USS Ronald Reagan’s departure to close part of Brisbane River

Tug boats from Svitzer Brisbane bring USS Ronald Reagan into Port of Brisbane ONE of the largest US Navy ships to dock in Brisbane in at least two years is scheduled to leave on Friday after a port visit following the end of Exercise Talisman Sabre, while another ship carrying mostly US Marines arrived late Thursday.

About 800 US Marines and some sailors from the USS Green Bay are expected to hit the town this weekend after arriving in Brisbane on Thursday, just as the USS Ronald Reagan and three smaller ships prepare to leave.

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. The USS Ronald Reagan at the Port of Brisbane. Picture: AAP 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. F18 Super Hornet’s aboard the USS Ronald Reagan in Brisbane. Picture: AAP 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 American flag is raised on the […]