Launching the Great White Whale – SS Canberra

johnboy 13 September 2009

[First filed: September 12, 2009 @ 09:45]

Quite a few ships have borne the name “Canberra” in the short history of our city.

Among the most remarkable are the HMAS Canberra making up a big chunk of the iron in the Solomon Islands’ “Ironbottom Sound” (noted that there’s a Kongo class dreadnought down there as well, a rather larger chunk). There’s also the USS Canberra, the only ship in the long history of the US Navy to be named for a foreign capital.

But above is the recently YouTubed launching of the SS Canberra on 16 March 1960. She was a particularly advanced cruise liner with an unusual steam-electric drive system.

The SS Canberra shot to stardom when she was considered sufficiently disposable by the British to be used as a troop ship during the Falklands War (the thought of potentially losing the Queen Elizabeth II being too much for them).

But “The Great White Whale” avoided serious damage (perhaps thanks to looking rather like a hospital ship), and successfully disgorged waves of paras and marines on the unfortunate Argentine conscripts.

The footage of her return to Southampton is also quite spectacular:

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