San Francisco’s Fleet Week celebrates sea service traditions

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With contributions from Coast Guard District 11 Public Affairs .

San Francisco Italian Heritage Parade
Members of the Coast Guard honor platoon march toward Washington Square during the Italian Heritage Parade. This year's Fleet Week took place from October 7-12. Coast Guard photo by PA3 Erik Swanson.

Originating from President Theodore Roosevelt’s “Great White Fleet” in 1907, where 16 battleships circumnavigated the globe in 14 months, Fleet Week celebrates and honors the traditions of our sea services.

Center point buoy drop
The crew from CGC George Cobb, a 175-foot buoy tender, loads the center point buoy on to the deck of the cutter for Fleet Week 2010. Coast Guard photo by PA3 Pamela Manns.

The first Fleet Week was held in San Diego, Calif., in 1935, and due to it’s success in honoring our nation’s rich maritime traditions, cities across the country hold annual Fleet Week celebrations. While the Coast Guard’s role in Fleet Week varies from year to year, it is an opportunity to showcase our operational capabilities and interact with the community we serve.

This year, Coast Guard involvement included the Cutter Active in the Parade of Ships, a search-and-rescue demonstration with an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter and the Cutter George Cobb dropping the center point buoy for the Blue Angels air show over San Francisco Bay. Coast Guard law enforcement and Auxiliary crews also patrolled passenger ferries and conducted pier side safety and security inspections as well as providing security to spectators on the water.

Adding to the traditions of Fleet Week 2010, two Coast Guardsmen, Petty Officer Ever Nahum Bonilla and Seaman Benjamin Eschenbach, and six other military members, were sworn in as naturalized U.S. citizens aboard the USS Pinckney.

Fleet Week Search and Rescue demonstration
A Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter, from Air Station San Francisco, hovers while the crew prepares to perform a search and rescue demonstration near Crissy Field. Coast Guard photo by PA3 Erik Swanson.

“Fleet Week honors the dedication to duty and sacrifices of the men and women of the sea services, past and present,” said Capt. Cynthia L. Stowe, commander of Coast Guard Sector San Francisco. “Coast Guardsmen, Sailors and Marines are woven into the fabric of the Northern California community. We are dedicated to serving maritime safety and security and actively working together to enhance the quality of life in the Bay Area.”

More than one million people flock to San Francisco’s waterfront every year for Fleet Week events including parades, military assets and air shows, usually featuring the Navy’s Blue Angels.

The largest military branch in the Bay Area, the Coast Guard has more than 4,000 members serving in a variety of missions, including search and rescue, maritime law enforcement, inspections, aids-to-navigation, port security, illegal drug interdiction and environmental protection.

Naturalization ceremony
Eight members of the United States military, including Petty Officer Ever Nahum Bonilla (right) and Seaman Benjamin Eschenbach, became naturalized citizens aboard the USS Pinckney as part of San Francisco's annual Fleet Week celebration. Coast Guard photo by PA1 Rachel Polish.

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