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US commissions first navy warship in Sydney amid China fears

USS Canberra warship commissioned in Sydney Australia on July 22, 2023.

The United States has commissioned a warship in Sydney, Australia amid fears of growing Chinese clout in the region.

The Independence-class littoral combat ship (LCS) – named USS Canberra – was commissioned on Saturday at a ceremony at an Australian naval base on Sydney Harbor, officially joining the US Navy’s active fleet.

This is the first time a US Navy vessel joined active service at a foreign port, as the two close allies step up their military ties in response to China’s expanding regional reach.

During the ceremony, US Ambassador to Australia, Caroline Kennedy, claimed that Americans and Aussies have forged a century-long military alliance in their efforts to maintain the West's global hegemony.

Furthermore, US Secretary of the Navy, Carlos Del Toro, who was at the ceremony, said the US-led West is facing new challenges in various domains which the allies needed to address.

"We, along with our allies and partners around the world, are facing significant challenges in every environment that we operate in, from the seabed to the stars as well as the cyber domain. Across the globe, it is apparent that the rules-based international order that for decades has fostered economic growth and underpinned the period of relative global stability is being again challenged," Del Toro said.

The ceremony comes amid biennial Talisman Sabre military exercises between the US and Australia, seen as a show of force against China.

Asked if he was worried about the presence of a Chinese surveillance ship off Australia’s northeast coast, Australian Defense Minister Richard Marles said, “I’m not.”

“I’ve been to Talisman Sabre now for many years and there is always, it seems, a ship from China, which is looking at this, and that’s fine,” he told Channel 9 television.

The biennial military exercise between the US and Australia, which is one of the largest joint military exercises in the world, takes place amid continued efforts by the Americans to lure more countries into joining the Indo-Pacific AUKUS security pact, amid escalating tensions between world powers.

The UK, New Zealand, Canada, France, Germany, Fiji, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Japan, and South Korea are reportedly taking part in the two-week exercises which include mock land and air combat, as well as amphibious landings.

The Independence-variant LCS warships are said to be fast, optimally-manned, mission-tailored, surface combatants that operate both close to shore and in open-ocean environments.

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