Fleet Week Brings 1.5 Million Visitors to San Francisco
Under clear skies and with calm seas, they came by the hundreds of thousands to San Francisco Fleet Week 2010, the largest such gathering in more than twenty years to take place in the City. The USS Makin Island -- known as the Navy's "Green Ship" for its revolutionary hybrid technology came to San Francisco early to showcase its disaster relief capabilities. In addition, five more 3rd Fleet United States Navy ships, plus two from the Canadian Navy, the US Coast Guard Cutter Active and two historic vessels of WWII and Vietnam era vintage made up the annual Parade of Ships. Over the three day weekend, an estimated 1.5 million visitors thronged to the City with more than 24,000 going onboard the ships berthed for tours. Throughout the week, federal, state and local officials -- civilian and military -- met and shared best practices and did collaborative trainings on how to prepare for a natural disaster or other emergency -- especially vital in the earthquake prone Bay Area. In addition to the serious content, there were softball tournaments between the Navy, Marines and San Francisco Fire and Police Departments, ten free concerts by the 1st Division Marine Band including a "band challenge" with area high schools and a greatly expanded Fleet Week / Italian Heritage Day Parade and -- of course -- the aerial artistry of the "Blue Angels."
"San Francisco rolled out the red carpet for our men and women in uniform," said San Francisco Fleet Week Chairman Major General J. Michael Myatt. "This year's Fleet Week not only introduced our theme of humanitarian assistance and emergency preparedness, but we did what we were asked to do: we brought the Fleet back into Fleet Week. This was the perfect intro to next year's continuation of emergency preparedness and the celebration of the centennial of naval aviation."
On January 18, 1911, for the first time in history a plane was launched from the deck of a ship, the USS Pennsylvania, here in the San Francisco Bay. Next year's Fleet Week celebration will be the culmination of that centennial observance. San Francisco and Fleet Week share a long and storied history that originated in 1908 with the arrival of the "Great White Fleet" to the Bay during their round-the-world 14-month-long voyage. Over the years, millions more San Franciscans have welcomed the United States Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard making its Fleet Week one of the City's most treasured traditions. Under the leadership of then Mayor Dianne Feinstein, the modern Fleet Week tradition began in 1981, honoring the dedicated men and women of the Armed Forces and their colleagues.
The San Francisco Fleet Week Association is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to honor the dedication to duty and sacrifices of the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces and to conduct and offer disaster preparedness training. Its honorary Co-Chairpersons are United States Senator Dianne Feinstein and former Secretary of State George P. Shultz.