Fleet Week is a United States Navy, United States Marine Corps, and United States Coast Guard tradition in which active military ships recently deployed in overseas operations dock in a variety of major cities for one week. Once the ships dock, the crews can enter the city and visit its tourist attractions. At certain hours, the public can take a guided tour of the ships. Often, Fleet Week is accompanied by military demonstrations and air shows such as those provided by the Blue Angels.
The first Fleet Week was celebrated in San Diego, California, during the 1935 California Pacific International Exposition. The years between World War I and World War II saw an increasing military build-up in both Japan and Germany, while the communist Soviet Union (USSR) was given over to the wave of Stalinist nationalism. Most United States citizens experienced little sense of urgency about foreign developments because of isolationism and concerns with the ongoing economic Great Depression. However, then-U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, a former Assistant Secretary of the Navy, was intent on expanding the U.S. Navy in response to world political trends. A major aircraft company was moving to Lindbergh Field, (today more commonly known as San Diego International Airport). In this atmosphere, Fleet Week was born.
At 11 a.m. on May 29, 1935, a color guard of the U.S. Marine Corps led a parade across Cabrillo Bridge to Plaza del Pacifico, where the U.S. flag was raised to open the Exposition officially. At 8 p.m., Roosevelt spoke by telephone and designated two selected orphans to press the buttons turning on the lights which bathed the grounds in color. In his remarks, heard over the loudspeaker system, Roosevelt said: "The decision of the people of San Diego thus to dedicate the California Pacific International Exposition is, I believe, worthy of the courage and confidence with which our people now look to the future. No one can deny that we have passed through troubled years. No one can fail to feel the inspiration of your high purpose. I wish you great success."
During Fleet Week in June 1935, 114 warships and 400 military planes arrived under command of U.S. Navy Admiral Joseph M. Reeves, Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Fleet. It was described as the mightiest fleet ever assembled under the U.S. flag. It included forty-eight battleships, cruisers and aircraft carriers, with more than 3,000 commissioned officers and 55,000 enlisted men. The U.S. Navy men visited the Exposition and, in turn, thousands of San Diegans and other fairgoers were guests on the various ships.
For years it was common for several U.S. Navy ships to dock in San Francisco, California for a similar series of events. One or more fleet ships were docked as a "visit ship" for tourists to board, and the local community took in sailors for home visits; drinks were often discounted to uniformed sailors at area bars and restaurants.
The revived name of Fleet Week was applied to an expanded and more heavily publicized fleet visit in 1981, in conjunction with Columbus Day Weekend celebrations during the second week of October. Since then, the event has been held each year during the Columbus Day Weekend without a break and celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2005. The event is estimated to attract over one million people who watch the air show along the San Francisco Bay waterfront stretching from the Ferry Building to the Golden Gate Bridge. The event was canceled for 2013. Other events will be scheduled, including Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Response Training (HADR). The Fleet Week Air Show efforts will be refocused on the 2014 air show scheduled for October 10–13, 2014.
For more than 20 years, Fleet Week Port Everglades has been produced as a signature event for South Florida each spring by Broward Navy Days, a non-profit 501(c)(3). FW PEV provides an annual opportunity for residents to honor and celebrate our Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen for their service to our country as well as witness first-hand the latest capabilities of today's modern navy. With the support of sponsors and assistance of hundreds of volunteers representing veterans, civic and service organizations, FW PEV offers opportunities to enjoy shore leave and participate in a wide variety of recreational, vocational and community service activities. Popular events include;
All Hands on Deck Welcoming Party, Damage Control Olympics, Community Relations Projects, Ship Tours, Celebrity Chef Luncheon, Ship Honorary Dinners, Submariners Reception, Take a Hero Fishing Tournament, Golf Tournament, Culinary Competitions, Sailor of the Year Recognition and Dignitary Reception.
For more information on Broward Navy Days see *Fleet Week Port Everglades Website
New York City
Fleet Week began in New York City in 1982. During the New York City Fleet Week, ships are docked at New York Passenger Ship Terminal on the Hudson River on the West Side of the borough of Manhattan and also at Stapleton in the borough of Staten Island. The 2008 Fleet Week began May 21 and included Canadian ships in addition to U.S. ships.
