Fleet Week

Katherine Achterman
Contributing Writer

Throughout the city, San Franciscans took in the annual sight of the U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels, an elite fleet of aircraft that visit the Bay Area during Fleet Week.

The weeklong event, which occurred from October 5-12, offered events ranging from air shows, to ship tours, to the eponymous Fleet Fest, which brings “over 900 sailors and ‘coasties’ to the Dogpatch neighborhood,” according to the official website.

The Blue Angels are just one of a multitude of military and historical events available during Fleet Week. The Angels, a flight squadron that tours the country demonstrating the prowess of the US Navy, was formed in 1946. The fleet of 6 aircraft reach speeds of roughly 700 miles per hours, just under Mach 1. The planes that fly in said demonstrations are in fact combat ready, save for a few minor changes that make them safer to fly in civilian areas.

“Fighter jets and military grade boats sitting in the harbor, looking intimidating, are my favorite part of Fleet Week,” said senior Kyle Jacobson, “I love the display of crazy engineering. I grew up in Northern Calif., so I grew up seeing the Blue Angels a lot.”

Fleet Week took place in two separate locations: the first, Marina Green, where the Marina Green Festival and Humanitarian Village are located. This Northern ocean-side pier is traditionally packed with tens of thousands of attendees, who flock to the “interactive demonstration of US Military and Civil capabilities in responding to a disaster,” again according to the official website.

Sponsored by the Center for Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Response, participants were encouraged to delve deeper into the four themes of the event: Mass Care and Shelter, Power and Utilities, Community Response and Rescue, and Environmental Management and Decontamination. Beyond that, city-dwellers and tourists alike gathered to eat food, watch the air shows, and meet sailors. Marina Green is also a prime location to watch the parade of ships as they sail under the Golden Gate Bridge and beyond, led by the San Francisco Fire Department fireboat guardian.

The second Fleet Week location, Pier 80 in Bayview, allowed attendees to tour the actual ships, including the USS Somerset, the USS Stockdale, the USS Coronado, and the USCGC Boutwell. Participants who made the trek to this south-city pier were also rewarded with live music and Off the Grid food trucks. The general atmosphere on Friday evening seemed to be one of camaraderie and celebration.

Senior politics major Ryland Stevenson, who attended for his third year in a row, said his experience was “getting better and better.” Stevenson, from Manhattan, grew up attending New York City’s Fleet Week as a child. He said the California version differs in that it has a more relaxed and celebratory atmosphere: “New York is more patriotic, and more touristy. Everything is a little more formal.”

San Francisco Fleet Week, which started in 1981, is a just a few years older than the East Coast version, which commenced in 1984.

For more information: Fleetweeksf.org

Pier 80,
San Francisco, CA 94124

Marina Green
Marina Boulevard
San Francisco, CA 94123

Photo courtesy of Jesus-Baños/Foghorn


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