Where you can see USS Ronald Reagan today
ONE of the largest US Navy ships to dock in Queensland in at least two years is scheduled to leave on Brisbane today following the end of Exercise Talisman Sabre and is set to pass the Coast this afternoon.
Part of the Brisbane River, between the Entrance Channel Beacons and the Pelican Banks Reach, will be closed to all boats between 1pm and 2pm Friday to enable the departure of the USS Ronald Reagan, according to the Department of Transport and Main Roads and Maritime Safety Queensland.
USS Ronald Reagan will pass by the Sunshine Coast at approximately 4pm, and will be most visible from Caloundra.
The Courier-Mail reported that to leave Brisbane, four tug boats from Svitzer Brisbane will gently pull the 333m-long nuclear-powered aircraft carrier away from its berth at Fisherman's Island before escorting it back out to sea.
Rick Goffin, 54, port manager at Svitzer Brisbane, said the Queensland police bomb squad would first sweep the tugs before they start their job of moving the ship.
Bringing the USS Ronald Reagan into port on Sunday was slightly more difficult than it should be for it to leave, as the four tugs had to swing the ship around so that it was facing back out to sea before it docked.
He said two of the four tug boats had to undergo the unusual step of pulling down their masts, which has to be done with a crane, as they had to work underneath the oddly-shaped aircraft carrier's flight deck.
On average, only two tug boats were needed for most ships that visited the Port of Brisbane.
"Four tugs is quite unusual, but were requested because of its size and because it's quite a sensitive vessel with certain security arrangements around it," Mr Goffin said.
"It is also quite unique to get a nuclear-powered vessel in the port, so there are strict safety procedures around it.
"Our average size container ship at Fisherman Island is about 200m long and about 25,000 tonnes. The Ronald Reagan is probably four times the size of our regular ships," he said.
Mr Goffin said unlike the two tugs pulling and two pushing the ship on entry, they should only have to pull the ship off the berth.
"The tugs operate under a (ship) pilot's orders or directions, they're not out there doing their own thing," he said.
About 5000 personnel from the aircraft carrier have been sightseeing in southeast Queensland since Sunday afternoon, and another 1200 sailors from three smaller US Navy ships have also been on leave following the end of Australia's largest joint military exercise.
The smaller ships include the guided missile-destroyers, the USS Shiloh, the USS Barry and the USS Sterrett.
The Shiloh also arrived Sunday, while the USS Barry and the USS Sterrett arrived Saturday and docked at the Northshore Hamilton Wharf.
A Brisbane Marketing spokesman said a majority of the sailors headed to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary and Australia Zoo during the week.
Others met up with family members who flew into Australia and went on tours of the beer breweries, wine tours, to day spas or headed to the beaches on the Gold and Sunshine Coasts, while some volunteered for community service or sporting events.
Lieutenant Commander Dave Levy from the USS Ronald Reagan said the first thing he did was have a "proper" meal of steak and ale.
He said he also walked across the Story Bridge, through the parks, and checked out the night noodle market and the Farmer's Market, before ending his visit with a round of golf.
Talisman Sabre is a biennial joint Australia-United States military exercise that started in June and involved more than 33,000 mostly Australian and US troops, 20 ships and about 200 aircraft, with the majority of the mock war taking place in and around central Queensland.
The closing ceremony was held aboard the USS Ronald Reagan on Tuesday in Brisbane.