United States Navy personnel from a newly commissioned U.S. combat ship paraded through Australia’s capital on Sunday, as the two allies carry out war games amid China’s military build-up in the region.
Personnel from the Independence-class littoral combat ship – named after a Royal Australian Navy cruiser that was sunk while supporting the U.S. Marine landings on Guadalcanal in 1942 – marched through Canberra on Sunday morning, cheered by locals.
“It’s such an honour and a privilege to be able to do this,” Captain of the USS Canberra Blue Crew, Will Ashley, told ABC television.
“It’s a culmination of not just the ship naming, of honouring the city, but the previous HMAS Canberra that was lost in World War Two.”
The Australian Capital Territory “Freedom of Entry” parade came after a commissioning ceremony for the USS Canberra on Saturday at an Australian naval base on Sydney Harbour.
The events coincide with the Talisman Sabre military exercises, held every two years between the U.S. and Australia, seen as a show of force and unity as China increasingly asserts power in the Indo-Pacific region.
The exercises, also involving 11 other nations, are taking place across Australia over two weeks and include mock land and air combat, as well as amphibious landings.
An Australian government review concluded in April that rivalry between the U.S. and China was defining the region and that the major-power competition had “potential for conflict”.
Under the AUKUS project announced in March, the United States and Britain have agreed to help Australia acquire a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines.