Fleet Week: Wikis


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The guided missile cruiser USS Anzio (CG-68) sails past the Statue of Liberty at the beginning of Fleet Week 2004 in New York City.
Fleet Week celebrations were sometimes also held overseas, as in 1908, when the Great White Fleet visited Auckland, New Zealand.[1]

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 provided by the Blue Angels.



The first Fleet Week was celebrated in San Diego, California, during the 1935 California Pacific International Exposition.[2] 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.

San Francisco Fleet Week

Fleet Week was not held again until it was revived in 1981 in San Francisco, California, 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 [3] to watch the air show along the San Francisco Bay waterfront stretching from the Ferry Building to the Golden Gate Bridge.

(Note that the "official" status of Fleet Week in San Francisco is a minor consideration because prior to 1981 it was common for large groups of U.S. Navy ships to dock in San Francisco for a similar, if unnamed series of events. Inevitably 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. Thus, any contention that Fleet Week was an invention of the Reagan Era is misplaced — only the official designation is new.)

Fleet Week in other cities

Fleet Weeks have since spread to other cities, including New York City, New York, starting in 1984(*correction- the USS Faragut DDG-37 participated in New York City's Fleet week activities in 1982), and later in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and also revived in San Diego. Seattle, Washington, also has a fleet week during Seafair.


New York City Fleet Week

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:


  1. ^ The US 'Great White Fleet' arrives in Auckland (from the 'NZ History' website. Retrieved August 3, 2007)
  2. ^ According to studies by the University of California, San Diego.
  3. ^ Carolyn Tyler. SF's Fleet Week impacted by economic woes. September 15, 2009. KGO-TV News.

External links


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