Fleet Week returns to New York Harbor this week, bringing a parade of ships and some 2,300 sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen to the area for seven days of festive shore leave, and to welcome the public with ship tours and a host of other activities.
The weeklong spectacle of parties and exhibitions officially kicks off Wednesday with a midday procession of some of the Navy’s newest ships, which will be visible from parks and waterside overlooks from Brooklyn and Staten Island to just south of the George Washington Bridge.
The U.S. Navy has staged the annual recruiting event almost every year since 1984 to offer civilians a firsthand look at America’s floating military might, and a chance to meet some of the men and women who make up the world’s most powerful seaborne fighting force.
In all, 14 ships will arrive in the area, including the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Mitscher and one of the Navy’s newest ships, the USS Little Rock, a combat vessel designed for close-to-shore operations that officially joined the fleet only six months ago.
One of the arriving ships, the amphibious transport dock USS Arlington, was named in commemoration of the 9/11 terror attack on the Pentagon.
Fleet Week demonstrations of the Navy’s military might have been carried out since before there was even a Pentagon. The first Fleet Week was held in 1935, when more than 100 ships and some 63,000 Navy personnel descended on San Diego in conjunction with the California Pacific International Exposition.
Although this year’s New York event will be considerably more modest, there will be lots to see and do.
Visitors will be welcomed aboard daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on ships docked in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Staten Island. Daily ship tours aboard the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum, at Manhattan’s Pier 86, will be offered from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The U.S. Merchant Marine Academy will host the USS Zephyr, a 331-ton coastal patrol boat, at its Kings Point campus, but will not offer ship tours.
Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard musicians will fan out through the area for live performances at venues from Central Park in Manhattan, where the Navy band will perform Tuesday at noon, to Nassau County’s Eisenhower Park.
Among other offerings, Navy divers will perform drills inside a glass tank in Times Square, Navy rugby players will challenge their New York Police Department counterparts in a park in the Bronx, Marines will host a day of fitness classes and other activities in Prospect Parkin Brooklyn, and Navy rescue helicopter techniques will be on display at Liberty State Park in New Jersey.
On Long Island, the Navy will perform an “aviation event” between 10 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. aturday at Eisenhower Park in East Meadow, followed by a brass-band performance.
A number of entertainment venues are promoting Fleet Week-related activities, including a Friday night singles party at the Manhattan nightclub Hudson Station, and disco Saturday at Stage 48.
Fleet Week ends Tuesday, May 29, when the ships sail off.
More events, along with dates and times, can be found at http://militarynews.com/app/fleetweeknewyork/, according to the Navy.