NORFOLK (AP) -- An international fleet of tall ships is making its way to downtown Norfolk.
The big sailing ships with high masts in the Parade of Sail left the Chesapeake Bay side of Virginia Beach, were to pass Fort Monroe in Hampton and end up in downtown Norfolk. Thousands of spectators on shore and in their own boats were watching the procession, which began at 7:45 a.m. from the Lynnhaven Roads anchorage near the Lesner Bridge.
Once docked, many of the ships will be available for public tours.
The U.S. Coast Guard's signature ship, Eagle, is leading the parade into Hampton Roads and the multipurpose amphibious assault ship USS WASP also is participating in this year's commemoration as the official viewing platform for the parade.
The Navy says 26 U.S. and coalition ships also will be in the parade.
Five aircraft -- an MH-60S Seahawk, the Navy's multi-mission helicopter, an E-2 Hawkeye, the Navy's early warning and control aircraft, two F/A-18 Hornet Strike Fighters, the Navy's all weather fighter and attack aircraft and a H-60 Jayhawk, the U.S. Coast Guard's medium range responder helicopter -- will fly over the ships as they transit the Elizabeth River.
The ships are in the area as part of OpSail 2012 Virginia. They will leave for Baltimore on Tuesday.
Parade of Sail Viewing Locations/Hours
Lynnhaven Anchorage and First Landing State Park and CBBT: 7-10am
Fort Monroe National Monument, Hampton: 9:30am-12:30pm
Ocean View Beaches, Ocean View Beach Park, Sarah Constant Park, and Community Beach Park, Norfolk: 8:30-12:30am
Front Street Park at Fort Norfolk, Norfolk: 11am-2pm
Town Point Park and Freemason Harbor, Norfolk: 11:30am-2:30pm
Olde Towne Portsmouth, North Landing, and Crawford Bay, Portsmouth: 11:30am-2:30pm
Elizabeth River Boat Landing and Park, Portsmouth: noon-1pm
Great Bridge Lock Park, Chesapeake: 1-2pm