SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- San Diego Sailors and Marines participated in Gator Week hosted by Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 3, May 31 through June 4.
Gator Week serves as an opportunity to come together as a collective amphibious force in an effort to build camaraderie, honor the Gator Navy heritage and promote a positive tone of the force.
"Gator Week showcases the talents and esprit de corps of our Navy and Marine Corps team, while presenting the pride, professionalism and value of San Diego's amphibious fleet," said Rear Adm. Daniel "Dano" Fillion, commander, ESG-3.
Sailors and Marines participated in a myriad of friendly competitions throughout the week. Events included various sporting and cooking competitions, damage control olympics, seamanship, cake and centerpiece decorating, and a photo contest.
"I was able to compete with my friends [throughout the week] doing good things that we like to do," said Airman Bryan Conley, assigned USS Makin Island (LHD 8), who participated in the PRT pro and the 5k run. "It was nice to be able to represent my ship."
The week concluded with the 2016 Gator Ball at the Sheraton San Diego Hotel and Marina. The ball began with a social hour followed by a formal ceremony and catered dinner.
This year's guest speaker was actor Titus Welliver, who shared his appreciation for the Navy and Marine Corps team. He also thanked all the Sailors, Marines and loved ones in the room who continue to make sacrifices every day in order to support and defend our nation.
"I've done some historical military dramas and roles," said Welliver. "None of that holds a candle to the teamwork I see in your blue-green team, your Gator Navy. It circles around me and my family and the American dream."
Amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2) was announced as the winning command of the Gator Week competitions at the ball.
"Gator Week is important because it complements our heritage, and it shows the unity and effort it requires to execute our mission," said Capt. Brian Quin, commanding officer of Essex. "Winning [this year's competition] reflects how the Iron Gators on Essex set the conditions for success and execute with precision and style. That's the Iron Gator way."
Essex will display the Gator Week trophy for one year until the next Gator Week is announced.
For more information, visit www.navy.mil, www.facebook.com/usnavy, or www.twitter.com/usnavy.
For more news from Expeditionary Strike Group 3, visit www.navy.mil/local/esg3/.