Fleet Week: A Navy, Marine Corps & Coast Guard Tradition

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Cruiser USS Leyte Gulf steams up the Hudson River during the 21st Fleet Week in New York City, 2008. Photo By: Jonathan Snyder.
Cruiser USS Leyte Gulf steams up the Hudson River during the 21st Fleet Week in New York City, 2008. Photo By: Jonathan Snyder.

Fleet Week is a United States Navy, Marine and Coast Guard time-honored celebration of the sea services. It is a chance to celebrate and honor the men and women of the military who proudly and courageously serve our great country. It is also an opportunity for civilians to meet Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen and a great way to thank and support these heroes.

The tradition of Fleet Week dates back to the early 20th century and has become a highly ritualized tradition that takes place in large U.S. ports like New York, San Diego, Seattle, Ft. Lauderdale, and San Francisco. The ships involved in Fleet Week are active military ships that have recently been deployed in overseas operations.

Ships rendezvous at sea so they can make a grand processional entrance. The ships are often greeted with fireworks, civilian sailboats, and large crowds who gather on shore to watch the ships coming in. The grand entrance may also include displays of agility from amphibious watercraft, like hovercrafts that are launched by amphibious assault ships.

Once the ships dock, their crews are released for shore leave and are encouraged to roam the community, giving the public a chance to talk directly with active duty members of the military. Also, while the ships are in port, visitors can climb aboard aircraft carriers, destroyers and cruisers and take guided tours to get a glimpse into the day to day lives of the sailors serving our country. Normally, these ships are off-limits or inaccessible to the public, so this is a great experience for those who are interested in getting to see these ships up close.

Entertainment events may include concerts, dances, and exclusive dinners. Military air shows are often coordinated to occur at the same time as Fleet Week, so civilians can see the best of naval and aeronautics technology at the same time, with stunt pilots such as the Blue Angels zipping overhead and performing aerial shows. Fleet Week is truly a fun and enjoyable experience!

Fleet Week Ports of Call 2016

● Cape May, NJ
● Grand Haven, MI
● Port Everglades, Fort Lauderdale, FL
● New York City, NY
● Portland, OR
● San Diego, CA
● San Francisco, CA
● Seattle, WA

For more information regarding dates and military lodging facilities nearby, subscribe to R&R Travel News®!

Author: Rachel Ohalek, Military Living® Publications

Reprint from January–February 2016 • Volume 46, No. 1