Tomorrow is the first day of Fleet Week 2014 in NYC, and the first Fleet Week in two years.
WELCOME BACK SAILORS!
The first Fleet week I ever went to was in 1990, and I got to visit the USS John F. Kennedy. The ship was so big I could look down onto the deck of the intrepid, some 20 feet below and two piers over. I have pictures somewhere; maybe I’ll post them next year. Since they are not digital, I’ll have to find them, scan them, and organize them first.
The JFK at dock.
I’ve been to many since then, and visited many ships. During one of them, the USS Tarawa was there, maybe in ’92 or ’9. It was sort of like a homecoming for me as I had spent the night on the USS Iwo Jima in 1982 as part of a joint Army-Navy exercise. They are the same class of “Helio Assault Ships,” as the Navy likes to call them. She was 12 miles at sea and we flew the big CH-53’s out to her and landed on her deck in heavy seas. Pretty scary, but fun.
The USS Tarawa.
In the 90’s I worked at a shoe store on 55th Street, and would call in sick to go to the parade of ships, which is always on the Wednesday before Memorial Day.
One year I got busted, since it was a hot sunny day and my face got sunburned. The next year I put on a ton of SPF 70 sunscreen, so much that my face was all white when I came home.
I love Fleet Week, I love seeing the ships, the planes, the gear, talking to the kids out there defending the country.
I’ve visited some of the guided Missile Frigates; those are pretty impressive. There won’t be anymore nuclear powered boats, though; the City Council put an end to that in the late 90’s. I did get to visit the USS Theodore Roosevelt though, before the stupid ban. Do they think the thing will blow up in the harbor?
My favorite part is the flyover, which doesn’t always happen due to the weather. The earliest fleet weeks featured F-14 Tomcats flying over the river, and I’m lucky to have seen them, in the air and on the decks.
These are F/A 18’s from 2 years ago.
I have Ospreys somewhere, my iPhoto was damaged on my old MacBook Pro but one day I’ll find them. The most impressive thing about the Osprey (besides the cost) was how quiet they were when they flew over, you almost couldn’t hear their engines.
You can hear CH-53’s, though. Blackhawks (or Seahawks in this case) are also very loud, but the loudest plane I ever heard at Fleet week was the AV-8 Harrier.
This guy was out in the river the last time, I envy his viewpoint.
It was probably the ’97 or ’98 Fleet Week, but they did a Harrier demonstration over the Intrepid and it was deafening to watch, even though the plane was halfway between the Manhattan and Jersey shores.
I’d seen a Harrier fly before, on the same Army-Navy exercise I mentioned before.
We spent a night on Camp Lejeune, SC after jumping in from Ft. Bragg. We walked till midnight, when the Marines led us to some Quonset huts where we would spend the rest of the night.
In the morning a deafening roar woke us all up, we all ran out to see what was making the noise.
It was an AV-8 Harrier on the tarmac not 50 yards from our Quonset huts, practicing vertical take off and landing. The Marines were having their little joke.
But I was thrilled, to see this marvelous plane close up and personal.
I know I won’t be anywhere near as close tomorrow, and providing it doesn’t rain I’ll see some planes.
The last Fleet Week in 2011 featured the Red Arrows from Canada:
I’m hoping tomorrow will bring some surprises.