Thousands of US sailors visit Brisbane


Sailors from a US aircraft carrier docked in Brisbane have wasted no time heading ashore for some much-anticipated rest, recuperation and fun.

More than 5500 crew members from the USS George Washington are visiting the city and the nearby Gold Coast on shore leave over the next five days.

Crew dressed in civilian clobber began filing off the enormous nuclear-powered ship as soon as they could once it came into the Port of Brisbane on Friday morning.

They're in Australia for July's biennial war games known as Exercise Talisman Sabre and, according to their captain, are looking forward to one of their favourite stopovers.

"They work about 12 to 18 hours every day and when they come into a place like Brisbane they just want to relax and sleep more than anything else the first couple of days," Captain Timothy Kuehhas said.

Among those welcoming the influx of US visitors are local business owners anticipating a spike in tourism dollars this weekend.

"We hope they have a great time in Brisbane and they spend lots of money, and they get out and about," Deputy Premier Jackie Trad said.

Exercise Talisman Sabre will involve about 33,000 US and Australian personnel in operations near Darwin and Rockhampton and maritime areas of the Coral Sea.

Real Admiral John Alexander said the war games are a chance to engage in "high-end training with a high-end partner" - the Australian Defence Force.

The Americans have some less serious games planned over the next four days, including a rematch of a soccer game against local police and emergency services two years ago.

"We lost that match but we're going to do it again and we're looking to even the score this time," Capt Kuehhas said.

"Also there's a basketball game and I believe an Australian Rules football match that we're going to be playing as well so we're looking forward to that."