Operation Sail 1986 celebrated the Statue of Liberty’s centenary with an even more diverse array of vessels representing an even greater number of countries–a fitting tribute to what Lady Liberty
represents in the eyes of generations of immigrants and their descendants.
The first ship to arrive,the Christian Radich from Norway, was hailed by former Vice President Walter Mondale. The USS Iowa greeted the visiting ships, joined by the John F. Kennedy with Secretary of the Navy John F. Lehman, Jr. aboard. More than 30,000 spectator craft turned out, and the July 4th fireworks spectacular illuminated the entire fleet with what was billed as the largest pyrotechnic display in American history.