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CNN Today

Tall Ships Pass as New Citizens Join Country

Aired July 4, 2000 - 1:06 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATER, CNN ANCHOR: And about 30,000 New York City police officers are on the streets today. Some of them watching a huge display in the New York Harbor.

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Organizers say OpSail 2000 is the largest fleet of sailing vessels and naval warships in history.

CNN's Gary Tuchman joins us with a look at the impressive floating parade.

Hi, Gary.

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Kyra and hello Lou.

That's right, if you've just turned on the TV, you're about to get a look, according to authorities, at the largest gathering of boats and ships ever in one place. Right now we sit on the flight deck of USS John F. Kennedy aircraft carrier, one of 12 naval aircraft carriers in the U.S. fleet. And this is where President Bill Clinton is right now. He has been reviewing the tall ships that have been passing us by for the last hour and a half.

One hundred fifty tall ships from 23 countries as part of OpSail 2000 have been coming by. The ships mostly are from the United States, but they are also are from Canada and countries like Columbia, and Spain, Indonesia has a ship here, Brazil, Belgium. Many countries are participating in OpSail 2000.

But OpSail 2000 is just one of the events taking place today the other one is called the International Naval Review. For only the sixth time in history, other nations have brought their military ships to U.S. waters, in this case the New York Harbor and the Hudson River, to show them off as part of the naval review. And President Clinton reviewed those also. Thirteen nations are participating in that.

President Clinton was aboard the USS Hue City before he was aboard this aircraft carrier, that's a Aegis-type cruiser. And the Hue City is the only U.S. ship named after a Vietnam War battle. Well, after he was done with that review, the president then came to the JFK. He had a 21-gun salute from the 5,000-plus crew members aboard this huge aircraft carrier. And he came aboard with his wife, his daughter, and Attorney General Janet Reno. They swore in 10 people as U.S. citizens. That was an event that took place today. And a very interesting story about that swearing in, one of the people who became a U.S. citizen today, and did the pledge of allegiance with the president, is a seaman who is aboard this ship. Her name is Rosa Norales-Nunez, she's from Honduras. She was a Honduran citizen and served on the ship for six months. And she took the oath and became a U.S. citizen. And as a matter of fact, just after she became a U.S. citizen, she introduced the president of the United States, so quite a day for that seaman.

With us right now is a U.S. Coast Guard lieutenant commander, Martha la Guardia (ph).

Commander, thanks for joining us.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.

TUCHMAN: For the Coast Guard, this an immense task. In addition to all the tall ships, military ships, we have tens of thousands of private craft out on the waters behind us here, the Statue of Liberty and elsewhere.

How tough of a day has this been for the Coast Guard?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a very busy day and it started two years ago when we started planning for this event. And we expect more spectators to arrive for the fireworks demonstration this evening.

TUCHMAN: Now, one of the tall ships that passes by, as a matter of fact the very first one, the Eagle, a U.S. ship, majestic tall ship. You told me before, you served on it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I did it was...

TUCHMAN: What kind of ship is it and what is it used for?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Eagle is the only U.S. government tall ship in the fleet. And it's used for training cadets at the Coast Guard Academy. And I was a cadet at the time where I first learned about the sea and adventures and all that goes with that; learning a lot about navigation and just the way of life on the ocean.

TUCHMAN: Commander la Guardia, do you know that there's an airport named after you here in New York?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I do.

TUCHMAN: Any relation to the mayor Fiorello la Guardia?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Very, very distant.

TUCHMAN: OK, thank you for joining us, we appreciate your time.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.

TUCHMAN: This will all come to an end, the ships going by us in about a half an hour or so. But the whole event will culminate tonight here in New York City with what they're calling another superlative, the largest fireworks demonstration ever. Sixty thousand shells will explode over the skies of New York City to honor America on her 224th birthday and also the first Independence Day of the new millennium.

Lou and Kyra, back to you.

WATERS: Love that culmination stuff.

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