by Jeni Bone
It might be the once in a life-time International Fleet Review this weekend in Sydney, and it might be that it is the Navy's signature commemorative event for 2013, but it's a fair bet that the 16 Australian and international tall ships gracing the harbour will steal the limelight.
Tall ships guaranteed to steal the thunder
Despite uncertainties about the weather, more than 1.5 million people are expected to crowd the foreshores for a spectacle not seen since the Bicentennial in 1988 - and that didn't have the number of tall ships.
The International tall ships hail from the Netherlands, Britain, New Zealand and Canada.
Planned in partnership with the NSW State Government and the City of Sydney, approximately 40 warships as well as the 16 tall ships will participate in this historic event. The RAN Sea Power Conference 2013 and Pacific 2013 International Maritime Congress and Exposition, are also scheduled to take place at Darling Harbour from 7 October 2013 to coincide with the IFR.
In late 2011, the Chief of Navy Vice Admiral Ray Griggs, AO, CSC, RAN extended an invitation to over 50 nations to send a warship and/or tall ship to participate in an International Fleet Review (IFR) to be held in Sydney from 3 - 11 October 2013. The Review is being held to commemorate the centenary of the first entry of the Royal Australian Navy's Fleet into Sydney.
RAN and visiting warships rendezvoused in Jervis Bay, NSW on 1 October 2013 to conduct final preparations and briefings.
The formal aspects of the IFR commenced with all tall ships entering Sydney Harbour yesterday, Thursday 3 October 2013 and all warships entering today, Friday 4 October 2013 - exactly 100 years after the first RAN Fleet entry.
To mark this historic occasion, Her Excellency the Honourable Quentin Bryce AC CVO, Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia will welcome the Fleet from Bradley’s Head, and officially review the fleet onboard HMAS Leeuwin on Saturday 5 October, as part of the Ceremonial Fleet Review. The Review will include a moving line of seven RAN ships to further symbolise the 1913 entry.
The day's events are also likely to feature formation fly-pasts by fixed and rotary wing aircraft, naval displays and demonstrations, naval gun salutes and naval band performances, and will culminate in a spectacular evening fireworks and lightshow on the harbour.
Other activities being planned to occur during the week long celebrations, include a combined naval march through the Sydney CBD, ships open to the public, inter-navy sporting competitions, naval memorial and religious services, and a range of community and cultural events.
The tall ships will depart on Thursday 10 October 2013, mostly for Auckland, followed by the fleet departing on Friday 11 October 2013 to participate in Exercise TRITON CENTENARY in the East Australian Exercise Areas (EAXA).
The IFR is planned to be similar in scale and public impact to that experienced during the RAN 75th Anniversary in 1986 and the Bicentennial Naval Salute in 1988.
The full program of events can be seen at www.navy.gov.au/ifr/events