Thursday, May 21, 2009

Parade of Ships Kicks off Fleet Week in New York City

The guided-missile cruiser USS Vella Gulf (CG 72) transits the Hudson River during the Parade of Ships as part of Fleet Week New York City 2009. Approximately 3,000 Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsman will participate in the 22nd commemoration of Fleet Week New York. This event will provide the citizens of New York City and surrounding tri-state area an opportunity to meet service members and also see the latest capabilities of today's maritime services. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class David Danals/Released)

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ricky Allen, Navy Public Affairs Support Element-East

NEW YORK (NNS) -- The amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) arrived in New York City May 20, officially kicking off the 22nd commemoration of Fleet Week New York City 2009, May 20-27.

Approximately 3,000 Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen from the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard will participate in this year's events.

One of the first events welcoming fleet week service members was the Parade of Ships reception, held at the USS Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum, which re-opened in November after undergoing renovations at Staten Island.

"We're so excited to be back right after our restoration and renovation and for our first fleet week," said Intrepid Museum Executive Director Susan Marenoff. "We have so much going on over here in the next couple of days. Activities on our pier, Broadway performances, military demonstrations...We have so many new things since we've opened up the museum."

Coast Guard Vice Adm. Robert J. Papp Jr., commander, Coast Guard Atlantic Area was the guest speaker at the reception. He said that when it comes to Sailors in general, "We understand each other."

Papp said people will not only see the ships, but the service members as well.

"The ships don't come to life unless there are Sailors, Coast Guardsmen and Marines that bring them to life. And how fortunate we are over the history of this country to have people step forward and serve afloat and ashore to carry out the very important mission of this country," he said.

Also in attendance were Vice Adm. Mel Williams, Jr., commander, U.S. 2nd Fleet and Rear Adm. John N. Christenson, commander, Carrier Strike Group 12, Enterprise Strike Group.

Ships participating in the Parade of Ships this year were the guided-missile cruiser USS Vella Gulf (CG 72), homeported at Naval Station Norfolk, Va.; patrol coastal ships USS Tempest (PC 2), USS Hurricane (PC 3) and USS Thunderbolt (PC 12), homeported at Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek, Va.; the guided missile destroyer USS Roosevelt (DDG 80), homeported in Mayport, Fla.; Canadian ships, air defense destroyer HMCS Athabaskan, the multi-role patrol frigate HMCS Fredericton, HMCS Montreal, multi-role patrol frigate HMCS St. John's, auxiliary oil replenishment HMCS Preserver; and the U.S. Coast Guard high endurance cutter Spencer.

In addition to attending welcoming events, service members will also tour the city and make appearances on TV shows and at sporting events.

Hosted nearly every year since 1984, Fleet Week New York is the city's celebration of the sea services. This event also provides an opportunity for the citizens of New York City and the surrounding tri-state area to meet Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen, as well as see, firsthand, the latest capabilities of today's maritime services.