by Evan McClure
On Saturday, October 10, The Mirador visited San Francisco to see Fleet Week. Fleet Week is a US Navy, US Marine Corps, and US Coast Guard tradition in San Francisco, that happens every year during Columbus Day weekend. It’s a week long event during which ships from the US Navy, US Coast Guard, and other countries, return from their deployments to dock in a major city, and let the sailors and Marines explore the city. For tourists, there are parades, ship tours, and air shows over the weekend.
Fleet Week in San Francisco was first held in 1981, but the event is rooted in 1908, when President Theodore Roosevelt’s Great White Fleet arrived in the city. Similar events now happen in other cities around the country, including Seattle and Portland. Last year, the celebrations around the country were canceled due to budget cuts by Congress, for the first time in its then 22 year history. This year, it has returned.
On Friday, October 9, the Parade of Ships arrived in San Francisco to dock, the USMC Band performed, and the US Navy’s Blue Angels flight demonstration team began rehearsals for the air shows for Saturday and Sunday. At 10 AM, the US Navy commissioned the USS America, the newest aircraft carrier in the fleet.
One sailor said that many of the them and the Marines spent time exploring the city, and popular tourist attractions, which included the Golden Gate Bridge and the redwood forests in the area. Sailors have a variety of privileges during Fleet Week. “It depends on what job you have. For me, I have to work in the mornings, but after that we get to go into the city.”
The Royal Canadian Navy was also present for this year’s Fleet Week, and along with the Calgary were the HMCS Brandon, and the HMCS Yellowknife. The lines for the ship tours fill up fast, and the wait can average over one hour, depending on where a person is in the line. One of the crew members said that the ship was recently on a two-month deployment to Mexico, working with the US Navy, and the Mexican authorities to go over ship manifests, and to search the cargo containers for illegal drugs, and ended up recovering over $12 million in drug money.
Over a million people came out to see the Blue Angels over the course of three days. Suffice to say, it was the most spectacular part of Fleet Week. They did amazing feats of aerobatics, such as: flying together with their wings only a few feet between each other, flying upside down past each other, flying close to the water, and flying directly over everyone in the crowd.