ex HMAS Canberra History & Specs

Dive into history on the ex HMAS Canberra FFG-02

From Warship to Second to None Divers' Playground

HMAS Canberra FFG 02 in 2002
HMAS Canberra FFG 02 bow on
© Department of Defence

Launched in 1 December 1978, the HMAS Canberra FFG-02 was built by Todd Pacific Shipyards Corporation in Seattle, Washington, USA. The second of six similar FFG-7 Class Guided Missile Frigates, she was commissioned on 21 March 1981. The HMAS Canberra and her five sister frigates (HMA Ships Adelaide, Sydney, Darwin, Melbourne and Newcastle), were the first Royal Australian Navy (RAN) ships to be powered by gas turbines for their main propulsion.

The HMAS Canberra's role was to operate with other maritime forces to help keep the world's sea lanes open and free by providing protection for military and merchant convoys. To achieve this she was specifically designed to simultaneously counter the threats posed by submarines, air, surface and subsurface launched missiles and enemy warships. Accordingly, the ship was fitted with long range radar, sonar and electronic surveillance sensors which were co-ordinated by high speed computers to provide data for the ship's weapon systems.

The weapons systems of the HMAS Canberra FFG-02 included shipborne and helicopter borne torpedo delivery systems, surface to air and surface to surface guided missiles, a rapid firing gun and electronic decoy devices. This weapons fit was intended to provide an in-depth defence for both the ship and the force or convoy she was protecting.

The HMAS Canberra was powered by two computer controlled gas turbine engines operating through a controllable pitch propellor to give the ship high manoeuvrability and the ability to be "on-line" in less than one eight of the time required by steam turbine ships.

Video montage of HMAS Canberra FFG-02 photos

More History

HMAS Canberra from the rear
HMAS Canberra FFG-02 stern on
© Department of Defence

The HMAS Canberra FFG-02 was the third ship to bear this name. The original was a RAN Heavy Cruiser, which served from 1928 until she was sunk at the Battle of Savo Island in 1942. The second was a United States Navy Heavy Cruiser, USS Canberra, named in honour of the first, which served from 1944 to 1978 filling roles as a Heavy Cruiser and later, a Guided Missile Heavy Cruiser and ceremonial flagship.

You can learn more about the HMAS Canberra's history, the Royal Australian Navy personnel who served in HMAS Canberra FFG-02 until she was decommissioned at the Fleet Base West, Rockingham, Western Australia on the 12th of November 2005, at www.hmascanberra.com.

In 2006, VARS began its campaign to sink the ex HMAS Canberra FFG-02 off of Victoria, Australia as an artificial reef and wreck dive site.

Once it has been prepared and scuttled in Victoria, we expect the ex HMAS Canberra FFG-02 to be protected by Australian and Victorian law so as to provide endless enjoyment for divers. Coral will eventually grow all around the wreck and many sea creatures will come to call the wreck home. Resting in temperate waters near Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, the ex HMAS Canberra Reef should be a marvelous place where scuba divers can explore naval history in an underwater world.

HMAS Canberra FFG-02 Specifications

Ship Specifications
Built by Todd Pacific Shipyards Corporation
Seattle, Washington, USA
Keel laid 1 March 1978
Launched 1 December 1978
Commissioned 21 March 1981
Launching lady Lady Marjorie Tange
Length 138.1 metres (453 feet)
Beam 14.3 metres (47 feet)
Draught 7.5 metres (25 feet)
Displacements 4,100 tonne (4,519 short tons)
Ship's Company Approximately 210
Armament Mark 13 Guided Missile Launcher
- Harpoon anti-surface missile
- Standard anti-aircraft missile
Combat systems 76mm rapid fire gun,
Harpoon anti-ship missiles,
Standard surface to air missiles,
Phalanx Mk15 close-in weapon system,
2 triple anti-submarine torpedo tubes for Mk 46 torpedoes
Propulsion Two General Electric LM 2500 Gas Turbines developing 30,000 kilowatts (40,231 horsepower)
Two 270 kilowatts (362 horsepower) Electric Drive Auxiliary Propulsion Units
Single Controllable Reversible Pitch Propellor
Maximum Speed More than 30 knots (56 kpm)
Range 7,250 kilometres (4,505 miles) at 20 knots (37 kpm)
Aircraft carried Two S-70B Sea Hawk helicopters
Motto "For Queen And Country"
Crest HMAS Canberra Crest

See the dives available on the wreck at our ex HMAS Canberra dive sites page for extensive descriptions of the ex HMAS Canberra FFG-02 and her many dives.

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