Ladies and Gentlemen, Fleet Week San Francisco has docked! It’s the time of year when the US Navy’s might, both on sea, land and in the air, is put on display for all to witness. 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.
Cal OES partners with the military during emergency responses and recovery missions; the most recent mutual aid deployments include the disasters created by hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.
The video accompanying this story was shot from the deck of the USS Essex (LHD-2), as they entered the bay from San Diego. Our public information team, John Larimore and Bryan May, arrived onboard via helicopter at 14:00, halfway between Half Moon Bay and San Francisco. The six-hour trip took them beneath the Golden Gate Bridge, through the San Francisco Bay, under the Bay Bridge and into the port at pier 30-32. Watch this short video to enjoy the scenery from a vantage point to most people don’t have access.
Video shot and edited by: John Larimore
San Francisco Fleet Week is an annual public event that honors the contributions of the men and women of the United States Armed Forces while advancing cooperation and knowledge among civilian- and military-based Humanitarian Assistance personnel. San Francisco Fleet Week (SFFW) began in 1981 when then Mayor Dianne Feinstein led the nation in celebrating America’s sea services. Taking place every October on the Marina Green over Italian Heritage Weekend, SFFW’s air show, parade of ships and many community events have become a significant and integral part of the city’s local culture and economy. As the largest and most significant event of its kind in the nation, SFFW features a unique training and education program that brings together civilian and military forces to develop and share best practices in humanitarian assistance. Consistently attracting millions of visitors, creating important and lasting relationships for its partners, and generating over $10M in annual revenue for the city, SFFW is now recognized by the United States Department of Defense as the model for fleet weeks across the country.
According to SanDiegoHistory.org the first Fleet Week was celebrated in San Diego, California, during the 1935 California Pacific International Exposition. 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.