From Verrazano Bridge
To B’klyn Bridge Park
By Raanan Geberer
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
BROOKLYN — Two important, historic maritime celebrations will come to New York harbor next month — and Brooklyn will play a role in both of them.
The first has only taken place sporadically — the last time in 2000. It’s Operation Sail, popularly known as OpSail 2012, featuring a visit of 17 “tall ships,” or traditional sailing ships, from around the world.
This year’s OpSail is being held to commemorate the bicentennial of the War of 1812 and the writing of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
OpSail 2012 begins on Monday, May 23, with a parade of ships from the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, which connects Brooklyn and Staten Island, to the George Washington Bridge.
Later in the day and into Sunday, May 27, the ships will be docked at Brooklyn, Staten Island and Manhattan and will be open to the public. Bill Armstrong, a spokesman for OpSail, said that the Brooklyn location will be at piers 7 and 8 near the southern end of Brooklyn Bridge Park.
Among the ships that will be taking part in this year's inaugural parade will be the Eagle (U.S. Coast Guard), Kri Dewaruci (Indonesia), Guayas (Ecuador), Cisne Branco (Brazil), Gloria (Colombia), Juan Sebastian de ElCano (Spain), Cuauhtemoc (Mexico), Etoille (France) and Belle Poule (France).
Armstrong stressed that OpSail is only held during special events, such as the Bicentennial in 1976, the anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ journey to America in 1992 and the millennium in 2000. “It’s a tremendous undertaking to coordinate,” he said.
OpSail was created by the late maritime historian Frank Braynard and IBM executive Nils Hansell during the Kennedy administration as a means of fostering global good will. The first OpSail took place in 1964 in conjunction with that year’s World’s Fair.
The other event, Fleet Week, will begin at the same time and also features a parade of ships under the Verrazano. It takes place every year and honors the U.S. Navy and the Marine Corps. The week’s activities feature extensive military demonstrations, fly-overs of military aircraft and the opportunity for the public to tour visiting ships.
By now, most New Yorkers are familiar with the yearly sight of white uniform - clad sailors walking around the city, taking photos and visiting bars and restaurants.
This year’s Fleet Week schedule has not yet been announced. But last year’s schedule shows a Coast Guard demonstration at Coney Island.