Ship Number
Vessel Type
Passenger Ship
Musgrave Yard
Slip Number
Launch Date
March 16, 1960
Launched By
Dame Pattie Menzies
May 19, 1961
Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Co
45270 grt
BP Length
740 feet
102 feet
No. of Screws
Speed (approx)
27.5 knots
Turbo-Electric 68,000 S.H.P.
Official No.

Launched on an overcast, wet and blustery day, Canberra left the slipway at Harland and Wolff's Belfast shipyard on 17th March 1958, with the cheers of shipyard workers ringing in her ears and Dame Pattie Menzies, her sponsor beaming with pride - and the knowledge that this magnificent ship would soon be making her way to the sunshine - and her own homeland of Australia. At a cost of £17 million, she was P&O's most expensive ship to date, and the most technically advanced ship of her age
Canberra: 45,733 grt; 819 x 103; Harland & Wolff, Belfast, 1961; Australia service; 596 First class, 1,616 Tourist class passengers;
At 45000 gross tons, the Canberra, delivered in 1961, was the largest passenger liner to be built in the UK since the Queen Elizabeth. She adopted a new turbo-electric propulsion system with distinctive twin funnels. To reduce topside weight, her superstructure was made from 1000 tons of aluminium which also improved stability and permitted a greater volume of public rooms to be available 'up top'.  
The Canberra sailed to her place of final demolition under her own steam. She arrived off Karachi on October 28th. The scrappers had decided to beach the ship and then cut her up as she lay. On October 31st, the Canberra beached herself at almost full speed, and the actual breaking up could soon commence.  Things did not go quite as planned, though. The scrappers had expected to cut the ship up in a matter of three months, but it would take them well over a full year. Nevertheless, the Canberra was finally completely gone by the end of 1998. All that is left now, are the memories of The Great White Whale.