Story by Petty Officer 2nd Class Vaughan Dill, Commander, U.S. 3rd Fleet
SEATTLE – San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock USS Anchorage (LPD 23) and Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Michael Murphy (DDG 112) departed the Port of Seattle Aug. 7, bringing the 68th annual Seafair Fleet Week to a close.
The annual event, which began Aug. 2, kicked off with a parade of U.S. Navy, U.S. Coast Guard and Royal Canadian Navy ships in Elliott Bay and featured Anchorage and Michael Murphy, as well as Hamilton-class high endurance cutter USCGC Mellon (WHEC 717), and the Kingston-class coastal defence vessels HMCS Yellowknife (MM 706) and HMCS Edmonton (MM 703).
Marines from the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit joined Anchorage Sailors in conducting public ship tours at Pier 90, while Sailors aboard Michael Murphy and Coast Guard members aboard Mellon hosted ship tours at Pier 66, and Royal Canadian Navy Sailors hosted tours of Yellowknife and Edmonton at Pier 69. In total, more than 13,000 visitors toured the warships.
Throughout the week, U.S. and Canadian service members engaged with Seattleites through multiple community outreach events, including ship tours, community service projects, environmental educational displays, hospital visits and performances from Navy Band Northwest and the U.S. Navy flight demonstration squadron, the Blue Angels.
“I always look forward to seeing Sailors out on the town this time of year. We are extremely proud of the work they do. As someone who served, I know the sacrifice they make,” said John Ceallaigh, Seattle resident, originally from Kilkenny, Ireland. “I served in my country, so I feel a bond with the service members, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to show them how much we love them.”
Operations Specialist 2nd Class Raul Garza, a native of San Antonio and assigned to Michael Murphy, said everyone he encountered was very friendly, and he was excited to participate in this year’s Seafair.
“I’ve never been a part of this. I’m from Texas, and there’s nothing compared to Seattle Seafair,“ said Garza. “We’re here to show a naval presence and show that we care for the community. It’s a way to show gratitude, and show the respect that they deserve. It’s our way to say thanks.”
Seafair Fleet Week also provided representatives from the Navy, Army, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, Washington State National Guard, as well as federal and state emergency service agencies, with the opportunity to participate in a Defense Support of Civilian Authorities senior leadership seminar.
The seminar was based on several specific emergency response strategies, including operational communications, public health and medical services, mass care services, situational assessment, critical transportation, public information and dissemination strategies, incident action planning, services and resources, mass search and rescue operations, and on-scene security and protection.
“We need partners, and we know Department of Defense assets are some of the best partners,” said Barb Graff, director of emergency management, Seattle Police Department. “The working relationships we have with the Coast Guard, Army, Marine Corps and the Navy is invaluable to us. If we know each other well beforehand, we do a lot better when we really need each other.”
Thousands gathered at Genesee Park and Lake Washington over the weekend with blankets, binoculars and cameras to check out the Boeing Air Show and Albert Lee Appliance Cup. With boat racing on the water, aerobatic performers in the sky, live music and delicious food on land, the Boeing Air show, featuring the U.S. Navy’s premiere flight demonstration team, the Blue Angels, rocked the Seattle area with thunderous jet engines, high speed stunts, and precise, split-second maneuvers that serve as example of the dedication and discipline associated with military service.
The Emerald City has hosted Seafair Fleet Week on its waterfront since 1950, celebrating the courageous men and women who serve our country.