On 31 October 1997 P&O Line’s Canberra (1961) completed her final voyage.
Canberra was the last great British ocean liner designed for England-Australia service. Yet upon her 1960 launch, the Harland & Wolff-built Canberra was already obsolete in this role due to increasing jet travel competition declining emigration to Australia. In her new role as a cruise ship, however, she won many devoted fans.
Canberra’s finest moment came in 1982 when she was called into service as a troop and landing ship during the Falklands War. Canberra provided extended and courageous service at the conflict’s heart (companion troop transport Queen Elizabeth 2 was deemed to valuable to expose to direct danger and was kept far away from the main war zone). Canberra escaped the war with only minor damage; her white hull reportedly led Argentinean forces to mistake her for a hospital ship.
After the war, a battered and worn Canberra was overhauled. She then returned to cruising, her popularity enhanced by her Falklands service. But by the mid-1990s, advancing age, rising fuel costs and a new generation of mega-cruise ships led to her retirement. She was broken up in Pakistan in 1997.
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