Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Op Sail 1976

This cover is postmarked from the 1976 Op Sail. (Stamped envelope #U571; Stamp #1631a).

Operation Sail was a series of sailing events that celebrated special occasions and focused on sailing vessels from around the world. The event is coordinated by Operation Sail, Inc. Operation Sail, Inc. is a non-profit organization founded by President John F. Kennedy in 1961. This event is often referred to as OpSail or Op Sail and focused on promoting goodwill and cooperation between countries. Tall ships were the centerpiece of the event but smaller vessels also participated.

These events usually run concurrently with the annual International Naval Review and feature present-day warships from different countries. The event ends with the Parade of Ships on the Hudson River and New York Harbor on the 4th of July. The US Coast Guard cutter Eagle has been the host vessel for all of the events.

The first Op Sail occurred in 1964 when tall ships and naval vessels filled the New York Harbor. This event was tied in with the 1964 New York World’s Fair.

The Op Sail 1976 was held to celebrate the US Bicentennial and took 5 years to plan. 16 tall ships were in the Grand Parade of Sailing Ships and flew a banner featuring the tricolor star insignia of the Bicentennial. These tall ships are referred to as the square-rigged school ships. In addition to the tall ships, 113 other vessels participated. This brought back the tradition of the International Naval Review and brought together a peacetime armada of 50 warships from many different countries. Present Gerald Ford reviewed the parade from the deck of the USS Forrestal, along with a 21-gun salute.

This cover may appeal to collectors from many different areas.

Classroom Activities: 
  • What makes a ship a tall ship? Make a poster showing the features of a tall ship.
  • What other Op Sail events occurred? Pick one and share it with the class.
  • Find out more about the US Coast Guard.
  • What other countries participated in Op Sail 1976? What did their ship look like?
Original Photo by Pat Hensley

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