Fleet Week Returns With More Sensational Events

This year marks the 36th anniversary of San Francisco Fleet Week and, from October 3 to 9, the Bay Area will open its arms and piers to the largest and most significant event of its kind in the nation.

Photo by Joel Williams

BC STAFF REPORT

 

This year marks the 36th anniversary of San Francisco Fleet Week and, from October 3 to 9, the Bay Area will open its arms and piers to the largest and most significant event of its kind in the nation. San Francisco’s Fleet Week is now recognized by the United States Department of Defense as the model for fleet weeks across the country.

 

San Francisco and Fleet Week share a long and storied history that began in 1908 with the arrival of President Theodore Roosevelt’s “Great White Fleet” to the Bay during its round-the-world voyage. Consisting of 16 battleships of the Atlantic Fleet and various smaller vessels, this legendary flotilla featured hulls painted white except for the gilded scrollwork on their bows. The 14-month voyage from Hampton Roads, Virginia, to San Francisco was a showcase of American sea power, with ships manned by 14,000 sailors. The fleet covered 43,000 miles and stopped at 20 ports on six continents.

 

The fleet arrived in San Francisco on May 6, 1908 from Magdalena Bay, Mexico, and was greeted by a huge celebration hosted by the City of San Francisco. As each ship passed Fort Point it fired a 21-gun salute, which was answered with a salute from land. Crowds flocked to San Francisco to see the fleet. Transbay ferry traffic from May 5 to May 17 exceeded the normal business by 450,000 passengers. The heaviest travel day was on May 6, when 186,000 passengers were taken across San Francisco Bay to see the arrival of the fleet. It was one of the largest crowds of Californians ever assembled.

 

On January 18, 1911, the era of naval aviation began in San Francisco Bay with the first-ever launch of an aircraft from the deck of a military vessel, the USS Pennsylvania. Throughout the 20th century, San Francisco was a major focus of naval operations and served as the headquarters of the United States Navy forces under Admiral Chester Nimitz during World War II. A generation of Liberty ships and other military vessels were built, launched, serviced, berthed and later retired at Bay Area historic sites, including Mare Island Naval Shipyard, Richmond’s Kaiser Shipyard, the Marin Shipworks, Treasure Island, Hunters Point Shipyard, Suisun Bay and the Alameda Naval Air Station.

 

Over the years, millions more San Franciscans have welcomed the United States Navy and Marine Corps, making its Fleet Week one of San Francisco’s most treasured traditions. Under the leadership of Mayor Dianne Feinstein, the modern Fleet Week tradition began in 1981, honoring the dedicated men and women of the United States Armed Forces and their colleagues.

 

This year’s events will once again feature the spectacular United States Navy Blue Angels—the world’s most talented aerial performance team—to thrill the public with its incredible aerial feats. A full airshow will be taking place over three consecutive days in the skies above San Francisco’s waterfront; this air show event typically attracts over a million people around the Bay.

 

The Marina Green will also once again host the Humanitarian Assistance Village, which will demonstrate the U.S. Marines’ ability to support the Bay Area and the world in response to natural disasters, with interactive demonstrations of U.S. military and civil capabilities. The 2017 version of the village will include an interactive educational program for participants to learn about these capabilities.

 

Guided by a “passport,” participants will be encouraged to explore four different theme camps and receive a stamp from each: Mass Care and Shelter; Power and Utilities; Community Response and Rescue; and Environmental Management and Decontamination. Participants who turn in a completed Passport with four stamps will be eligible for a prize drawing.

 

In addition, throughout Fleet Week, thousands of visitors can climb aboard amphibious carriers, destroyers and cruisers docked along the Embarcadero to get a glimpse into the day-to-day lives of the sailors serving in the U.S. Navy, U.S. Coast Guard and Canadian Navy. All ship tours are free of charge.

 

Following is an overview of public events for San Francisco Fleet Week. An up-to-the-minute schedule of public events is available online at fleetweeksf.org:

 

Tuesday/Wednesday, October 3-4:

Ship Tours – 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Pier 30-32

USS Essex LHD 2, United States Navy Wasp-class amphibious assault ship

 

Thursday, October 5:

Ship Tours – 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Pier 15/17

HMCS Winnipeg FFH 338, Royal Canadian Navy Halifax-class frigate

 

Friday, October 6:

United Airlines Festival Center on Marina Green – 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

 

Parade of Ships – 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. SF waterfront

It’s a day to celebrate Fleet Week at sea and in the air! The grand Fleet Week flotilla will enter San Francisco Bay, led by San Francisco’s own fireboat, St. Frances.

 

Airshow - 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. SF waterfront

Featuring the U.S. Navy Blue Angels and Canadian Snowbirds

 

Saturday, October 7:

United Airlines Festival Center on Marina Green – 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

 

Ship Tours - 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

HMCS Winnipeg FFH 338, Royal Canadian Navy Halifax-class frigate - Pier 15/17

USCGC Midgett WHEC 726, U.S. Coast Guard  378 ft. (115 m) high endurance cutter - Pier 35

USS Champion MCM 4, Mine Countermeasures Ship - Pier 35

USS Dewey DDG 105, U.S. Navy Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer - Pier 35

USS Essex LHD 2, U.S. Navy Wasp-class amphibious assault ship - Pier 30-32

 

AT&T K-9 Heroes: Bark at the Park – 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Duboce Park

Demonstrations include dogs trained in urban search and rescue, detection and more. Learn why these K-9s are heroes to so many.

 

Airshow - 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. SF waterfront

Featuring the U.S. Navy Blue Angels and Canadian Snowbirds

 

Sunday, October 8:

United Airlines Festival Center on Marina Green – 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

 

Ship Tours – 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

HMCS Winnipeg FFH 338, Royal Canadian Navy Halifax-class frigate - Pier 15/17

Ship Tours – 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

USCGC Midgett WHEC 726, U.S. Coast Guard 378 ft. (115 m) high endurance cutter Pier 35

USS Champion MCM 4, Mine Countermeasures Ship - Pier 35

USS Dewey DDG 105, U.S. Navy Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer - Pier 35

USS Essex LHD 2, U.S. Navy Wasp-class amphibious assault ship - Pier 30-32

 

Airshow – 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. SF waterfront

Featuring the US Navy Blue Angels and Canadian Snowbirds

 

Monday, October 9:

Ship Tours – 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

HMCS Winnipeg FFH 338, Royal Canadian Navy Halifax-class frigate - Pier 15/17

USCGC Midgett WHEC 726, U.S. Coast Guard  378 ft. (115 m) high endurance cutter Pier 35

USS Champion MCM 4, Mine Countermeasures Ship - Pier 35

USS Dewey DDG 105, U.S. Navy Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer - Pier 35

USS Essex LHD 2, U.S. Navy Wasp-class amphibious assault ship - Pier 30-32

 

High School Band Challenge – 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Golden Gate Park

The United States Marine Corps Band kicks off this event with a stirring performance of patriotic songs and a musical celebration. The thrill of the music continues as select Bay Area high school bands then take the stage, competing for prize money to support their school music programs.

Photo by Joel Williams