Huffpost New York

Australian Navy In NY Harbor (PHOTOS)

Posted: Updated:


NEW YORK (AP) -- The United States and Australia are celebrating a friendship at sea that has lasted more than 100 years.

On Sunday, two Australian warships arrived in New York to commemorate the relationship between the two nations, naval allies in every major conflict since World War I.

Click through the slideshow for photos:

The HMAS Sydney and HMAS Ballarat docked at Pier 88 on Manhattan's West Side, where encounters of a very personal kind also were celebrated.

"We met on a tour of Europe last month, and we hit it off big time!" said American college student Masha Seltsman as she and a fellow student hugged four young members of the Royal Australian Navy. "We're young and we love to party."

The two young women from Philadelphia planned to take the four sailors on a tour of New York, including the World Trade Center terrorist attack site.

The seamen were among 400 men and women on board the warships that sailed into New York Harbor from Halifax, Nova Scotia, berthing on the Hudson River opposite the USS Intrepid, a decommissioned aircraft carrier.

The Australian frigates will be open to the public for tours on Tuesday before leaving Thursday for Baltimore and Norfolk, then Trinidad and Tobago, as part of a six-month, round-the-world deployment involving diplomatic visits and joint exercises with foreign navies.

In May off the coast of Yemen, the Sydney and the Ballarat responded to a distress call from a merchant ship under attack from Somali pirates who fled after the Australian frigates and a helicopter from the Sydney appeared.

The idea for the ships' U.S. visit came from Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, who said it is symbolic of the two nations' future challenges as allies.

The partnership started in 1907, when Australian Prime Minister Alfred Deakin invited U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt to send the American so-called Great White Fleet of 16 ships to his country. Australia was then trying to establish its navy as a significant force independent of the British Empire.

"The Americans went behind the backs of the British to send the fleet to Australia," Tom Harley, Deakin's great-grandson, told a news conference Sunday aboard the HMAS Ballarat. "The British were not amused, they were not pleased."

Harley was joined by both ships' commanding officers, as well as the Australian Fleet Commander, Rear Admiral Nigel Coates, and Roosevelt's great-grandson, Theodore Roosevelt IV.

Last year, exactly 100 years after the 16 American battleships reached Australian shores, the USS John S McCain and the USS Shoup sailed to Australia.

Get HuffPost New York On Facebook and Twitter!

Suggest a correction

Around the Web

Uncovering the Secrets Beneath the Surface of the New York Harbor ...