The U.S. Navy’s Parade of Ships crossed into New York Harbor on Wednesday, kicking off the city’s annual Fleet Week against the backdrop of terrorism worries and naval saber-rattling off the Korean Peninsula. The event, held annually in New York since 1982 but tracing its heritage back to the victory parades of the Spanish-American War in 1898, draws thousands of sailors and visitors every year to the Big Apple.
The event comes despite terror fears after the bombing of Ariana Grande’s concert in Manchester in Great Britain on Monday. New York City’s Police Department has deployed extra forces at strategic transit locations throughout the city.
Fleet Week brings multiple warships to the New York Harbor and opens them to public viewing. This year, the Navy will allow general visitation of its docked ships from Wednesday to Sunday from 8 a.m. to 5. p.m. at various sites around the city, including Pier 88 and 92 in Manhattan, the Homeport Pier in Staten Island, and the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal in Red Hook, Brooklyn.
This year’s lineup includes the USS Kearsarge, an amphibious assault warship, that will be located at Pier 88. Easily mistaken for a small aircraft carrier, the USS Kearsarge took part in the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 as a support ship off the coast of Kuwait. Additionally, the USS San Jacinto, a Ticonderoga missile cruiser, will be docked at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal. The USS San Jacinto fired the opening shots of Operation Desert Storm in 1991 and helped support anti-piracy operations off the coast of Yemen and Somalia, most notably freeing hostages held by Somali pirates in 2010.
The Parade of Ships began at 9 a.m. EST, with the fleet passing under the Verrazano Bridge, paying tribute at the 9/11 Memorial and then peeling off to their respective piers.
This is the first Fleet Week of the Donald Trump presidency. Trump has proposed an increase in naval readiness, calling for an increase in naval power to 350 ships, bringing it back to its post-Cold War levels. He also wants to build two extra aircraft carriers, bringing the total fleet size to 12. This vastly outweighs the rest of the world’s carrier capability. With 18 aircraft carriers in the global total, the United States makes up a commanding proportion of the world’s carrier fleet. The next largest national carrier fleet is Italy, which has two. Russia, China, and France all have a single carrier each.
While New York City’s docks aren’t large enough to accommodate a modern carrier, Fleet Week is a demonstration of some of America’s naval prowess, especially in light of a potential conflict with North Korea. Two carriers, the USS Carl Vinson and the USS Ronald Reagan, are now both within striking distance of the rogue country, as reported by Business Insider. Regular North Korea missile tests have provoked the United States into the deployment of a large naval force off the coast, although this has yet to be matched by a ground force build up on the peninsula itself.
Guests hoping to visit the fleet this week should expect long lines and plenty of security, as well as rainy weather and possible thunderstorms on Friday. Temperatures aren’t meant to soar as they did last week, but an emergency umbrella or poncho is recommended, especially on Friday.
Touring ships aren’t the only activities available during Fleet Week. Navy divers will visit Times Square, the Coast Guard will conduct silent drills, and the Navy will hold recruitment events throughout their stay in New York. The Navy encourages visitors to take selfies with sailors as part of their civilian outreach program.
[Featured Image by Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images]