For Fleet Week, a growing wave of interest
To celebrate the city’s 20th Fleet Week, Staten Islanders will open their arms to thousands of visiting sailors, Marines and members of the Coast Guard. It starts on Wednesday with the Parade of Ships at 8:30 a.m. Seven vessels, led by the USS Wasp, an amphibious assault ship carrying aircraft, will cross under the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge to be welcomed into New York Harbor.
<A href=”http://ads.silive.com/RealMedia/ads/click_nx.ads/www.silive.com/xml/story/si_advance/n/ntop/@StoryAd?x”><IMG src=”http://ads.silive.com/RealMedia/ads/adstream_nx.ads/www.silive.com/xml/story/si_advance/n/ntop/@StoryAd?x”></A> During Fleet Week, the Wasp will be berthed in Manhattan, but the six other ships will all be docked at the old Navy home port in Stapleton.
“We are terribly excited. It’s a wonderful event and we want to do it big this year,” said Donna Cutugno, president of the Staten Island Fleet Week.
Ms. Cutugno said sign-ups for special tours of the vessels for schools and veterans’ groups are up this year by 30 percent. “We had 38,000 visitors to Staten Island last year so we are expecting a lot more this year.”
According to Lt. Jonathan Blyth, a Navy spokesman: “What makes this even more special for the residents of Staten Island is that most of the ships will be located at Stapleton pier. As you may be aware, due to construction on the Manhattan waterfront, berth availability for Navy ships was limited this year.”
The ships to be docked on Staten Island are the USS Hue City, a guided missile carrier; USS Winston Churchill, a guided missile destroyer; USS Jacinto, a guided missile cruiser; USS Oscar Austin, a guided missile frigate; USS Steven Groves, a frigate; and USCG Katherine Walker, a Coast Guard cutter.
For Islanders looking to view the parade of ships as they arrive in the harbor, the best spots are Arthur Von Breisen Park, the Buono Beach, Front Street. Coast Guard New York overlooks and the St. George Fishing Pier.
The parade may be joined by several Navy and Marine Corps aircraft if the weather is good.
After sailing under the Verrazano, the ships will proceed past the Statue of Liberty, paying their respects to those who died on Sept. 11, 2001. The USS Wasp will offer a gun salute as it passes Fort Hamilton in Brooklyn.
The vessels will travel into the Hudson River, moving toward the George Washington Bridge.
The Wasp will proceed to Pier 90 at 50th Street and 12th Avenue in Manhattan.
<A href=”http://ads.silive.com/RealMedia/ads/click_nx.ads/www.silive.com/xml/story/si_advance/n/ntop/@StoryAd?x”><IMG src=”http://ads.silive.com/RealMedia/ads/adstream_nx.ads/www.silive.com/xml/story/si_advance/n/ntop/@StoryAd?x”></A> The other six ships will turn back down the Hudson River and berth at the Stapleton home port.
All of the ships will be docked by 11:30 a.m.
“It’s really one of the best events. We are all excited when we see them come off the ship,” said Ms. Cutugno of the sailors, Marines and Coast Guard crew members.
Throughout the week, visitors to the home port can drop in on the Coast Guard Maritime Safety and Security Team of New York which will discuss their job and mission as well as showcase a Homeland Security Response Boat.
They can also view the live action ride flight-simulated adventure — aboard one of the fastest fighter jets in the world — the “F/A-18 Carrier Experience.”
Live music and dance performances are scheduled every day at the home port during Fleet Week.
This year will see the return of an on-site Internet cafe free for military members to access the Web or phone home to talk to relatives.
The annual Adopt-A-Sailor program will have crew members spend the day with local families as well as corporate and business sponsors — some adopting as many as 100 sailors at a time — to offer them lunch and other activities. In addition, several veterans’ groups will be sponsoring luncheons hosting naval officers as guests.
But the sailors won’t be all take and no give.
Officers will be involved in community projects such as clean-ups at South Beach; Jennifer Schweiger Adaptive Playground at Graniteville Park; Friends of Abandoned Cemeteries; Pouch Camp and various parks on the Island.
There will also be visits to Richmond University Medical Center and Staten Island University Hospital.
Kiawana Rich is a news reporter for the Advance. She may be reached at email@example.com.
The Fleet Week schedule
* Kickoff welcoming reception for Parade of Ships: May 23, 8:30 a.m., at the Stapleton home port. By invitation only * Public tours: May 24-29 from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m.; then 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. * School Tours: May 24, 25, and 29, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. * Tours for Veterans/First Responders: May 26, 27, and 28, from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. * Memorial Day Tours, General Public: 8 a.m. to 9 a.m., then 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. * May 24: 1 to 3 p.m., visitors to Clove Lakes Park can see a helicopter demonstration followed by displays of equipment used by the Marine Corps. For kids, there will be a camouflage face-painting station * May 25: 11 a.m., Blessing of the Fleet, open to the public, at the home port * May 26: 6:30 p.m., Sunset Parade. By invitation only. Naval officers will perform their maneuvers at sunset. During the event, organizers will host their Annual Splash Awards giving out three awards for community service * Ships to be docked at the Stapleton home port: the USS Hue City, guided missile carrier; USS Winston Churchill, guided missile destroyer; USS Jacinto, guided missile cruiser; USS Oscar Austin, guided missile frigate; USS Steven Groves, frigate, and USCG Katherine Walker, Coast Guard cutter * Visitors to the home port will find information booths offering maps and other information. The public can also visit http://www.fleetweek.navy.mil. for more information * Volunteers are still needed to man the booths. To volunteer, phone Julie Owen at 718-948-5560; to make reservations for special tours, phone Vito Giobbie at 718-698-3443
By KIAWANA RICH