarines, with an option for Australia to buy two more.
Reporting by Sam McKeith in Sydney; Edited by Stephen Coates
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