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Ambassador Kennedy Speech: USS Canberra Commissioning
July 22, 2023

Transcript of a speech by Ambassador Caroline Kennedy at the Commissioning of USS Canberra

Royal Australian Navy Fleet Base East, Sydney

Saturday, 22 July 2023


Good Morning.


Governor-General Hurley, Governor Beazley – thank you for welcoming the American Navy to this beautiful country and this historic harbor.


Deputy Prime Minster Marles, Premier Minns, Ambassador Rudd, General Campbell, Secretary Moriarty, Vice-Admiral Hammond– It is an honor to represent President Biden as the United States Ambassador to Australia at this historic moment: the first commissioning of a US Navy ship in another country.


I can’t think of a better symbol of the strength of our alliance.


I am especially honored to be here with Secretary of the Navy del Toro, and Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Gilday. Their leadership and their commitment to the alliance has made transformational change possible, and they work every day to keep our sailors safe and ready.

A special thank-you to Senator the Honorable Marise Payne- the ship’s sponsor, with admiration all you have done for the ship, her crew and for your country.


And for all those watching from home today, we hope you are so proud. Congratulations and we wish you were here too!


I know from experience that these gatherings are much more than a ceremony- they offer the chance to reflect on the values that the ship represents- the values of our alliance: protecting freedom, preserving the stability and prosperity of the rules- based order, and doing the daily work of building a more just and peaceful world.


That is what Americans and Australians have been doing together for more than 100 years. Our parents and grandparents forged this alliance, through shared sacrifice and service.


I wouldn’t be here today if not for the Australian coastwatcher who arranged my father’s WW2 rescue after a Japanese destroyer sunk his PT boat.



A few days after I arrived in Australia , I met the last 2 surviving Coastwatchers, and travelled to the Solomon Islands to thank the daughter of the Solomon Scout who first spotted the crew and alerted the Australian.


My father’s story became part of history but there are countless other Americans and Australians who have depended on eachother, loved eachother, sacrificed for one another and fought together for a better future.


Our lives may be shaped by the historical forces of our time , but it is the connections we make to one another that define us and give our lives meaning. Now it is our turn to carry this alliance forward for our own children and grandchildren.


Tomorrow marks one year since I arrived in Australia. In that time, I have already seen our nations change the future. The AUKUS agreement will foster innovation and promote regional stability. The smartest students in both our countries will collaborate on advanced technology and manufacturing – its already happening.



And the US and Australia are partnering to combat climate change and accelerate the world’s clean energy transition. In fact, in May, President Biden and Prime Minister Albanese announced that Climate and Clean Energy are the third pillar of the alliance.


I can think of no better symbol of this shared future than the USS Canberra. Built by American workers at an Australian company in Mobile, Alabama, her crew will always include a Royal Australian Navy sailor, and from today forward, she will proudly display a star-spangled kangaroo .


In closing, we pray that God will keep the USS Canberra safe and we wish for her – Fair Winds and Following Seas.


Thank you.