Fleet Week Begins in Fort Lauderdale
On Monday, Fort Lauderdale, Florida welcomed the amphib USS Kearsarge, the Freedom-class LCS USS Detroit and three Coast Guard vessels for the city's 2018 Fleet Week.
“For us it’s a great opportunity to show what we do to the community. We want to strengthen those ties that we have with the American people by bringing the ships to a port like this,” said Rear Adm. Brad Skillman, speaking to local media. “If they need a playground built, we’ll build a playground. They need things painted or repaired, we’ll do that. It’s just essentially, we’ll give back to the communities that we come to.”
Over the course of the week, hundreds of marines and sailors from the Kearsarge will fan out across the community to participate in service projects, attend events and enjoy their shore leave. "I can't wait to give back to the community that helped raise me and shape me into the man I am today," said Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Chris Roys, a Fort Lauderdale native who is serving aboard the Kearsarge.
Kearsarge's crew man the rails as she enters Fort Lauderdale (USN)
USS Detroit enters Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades / Twitter)
The public also had the opportunity to register for a vessel tour. According to Broward Navy Days, over 30,000 people tried to sign up within the first hour, and the list quickly closed. “This year registration opened up and within 22 minutes all 8,400 slots were gone, so the ticket is hotter than 'Hamilton,'” spokeswoman Mary Anne Gray told local media.
Kearsarge may be best known for her role in the response to Hurricane Maria last year, when her sailors and embarked elements of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit conducted weeks of round-the-clock flights in support of the relief effort in Puerto Rico. Last week, she continued her record of service during the New Orlean Fleet Week, providing 600 sailors and marines for revitalization, cleanup and preservation projects.
Marines from the Kearsarge perform community service during New Orleans Fleet Week (USN)