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Vintage vessels gala on the 4th of July
July 5, 2000
NEW YORK (AP) - The city's picturesque harbor teemed with thousands of vessels, from oceangoing schooners and destroyers to small, tiny speedboats in the run-up to a Fourth of July nautical spectacular.
About two dozen warships anchored in an 11-mile (18-kilometer) line Monday as part of only the sixth International Naval Review in history. Thirteen countries were represented and dozens of other sailing craft were nearby.
"I love it. They're beautiful," said Pauline Allen, who spent her lunch hour watching the so-called tall ships and navy vessels arrive for Operation Sail 2000, billed as the greatest event in maritime history.
On Tuesday, the "parade of sail" was to feature about 30 large wind-powered ships from 19 countries entering New York Harbor. Most, like the Coast Guard's square-rigger Eagle, are government-owned training vessels for sailors. President Bill Clinton was to be on hand for the ceremony, as were thousands of onlookers on shore in New York and New Jersey.
Among the armada was the 129-foot (39-meter) schooner Amistad, a replica of the ship made famous when its slave cargo of 53 Africans revolted in 1839. Launched March 25 in Mystic, Connecticut, it will return to New Haven, Connecticut, where it will be a floating history lesson for schoolchildren.
The Coast Guard predicted as many as 70,000 craft will be in the harbor this week for a celebration that will be capped by what organizers say will be the biggest fireworks display ever.
New York is the main port of call in the tall ships' nine-week coastal cruise. The summer tour, the fifth since Opsail began, started May 19 in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
The parade left Baltimore early Thursday, led by the 170-foot (51-meter) long Pride of Baltimore II, with cannons firing. After leaving New York, its ships are to stop in New London, Connecticut, and Portland, Maine.
Operation Sail was established by President John F. Kennedy in 1961 to promote cultural exchanges. The first OpSail celebrated New York City's World's Fair in 1964; others coincided with milestones such as the 1976 U.S. bicentennial and the 500th anniversary in 1992 of Christopher Columbus' arrival in the Americas.
Secretary of the Navy Richard Danzig, who toured the Naval Review command post on a Hudson River pier, called OpSail 2000 "a wonderful opportunity for the city of New York and the Navy to combine together to display the nature of sea power."
"It captures a sense of what extraordinary history this has through the old ships, the tall ships," Danzig said Monday. "At the same time it emphasizes the extraordinary present-day relevance of naval power. Seventy percent of the globe is water, and we're able to operate from the sea everywhere. The Navy really is everywhere for America."
On the Net:
OpSail 2000: http://www.opsail2000event.org
International Naval Review: http://www.inr2000.navy.mil