Honourable Prime Minister Sogavare I am privileged to join you and everyone who is here this morning in the grounds of this memorial.
We gather to remember the 84 Australians who perished when HMAS Canberra was lost at sea on this day 74 years ago.
We also commemorate the service of HMAS Canberra and her crew during the Second World War.
What an honour to come together, not far from HMAS Canberra’s final resting place, in commemoration of the service and sacrifice of our brave countrymen who lost their lives fighting to protect their country, their loved ones and their comrades.
My husband proudly served in the Royal Australian Navy for 35 years. And as we honour their sacrifices, let us also take time to remember their loved ones who supported these service men and who were left to mourn those who did not come back.
We are grateful to be joined by so many of you this morning to honour what was one of Australia’s most powerful World War II ships and her fallen crew.
I also welcome Ambassador Catherine Ebert-Gray and Ambassador Kinichi Kimiya whose countrymen were also engaged in that devastating battle all those years ago in August 1942. And Prime Minister, thank you so much for honouring us with your presence here this morning.
I would like to acknowledge, in particular, Mr Bill Quinn, who has travelled from Australia to be with us today.
Mr Quinn fought in the Battle of Guadalcanal, serving aboard HMAS Australia and I know that you had many friends serving on the HMAS Canberra at that time.
We also acknowledge the sacrifices of your valiant compatriots and we are honoured that you are here to share this occasion with us as friends and partners committed to a peaceful and prosperous region.
Such was HMAS Canberra’s distinction that its name has been passed on to the most recently commissioned addition to the Royal Australian Navy.
I would also like to acknowledge the role that Solomon Islanders played, an important part, notably in the surveillance of their islands.
The new HMAS Canberra, commissioned in 2014, is the largest ship ever built for the Australian Navy and – just two years into service – is building on the Pacific legacy of its predecessor.
HMAS Canberra and its crew played a significant role in the relief efforts following Tropical Cyclone Winston in Fiji.
From HMAS Canberra, Australian Defence personnel delivered much-needed humanitarian supplies and made crucial repairs to schools, hospitals and community centres in the immediate aftermath of the disaster.
And while we hope the Pacific is spared from further disasters of that scale, Australia is proud to have been able to call on the HMAS Canberra and her highly-skilled crew to help a Pacific neighbour in need.
I do hope to be in Fiji next week when HMAS Canberra returns there.
John and I had a good friend, Aubrey King, who also served on the HMAS Australia during the battle of Savo Island. And now, having visited Honiara, the battle ground where the first HMAS Canberra was lost, I will have a deeper appreciation of the history and the bravery of the people like Bill and Aubrey. And the legacy that proudly lives on through the Canberra crew and their memory.
On behalf of the Australian Government and our High Commissioner in the Solomon Islands, can I welcome you all here today to remember the HMAS Canberra and the 84 Australian’s lost here 74 years ago.
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