Fleet Week

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]
Sailors man the rails on the flight deck of USS John C. Stennis, San Diego Fleet Week parade.

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.[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

Blue Angels performing at Fleet Week San Francisco in 2016.

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.[3] The event was canceled for 2013, due to federal budgetary issues.,[4] but was revived in 2014, and continues to be an annual event. The official website: Fleet Week SF

Fort Lauderdale

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.

The Air & Sea Show was an annual air show in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida in which military and civilian performances took place on the four mile stretch of beach from Oakland Park to Las Olas Boulevard. The show existed from 1995 until 2007.

For more information on Broward Navy Days see *Fleet Week Port Everglades Website

New York City

Marines demonstrate Marine Corps Martial Arts Program techniques at Times Square in 2010

US Naval vessels had visited New York City in a celebratory manner dating back to the aftermath of the Spanish–American War in 1898, when Commodore Dewey was celebrated as the hero of the battle of Manila Bay. However, the first official Fleet Week began in New York City in 1982. Fleet Week in New York City is generally timed to coincide with the Memorial Day holiday weekend.

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. In 2016, ships visited Brooklyn for the first time, docking at the Cruise Ship Terminal.

The practice of US Navy ships visiting the city and being open for tours began in 1988. NYC Fleet Week 1988 included the aircraft carrier USS America (CV-66) and battleship USS Iowa (BB-61). Other vessels included the USS Joseph Daniels, USS Kidd, USS Preble [5]

NYC Fleet Week 1989 celebrated the bicentennial of the inauguration of President George Washington. Visiting vessels included the aircraft carriers USS Forrestal (CV-59) and USS Ticonderoga (CG-47). [6]

NYC Fleet Week 1990 included the aircraft carrier USS John F Kennedy (CV-67). Fifteen Navy and Coast Guard ships were part of the celebration which included commemoration of the bicentennial of the US Coast Guard. third annual Fleet Week. Vessels included the Coast Guard training ship Eagle,[7]

NYC Fleet Week 1991 coincided with Operation Welcome Home to commemorate military personnel returning from Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Vessels included the aircraft carrier USS America (CV-66), battleship USS Wisconsin (BB-64), and the AEGIS cruiser USS San Jacinto. [8]

NYC Fleet Week 1992 was held from May 20–26. It included 13 US naval ships and 7 vessels from European navies.[9]

NYC Fleet Week 1993 was held from May 27–31, and included ships from several countries including the Russian destroyer Bezuderzhny and oiler Sheksna. The US presence of 12 ships was headlined by the aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy (CV-67). Ships at the Manhattan location included USS Kennedy, USS Leyte Gulf (CG-55). US Navy ships in Staten Island included USS Clifton Sprague and USS Bowen, USS Normandy, USS Wainwright, and USS Donald B. Beary. Ainsworth, rescue ship Ortolan, USS Capodanno The US Coast Guard was represented by vessels Adak, Sorrel, Staten Island, Tampa, and Wire. A Polish submarine also visited.[10][11]

NYC Fleet Week 1998 was May 20-?? and included the aircraft carrier USS John F Kennedy (CV-67).

NYC Fleet Week 1999 included the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD-1).

NYC Fleet Week 2002 began on May 22, and was the first Fleet Week following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks that destroyed the World Trade Center. Thirteen U.S. Navy ships, five U.S. Coast Guard ships, one ship representing the Canadian Navy and one representing the Danish Navy sailed up the Hudson River to piers 86 and 88 near the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum and to Staten Island. US ships included USS Sentry (MCM-3).

NYC Fleet Week 2003 included eighteen ships from five nations, including tall sailing ships from Mexico and India. Nine ships of the US Navy were present, including the USS Shreveport (LPD-12) an Austin-class American amphibious transport dock, dock landing ship USS Portland, 3 guided missile cruisers (USS Normandy), and 3 frigates.

NYC Fleet Week 2004 included the AEGIS guided missile cruiser USS Anzio (CG-68), and guided missile destroyer DDG-52 (USS Barry) The 2008 Fleet Week began May 21 and included Canadian ships in addition to U.S. ships headlined by amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD-3).

NYC Fleet Week 2005 included the aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy (CV-67) as the flagship of the event.

NYC Fleet Week 2007 included the cruisers USS Hue City (CG-66) & USS San Jacinto (CG-56), the destroyers USS Oscar Austin (DDG-79) & USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG-81), and the frigate USS Stephen W. Groves (FFG-29).

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 Royal Canadian Navy. The visiting ships were:

New York City Fleet Week 2010

The 23rd Fleet Week ran May 26–31, 2010. Visiting ships included:

New York City Fleet Week 2011

The 24th New York Fleet Week was in May 2011. Visiting ships were:

New York City Fleet Week 2012

The 25th New York City Fleet Week was in May 2012. It was also OpSail 2012 in commemoration of the War of 1812. Visiting Ships were:

New York City Fleet Week 2013

Fleet Week was canceled due to federal budget cuts (sequestration).[12][13][14]

New York City Fleet Week 2014

On April 8, 2014, the Navy announced that visiting ships would be:

New York City Fleet Week 2015

On April 13, 2015, the Navy announced that visiting ships would be:

New York City Fleet Week 2016

On April 4th 2016, the Navy announced visiting ships would be:

Other cities

Fleet Week and similar traditions in other cities include:


  1. "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.
  2. http://www.sandiegohistory.org/calpac/35expo11.htm
  3. Carolyn Tyler (September 15, 2009). "SF's Fleet Week impacted by economic woes". KGO-TV News. Retrieved 28 September 2011.
  4. Chris Roberts (April 9, 2013). "SF's Fleet Week air show canceled with Blue Angels grounded". San Francisco Examiner. Retrieved 4 February 2016.
  5. http://www.nytimes.com/1988/04/17/nyregion/the-pilots-at-sandy-hook-294-years-of-taking-the-helm.html
  6. http://www.nytimes.com/1989/04/28/arts/washington-s-inaugural-afloat-aloft-and-on-foot.html
  7. http://www.nytimes.com/1990/06/22/arts/weekender-guide.html
  8. http://www.nytimes.com/1991/06/10/nyregion/new-york-prepares-embrace-for-troops.html
  9. http://www.nytimes.com/1992/03/15/news/attractions.html?pagewanted=4
  10. http://www.nytimes.com/1993/05/29/nyregion/dockside-commerce-industry-fleet-week-russians-raise-cash-americans-talk-love.html
  11. http://www.nytimes.com/1993/04/18/news/attractions.html?pagewanted=2
  12. "New York City Fleet Week officially canceled". WABC TV. Retrieved 24 April 2013.
  13. "Budget cuts end Fleet Week in NYC". WTVR TV. Retrieved 12 April 2013.
  14. "With Federal Budget Cuts, Something Will Be Missing From Fleet Week: The Sailors". NY Times. Retrieved 12 April 2013.
  15. "Fleet Week San Diego". San Diego Fleet Week Foundation. 2011. Retrieved 28 September 2011.
  16. "Rose Festival :: Events :: Fleet". Portland Rose Festival Foundation. 2011. Retrieved 28 September 2011.
  17. http://www.seafair.com/AnEvent.aspx?ID=9&SecID=896
  18. Bubala, Mary (16 October 2016). "Historic And Cutting Edge USS Zumwalt Commissioned In Baltimore". WJZ-TV. Retrieved 16 October 2016.
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