Tall Ships from around the world celebrate in New York

Tall ships Brazilian Navy tall ship Cisne Branco
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The world's fascination with tall ships persists. A flotilla of tall ships from around the world sailed this week into New York Harbor, kicking off annual Fleet Week celebrations and marking the bicentennial of the Anglo-American War from 1812 to 1815 which was the beginning of US independence from Britain.

The first masts visible over the horizon at the bay entrance early Wednesday belonged to the 'Juan Sebastian de Elcano,' a four-mast Spanish navy schooner.

Tall Ships arrive photo by Andrew Burton Reuters
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It was followed by the three-mast 'Dewaruci' from Indonesia, and two French naval tall ships, 'La Belle Poule' and the 'Etoile.'

Dewaruci from Indonesia arrives - photo by Don Emmert AFP
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Nine navy tall ships sailed into the bay under the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge including the 'Cisne Blanco' from Brazil, Mexico's 'Cuauhtemoc,' the 'Gloria' from Colombia and the 'Guayas' from Ecuador.

Tall ships ARC Gloria from Colombia copy
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It was the first time in 12 years that tall ships participated in New York's Fleet Week.

After sailing past the Statue of Liberty, the flotilla entered the Hudson River, where they were met by the US Coast Guard barque, the 'Eagle.'

The 'Eagle' was built in Hamburg in 1936 and used to train German naval cadets during World War II. The United States took it as a war prize in 1946.

'The ships are a visual experience. There's nothing like this,' Paulette Nedrow, from the US Coast Guard, told AFP.

The ships sailed up the Hudson River to the George Washington Bridge, and then returned to dock at piers in New York and nearby New Jersey, where many will open to the public over the long Memorial Day holiday weekend.

New York's Fleet Week has been an annual event since 1984 and includes visits by Navy and Coast Guard ships, as well as thousands of sailors and marines on leave.

This year the focus is on the bicentennial of the War of 1812, in which the young United States fought Britain and its native allies to consolidate US independence.