SAN FRANCISCO (NNS) -- After months of sea duty in support of our nation's military operations at home and abroad, Sailors received a joyous welcome as they sailed into the San Francisco Bay amidst the backdrop of the picturesque Golden Gate Bridge.
San Francisco Mayor Willie L. Brown, Vice Adm. Michael J. McCabe, commander, 3rd Fleet, and former Secretary of State George Schultz were present to officially kick off the 22nd year of Fleet Week festivities, Oct. 9-13.
A parade of ships arrived at the San Francisco piers at Fisherman's Wharf to a patriotic chorus showcasing America's military sea power, which included USS Shiloh (CG 67), USS Mobile Bay (CG 53), USS Thach (FFG 43), USS Hopper (DDG 70) and USCGC Active (WMEC 618).
This year's Fleet Week once again featured the Navy Blue Angels and their aerial acrobatics. Always a crowd favorite, onlookers young and old were captivated by the specially trained pilots, as they performed spectacular stunts and painted the skies with traces of their flight patterns and tactical maneuvers.
Bret Firebaugh of Danville, Calif., brought his wife and three kids ages 2, 5 and 7 to watch the ships sail into port and to see the Blue Angels. "This is the second time we've come to San Francisco Fleet Week, because we like watching the Blue Angels," said Firebaugh. "The kids love it." When asked what he liked most about Fleet Week, five year-old Tyler said, "I like the planes when they fly close."
Just as civilians enjoyed the weekend's events, participating Sailors also enjoyed their time in port. When asked what he plans on doing during his stay in San Francisco, Electronics Warfare Technician 3rd Class John Johnston of Shiloh replied, "I want to visit Alcatraz, ride a cable car and visit the Haight-Ashbury district. I've been looking forward to this port visit for the last couple days and have been getting my things in order to prepare for it."
Sailors with family members in the area were greeted with signs, posters and giddy anticipation, as they looked forward to spending quality time with their loved-one while in port. Accompanied by six other family members, Marie Fuentes of San Francisco waited with bated breath for her nephew, Seaman Cryptologist Andrew Mandac, 21, and a native of San Francisco, to emerge from the quarterdeck of Mobile Bay. "We're very excited see him again," said Fuentes. "We miss him very much."
Sailors enjoyed a warm welcome, as local vendors displayed signs of appreciation in storefronts throughout the city and offered the men and women of the military special discounts and events. Sailors were also greeted with spontaneous expressions of gratitude by civilians as they walked down the Embarcadero during their port call.
"It's important to let the Sailors come to these events to feel appreciated for their efforts," said McCabe.
Various city-wide events during the weekend included a ceremony commemorating Korean War veterans, a Sailor's Liberty festival with local vendors selling souvenirs and gifts, a concert by the popular band Dishwalla, an Italian Heritage Day parade with McCabe as an honored guest, an all-hands barbeque, and public ship tours.
When asked about the future participation of the Navy with San Francisco Fleet Week, McCabe said, "It's only going to be stronger. San Francisco is a great city with great ports and great people."
For related news, visit the Commander 3rd Fleet Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/c3f.