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Wind in their sails

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NEW YORK (AP) — One by one, hundreds of tall ships, sailboats and military vessels are making their way to New York Harbor for the city's nautical Fourth of July extravaganza.

The aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy joined the armada Sunday, dropping anchor near the Statue of Liberty.

Some 150 tall ships from 23 countries and 25 naval ships from 14 nations are expected for an 11-mile military review and tall ship parade down the Hudson River on Tuesday. President Clinton plans to review the military ships from the missile cruiser USS Hue City, then board the USS Kennedy for the tall ships' "parade of sail."

"There's no question that this will be the largest assemblage ever of tall ships and naval vessels," said Greg Perrin, an organizer.

As the USS Kennedy sailed into port, the skies over the harbor were abuzz with helicopters, and white-uniformed sailors joined the throng of seafarers taking part in Operation Sail 2000 and International Naval Review 2000.

The Hue City steamed up the harbor late Sunday, bound for a Hudson River pier near the Intrepid, a famed World War II carrier turned military museum.

About 150 miles to the northeast, in the seaport in Mystic, Conn., a replica of the 19th-century slave ship Amistad set sail for the New York Harbor celebration on its maiden voyage.

"It's a joy to sail," said the ship's captain, William Pinkney. "It doesn't take a lot of wind to get her moving. That she is responsive is what you want a sailboat to be."

It was aboard the original Amistad in 1839 that 53 captive Africans, headed for a life of slavery, revolted and eventually won their freedom after a long legal battle in Connecticut. The 129-foot long replica was built to spread the message of cooperation, leadership and perseverance that can be drawn from the story of its namesake.

While the Amistad and other stately tall ships are the celebration's main attraction, Navy officials had hoped to also grab the spotlight with the largest naval review in history. Sixty-one nations were invited to take part, but officials now say this year's gathering isn't likely to surpass the record 25 navies represented at the 1986 Statue of Liberty centennial.

Naval ships from Canada, Ireland, Britain, Ukraine, India, Greece, France, Italy, Brazil, South Africa, Singapore, Turkey and the United States are expected, said U.S. Navy Capt. Woody Berzins, a spokesman for the International Naval Review.

The weeklong event includes tours of some of the ships and a Fourth of July fireworks display billed as the largest ever: 60 tons of explosives launched from barges, with a grand finale blast planned over the Statue of Liberty.

On the Net:

International Naval Review: www.inr2000.navy.mil