Operation Sail 1976 provided a centerpiece for the U.S. Bicentennial celebration. The event, which took five years to plan, featured even more tall ships than the 1964 gathering, including the Soviet Union’s czarina of the sea, the Kruzenshtern, which Frank Braynard had won over against all political odds on a trip to Moscow.
The ships raced from the Canary Islands to Bermuda, then proceeded “in company” to New York, where they were met by a vast spectator fleet. In partnership with the Navy, Operation Sail 1976 also resurrected the tradition of holding an International Naval Review, which brought together a peacetime armada of 50 warships under as many flags. From the deck of the USS Forrestal, President Gerald Ford reviewed the parade of sail, complete with a 21-gun salute.
In Frank Braynard’s estimation, it was “the biggest assemblage of ships since the Battle of Navarino in 1827,” and as one skipper recalled, “The hospitality of New Yorkers in 1976 has never been matched.”