- New York City Fleet Week 2009
New York City Fleet Week 2009 was May 20–26, 2009, with representatives from both the U.S. military and the Canadian Navy. The visiting ships were:
- New York City Fleet Week 2010
The 23rd Fleet Week ran May 26–31, 2010. Ships returning from the previous year included Athabaskan, Iwo Jima, and Katherine Walker.
- New York City Fleet Week 2011
The 24th New York Fleet Week was in May 2011. Visiting ships were:
- USS Iwo Jima (LHD-7)
- USS New York (LPD-21)
- USS John L. Hall (FFG-32)
- USS Kauffman (FFG-59)
- USS Carr (FFG-52)
- USCGC Willow (WLB-202)
- USCGC Tampa (WMEC-902)
- USCGC Reliance (WMEC-615)
New York City Fleet Week 2012
The 25th New York City Fleet Week was in May 2012. It was also OpSail 2012 in honor of the War of 1812. Visiting Ships were:
- USS Wasp (LHD-1)
- USS Roosevelt (DDG-80)
- USS Gonzalez (DDG-66)
- USS Donald Cook (DDG-75)
- USS Mitscher (DDG-57)
- USS San Jacinto (CG-56)
- USCGC Eagle (WIX-327)
- USCGC Willow (WLB-202)
- USCGC Seneca (WMEC-906)
- BNS Cisne Branco (Brazil)
- FS Bella Poule (France)
- FS Etoile (France)
- AMS Cuauhtemoc (Mexico)
- ARC Gloria (Coloumbia)
- KRI Dewaruci (Indonesia)
- ESPS Juan Sebastian Elcano (Spain)
- BAE Guayas (Ecuador)
- HMCS Iroquois (DDG-280) (Canada)
- RFA Argus (A-135) (United Kingdom)
- JDS Shirane (DDH-143) (Japan)
- FNS Pohjanmaa (01) (Finland)
New York City Fleet Week 2013
New York City Fleet Week 2014
On April 8th 2014, the Navy announced that visiting ships would be:
- USS Oak Hill (LSD-51)
- USS Cole (DDG-67)
- USS McFaul (DDG-74) - USS Gettysburg (CG-64) was the originally scheduled to attend, but was replaced by the McFaul
- USCGC Kathrine Walker (WLM-522)
- USCGC Campbell (WMEC-909)
Fleet Week and similar traditions in other cities include:
- San Diego, California
- Port Everglades in Broward County, Florida
- Portland, Oregon includes fleet week as a part of its annual Portland Rose Festival
- Seattle, Washington includes fleet week during the annual Seafair
- "Today in History 9 August 1908: The US 'Great White Fleet' arrives in Auckland". New Zealand History. New Zealand Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 28 September 2011.
- Carolyn Tyler (September 15, 2009). "SF's Fleet Week impacted by economic woes". KGO-TV News. Retrieved 28 September 2011.
- "Master Page". Retrieved 18 September 2013.
- "Parade Of Ships Kicks Off Fleet Week". NY1 News. 26 May 2010. Retrieved 28 September 2011.
- "New York City Fleet Week officially canceled". WABC TV. Retrieved 24 April 2013.
- "Budget cuts end Fleet Week in NYC". WTVR TV. Retrieved 12 April 2013.
- "With Federal Budget Cuts, Something Will Be Missing From Fleet Week: The Sailors". NY Times. Retrieved 12 April 2013.
- "Fleet Week San Diego". San Diego Fleet Week Foundation. 2011. Retrieved 28 September 2011.
- "Rose Festival :: Events :: Fleet". Portland Rose Festival Foundation. 2011. Retrieved 28 September 2011.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Fleet Week.|
- Fleet Week New York Website
- Fleet Week Port Everglades Website
- San Francisco Fleet Week Website
- San Diego Fleet Week Website
- Seattle Seafair Fleet Week Website
- Fleet Week NYC 2010
- San Francisco Fleetweek Top Photos