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Tall ships set to sail into Baltimore

More than 40 tall ships and naval vessels from 12 countries will fill Baltimore’s waters starting June 13.

Rear Admiral Gregory Nosal addresses attendees at the kick off event of the Star-Spangled Sailabration, an event which marks the 200th anniversary of the war of 1812.

The “Star-Spangled Sailabration” marks the start of Maryland’s three-year commemoration of the bicentennial of the War of 1812. Baltimore’s display of ships will be the largest of the six stops along the Eastern Seaboard.

“In a very real way, the start of the United States Navy was this crucible of the War of 1812,” said Gov. Martin O’Malley at a news conference Tuesday in the Inner Harbor. “That’s what made us realize that as vast as our continent was, and is, we still needed to make sure we secured the freedom of the shipping lanes, our connection to the rest of the world.”

There will be 18 tall ships, 10 U.S. naval vessels, 10 foreign naval vessels and four additional U.S. ships participating in the extravaganza. The foreign ships come from Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, Ecuador, Germany, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, Norway and the United Kingdom.

The ships will be docked in the Inner Harbor, Fell’s Point and North Locust Point and Tide Point, and will be open for free public tours from June 14 to June 18.

“Next week will be an opportunity for many of you to meet the young men and women who wear the cloth of our nation, who are on watch 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, keeping our sea lanes open and protecting our way of life,” said Rear Admiral Gregory Nosal.

Baltimore will be the fourth stop for the flotilla, which was in New Orleans and New York, and will come to Baltimore from Norfolk, Va. The ships will depart from Baltimore on June 19 and head to Boston, followed by New London, Conn.

Visitors will only be able to access the ships in Locust Point via free shuttle buses from M&T Bank Stadium. Those ships will have visiting hours from 1 to 5 p.m. Ships in Fell’s Point and the Inner Harbor will be open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

“I look forward to the Star-Spangled Sailabration welcoming scores of people to the Inner Harbor and beyond,” Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said at the event.

That “beyond” includes Martin State Airport in Baltimore County, where on June 16 and 17 visitors will be able to see aircrafts on display, as well as meet the Blue Angels, the Navy’s flight demonstration squadron. The Blue Angels will be the feature act of an air show on each of those days.

Inner Harbor festivities will also include a Rash Field “Adventure Zone,” equipped with a rock wall and volleyball court. The “Galleywork Demo Kitchen,” to be located beside the Light Street Pavilion, will include demonstrations from area restaurants such as the Waterfront Kitchen and Fleet Street Kitchen and daily demonstrations by a Navy culinary specialist.

The west shore concert stage, between the Light Street Pavilion and Maryland Science Center, will feature several musical acts every day, while the Inner Harbor’s amphitheater will be home to various naval and international bands.

The week-long event is presented by Star-Spangled 200 Inc., the nonprofit arm of the state’s War of 1812 Bicentennial Commission, in partnership with the U.S. Navy and Operation Sail Inc.

Twenty-five corporate sponsors have pledged about $5 million toward the commemoration, with AT&T serving as the presenting sponsor and Constellation Energy and Papa John’s committing as founding partners.

The sale of commemorative gold and silver coins, which go for $35 and $10, respectively, can bring in about $8.5 million. About a quarter of the inventory has been sold, adding $2 million to the fundraising efforts. The coins will available through the end of 2012.

The state has pledged up to $6 million toward the bicentennial events, which are expected to cost $25 million over the three years.