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NSW: Biggest meeting of warships on harbour since Bicentenary

12 Mar 2009 8:23 PM

SYDNEY, March 12 AAP - Sydneysiders will on Friday be treated to the largest show of naval force since the Bicentenary celebrations, when 17 ships anchor east of the Opera House as part of a fleet review.

HMAS Sydney will lead the fleet's spectacular entry through the heads at 7.30am (AEDT), before senior commanders inspect the warships at 9.30am.

At 10am, NSW Governor Marie Bashir and Rear Admiral Nigel Coates will then depart from the Man O'War Steps aboard the Admiral's barge, and conduct a review of the warships anchored east of the city.

The Sydney will give a 21 gun salute at 10.01am, followed by a flypast from a navy Sea King and Sea Hawk helicopters, and Squirrel training helicopters.

The naval review, which also involves HMAS Kanimbla, Darwin, Newcastle and Ballarat, will be the largest meeting of warships on Sydney Harbour since 1988.

The ceremony is the culmination of a six-week training exercise held off the east cost of Australia.

The event is expected to attract a large number of recreational boats to the harbour, and while NSW Ports and Waterways Minister Joe Tripodi encouraged them to enjoy the occasion, he asked skippers to take care on the waterway.

"I am sure many boat owners will take this opportunity to go out onto the harbour and enjoy the occasion and show their appreciation of our Navy Service men and women," Mr Tripodi said in a statement.

"A boat can provide a wonderful view for events such as this but it is essential all skippers follow the rules for safe navigation."

On Saturday, the ceremony will continue with about 4,600 navy personnel marching through the centre Sydney.

The Freedom of Entry ceremony begins at The Rocks at 9am (AEDT), with the naval personnel marching south down George St to Liverpool St.

As part of the ceremony, Governor-General Quentin Bryce will meet the Commander of the fleet, Rear Admiral Nigel Coates, before the march begins.

Rear Admiral Coates will then be challenged by NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione, before being presented with a scroll giving the navy the right to enter the city.

The march will be the largest number of military personnel marching through Sydney since World War II.