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. The liner’s white hull reportedly led Argentinean forces to mistake her for a hospital ship.
Post-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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