In adherence to this year’s Fleetweek, I was able to do a by now almost regular activity: Checking out one of the boats docking at Pier 92. A couple of years ago I had been aboard the shining and larger USS Wasp. This year the Navy was allowing visitors to explore the USS San Antonio, hailing all the way from – you guessed it – San Antonio, Texas.
It typically holds a crew of 360 Sailors and 3 Marines. Since being in service starting 2013, the USS San Antonio has been to Spain (short layover), Greece, Qatar, Bahrain, and Jordan – to name a few. It has been mainly used for service deployments in the Arabian Golf. It is also designed for 21st century expeditionary forces. I was really impressed by the recycling vibes I got when standing in line. How amazing that the Navy uses a ton of plastic bottles each day but actually cares to recycle them! Kudos to the friendly sailor who helped me answer a few question and gave me a poster at the end of her environment-oriented speech.
So two short days ago I got to check out what it looks like on deck of this little wonder ship. After waiting for an hour, I was finally led past tanks, machine guns and some family-oriented stations. It seems that even though each ship is built differently, almost the exact same stations are built up every time for Fleetweek. It’s great, it makes me feel like I know what I am getting myself into…
On top, visitors were able to walk into a 25-person-helicopter, which was fun to look at. Even though it reminded me a little bit of the USS Wasp, it was built entirely different and made for a nice change from the other boats.
More ships can usually be seen in Staten Island, but for some reason that is simply out of my way, especially on a Sunday or holiday Monday commute. I therefore took a bunch of pictures and selfies with the crew and had a blast while exploring.
Afterwards, I made my way to Times Square, where once again events were being held. They had even put a tank there for tourists to climb around on.
Fleetweek was fun this year again. I can never get over the positive vibe that this city starts to inhale once sailors, marines, and other servicemen swarm into the city. Everyone is ecstatic, it’s a three-day-weekend, and you will hardly find anyone in a bad mood. It’s thrilling and contagious to be taken in by the spirit surrounding the Big Apple. I am happy that I was able to be part of Fleetweek in 2015 once again!