HMA Ships Sydney and Ballarat, will arrive in New York on Sunday for a four-day visit, as part of a round-the-world trip to promote Australia.
New York is giving the Australians the VIP treatment, inviting them to promote the tour on the ‘Astrovision Screen’ in Times Square.
The Australians have been given not one, but two, chances to star on the coveted big screen: There will be a 15-second segment promoting the ship’s open day, which will be seen four times every hour for the duration of the four-day visit; as well as a 30-minute live feed of a photo shoot with members of both ships’ companies in Times Square, which will be seen by around one-and-a-half million people.
HMAS Sydney’s Commanding Officer, Captain Peter Leavy, says the airtime was unexpected but most welcome. “This is a great honour and a fantastic opportunity for both the Navy and the Australian people,” Captain Leavy said. “The last time a RAN warship visited New York was HMAS Hobart in 1976.”
The visit will also include a VIP tour of Ground Zero and the Tribute Centre, where both ships’ Commanding Officers will join Commander Australian Fleet, Rear Admiral Nigel Coates AM, RAN and other dignitaries. Rear Admiral Coates will lay a wreath on behalf of the Royal Australian Navy in memory of those that lost their lives on 11 September, 2001.
New York marks the first of three Great White Fleet reciprocal port visits for Sydney and Ballarat. Following New York, the ships will visit Baltimore and Norfolk before visiting the Caribbean.
The Australian frigates will be open to the public at the Manhattan Cruise Terminal at Pier 88 on 21 July, providing Americans with the chance to mix with some Aussies.
Northern Trident 09 is a six-month international deployment aimed at supporting Australian Government priorities in Western Europe, North America, and West and North Asian countries.
New York | July 20, 2009
IT is rare for foreign warships to enter New York Harbour, sail past the Statue of Liberty and come to rest alongside the Manhattan cityscape.
But last night, Australian warships HMAS Sydney and HMAS Ballarat had a point to make during a triumphant entrance. New York will be their temporary home for four days.
On the giant Astrovision screen in Times Square, a 15-second advertisement inviting New Yorkers to an open day for the ships at Pier 88 will play four times every hour for the duration of the stay. Some of the ships' 400 crew will be seen on the Times Square screen during a 30-minute live feed.
Kevin Rudd hopes the visit of the two Anzac-class guided missile frigates will be a powerful reminder of Australia's bond with the US.
The visit is much more, though. It is steeped in history, and rates as Australia's reciprocal way of marking the centenary of former US president Theodore Roosevelt's Great White Fleet of 16 battleships that sailed into Sydney Harbour in 1908.
Australia's chief naval attache in Washington, Commodore Vince Di Pietro, said: "The Prime Minister is keen to underpin the strength of the relationship and say, 'You come to our place, and we'll come to yours'."
When the Great White Fleet came to Australia, up to 500,000 people lined Sydney Harbour to get a glimpse. They flocked from faraway country towns. Named because they were painted white, the fleet had set out on Mr Roosevelt's orders to demonstrate US naval might, especially to an emerging rival, Japan.
For Australia's then prime minister, Alfred Deakin, an advocate of creating an independent navy and not relying on the British admiralty, the arrival of the US fleet provided political ammunition. Three years later the Australian navy was born.
The US last year commemorated the 1908 centenary by sending two battleships to Sydney, the USS McCain and USS Shoup. Now it is Australia's turn - the last warship to visit New York was the HMAS Hobart in 1976.
At a later reception on board the Sydney, the great grandsons of Deakin and Roosevelt are to comment on the visit and their ancestors' ambitions.
Phil Scanlan, Australia's consul-general in New York, said Mr Rudd had initiated the "once-in-a-century visit". It was a fitting response to the US's Great White Fleet celebrations last year, he said.
The ships entered New York Harbour accompanied by USS Mahan, and moored at the Manhattan cruise terminal at Pier 88.
Australian forces have served with US forces in every significant military conflict over the past 100 years.
HMAS Sydney's commanding officer, Captain Peter Leavy, said the airtime for the Australian navy at Times Square was "a great honour and a fantastic opportunity".
HMAS Sydney, is the fourth ship to carry the name. The first HMAS Sydney sank the German cruiser Emden in World War I. The second, which sank three enemy ships in World War II, was later sunk with all 645 hands lost during a battle with the German raider Kormoran, which also sank during the battle.
HMAS Ballarat, launched in 2002, is the second to bear the name.