Built in Glasgow, Scotland, HMAS Canberra was a Kent-class heavy cruiser like her sister ship, the Australia. The Australian Navy commissioned her in July 1928 and ordered her to go Australia. After World War II began in September 1939, she operated in Australian and Indian Ocean water. Like the Australia, the cruiser also went to the south Atlantic in 1940. In March 1941, the Canberra was one of the ships to sink the German support ship Ketty Brovig in the Indian Ocean.
After protecting British shipping near Australia, the Canberra was part of the invasion fleet in August 1942 that put Marines and supplies on Guadalcanal and Tulagi. During the early morning hours on August 9, Admiral Kimawa’s cruisers and destroyers came down the Slot and totally caught the American ships off Guadalcanal completely by surprise in the Battle of Savo Island. The Canberra took several hits from gunfire and sustained cripplingly fatal damage as her damage control parties struggled mightily to save her. Nevertheless, time ran out all too quickly. That fight proved fruitless when they had no choice but to scuttle her. She one of the first ships sunk in Iron Bottom Sound.
In August 1992 — almost 50 years after she sank, deep-sea robots found the cruiser’s wreckage on the sea bottom. She lies in 2,500 feet of water and stands upright on the bottom. There are many indications of shell hits and damage from fires amidships. Her 8-inch turrets are turned out to her port side — in the exact position they were as she briefly battled Mikawa’s cruisers.