USS Canberra (CA-70)
Heavy Cruiser / Missile Cruiser Warship
The USS Canberra survived World War 2, the Vietnam War and the Cold War as two different class of fighting ship.
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The USS Canberra was a United States naval warship that was put into action in the middle years of World War 2 and survived long enough to take part in some of the most critical years of the Cold War and the Vietnam conflict. The vessel was modestly armed and was fielded initially as part of the Baltimore-class cruiser family. Later, the Canberra was converted to accept the Terrier surface-to-air missile system and had her designation changed from CA-70 to CAG-2 to represent her as a guided missile cruiser, now part of the Boston-class of warships.
The Canberra's profile is typical of ships in the class with a large superstructure dominating the design. The superstructure is complimented with masts containing sensors and arrays and is surrounded by a battery of armament which originally consisted of 9 x 8" main guns and 12 x 5" cannons. This was altered when the Canberra became a guided missile cruiser and as such she was now armed with 6 x 8" main guns, 10 x 5" cannons and 12 x 3" cannons along with her supply of 2 x Terrier missile launchers for anti-aircraft defense. In any case, the World War 2-era vessel was now making a transition to the Cold War-era where missiles would begin to take the place of cannon as a vessels main armament. Her main guns were held in turrets with two forward and one aft with three guns to an emplacement. The addition of the Terrier system deleted the aft gun turret and its three guns.
While in service during World War 2, her actions primarily kept her located in the central Pacific. In 1944, she served as part of US Task Force 58 for the Battle of Philippine Sea and took part in the battle for Truk eventually succumbing to severe damage inflicted by a Japanese torpedo in the Battle of Formosa off Okinawa in June of that year. Her damage was such that her war days in the conflict were numbered and the USS Canberra was decommissioned following the war in 1947 and put into reserve.
With the arrival of the Cold War, the USS Canberra (CA-70) was back in service, now undergoing conversion to become a guided missile heavy cruiser. This conversion forced her from her Baltimore-class classification to the Boston-class family where she joined the USS Boston as the modernized CAG-2. The vessel was made ready in time to take part in the deterrent blockading actions in the Cuban Missile Crisis. Some time later, Canberra would see herself deployed several times in support of the Vietnam conflict where, by this time, her Terrier missile systems were wholly outdated though her common guns were put to good use as she shelled inland targets and took part in the TET Offensive. With the war over and her fighting years behind her, the USS Canberra returned home with her old CA-70 designation now reinstated and was officially decommissioned in 1970. Her parts were unceremoniously sold for scrapping in 1980.
The USS Canberra was first ordered in 1940 and laid down in 1941 by Bethel Steel Company Fore River Shipyard. She was launched in 1943 and commissioned later that same year. She fought under the motto of "Can-Do Kangaroo" and was named in honor of an Australian cruiser - the HMAS Canberra, a vessel lost to the sea after taking torpedo damage from Japanese forces at the Battle of Savo Island. Incidentally, the USS America remains the only United States Navy vessel to be named after an existing foreign ship. In response, the Australian Navy commissioned the destroyer HMAS Bataan as a tribute to the Battle of Bataan.