New York City used to be a Navy town. Sailors were a regular sight at the city’s shipyards and bases, and ships made regular port calls. Now the Navy’s footprint is nearly gone, so we really have only Fleet Week New York to look forward to for sailor visits. Below is our annual guide to some of the units that will be in town – be sure to check out the full schedule of events on the official Fleet Week NYC website.
If you can’t make out to all of these spots during the week, join us on Memorial Day for our Fleet Week Harbor Tour with our friends at Classic Harbor Line, where we will cruise past all four docking locations, get a waterside view of the ships aboard a beautiful motor yacht, and discuss the rich naval history of the harbor.
Manhattan Pier 88
- Ships open for visitors May 23–25, 27, 8am–5pm
USS New York (LPD-21), a San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock, is no stranger to NYC. The biggest ship in this year’s armada, New York was commissioned here in 2009. The ship has a special connection to the city because portions of its hull were built with about 7 tons of steel recovered from the World Trade Center site following the September 11 attacks. Its namesake USS New York (BB-34) was built at the Brooklyn Navy Yard in 1914, served in two world wars, and was then used in the nuclear tests at Bikini Atoll in 1946.
And like last year, a Kingston-class coastal defense vessel from the Royal Canadian Navy, HMCS Glace Bay (MM-701), will visit, marking four consecutive years that Canadian ships have joined the fleet, but we may not be seeing any more of these aging workhorses. The Canadian government is replacing the class with the new Harry DeWolf ships, the first of which will begin service in 2020. The Canadian vessels are noticeable because they use a different shade of navy grey paint, giving them an aquamarine hue. We have always wondered why this was, and now we know thanks to the helpful Royal Canadian Navy Twitter feed:
Canadian warships are a warm-tone, greenish grey we call ship-side grey. It’s been used since the 50’s & was selected because it lends our warships a bit of stealth in our maritime environment. Ship-side grey is a lovely shade of grey and we actually hear it’s the new Black!
— Canadian Navy (@RCN_MRC) March 29, 2019
Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
- Ships open for visitors May 23–27, 10am–5pm
USCGC Lawrence O. Lawson (WPC-1120) is a Sentinel-class Fast Response Cutter that will be making a short trip from Cape May, NJ. These ships are fast becoming the backbone of the Coast Guard, with half of the 58 ships on order already in service, but the pace of this replacement may slow. After ordering six ships last year, the service’s latest budget request cuts the buy to just two, as they look for money to fund desperately-needed new icebreakers. Seamanship training will also be on display at this site, as the Naval Academy’s Yard Patrol Boats will be joined by HMCS Oriole, the Canadians’ sailing training vessel.
Brooklyn Cruise Terminal, Red Hook
- Ships open for visitors May 26–27, 8am–5pm
Speaking of budgets, America’s aging cruiser fleet has been in the news lately, because the Navy has told Congress that it would like to decommission six of the 22 Ticonderoga-class ships rather than overhaul them. USS Hue City (CG-66) will be spared the scrapyard, but past Fleet Week participant USS San Jacinto is on the kill list. While the Navy’s proposal would save money, Congress seems less than keen on shrinking the large surface combatant fleet without a plan for what will replace the troublesome cruisers.
While you’re in Red Hook, be sure to stop by the Mary Whalen, a historic taken ship that is permanently moored in the nearby Atlantic Basin. The educational organization that operates it Portside NewYork has a whole host of programs this week, and be sure to visit their Red Hook Water Stories portal before you come to learn more about the neighborhood’s history and nearby things to do.
Staten Island Homeport
- Ships open for visitors May 23–27, 8am–5pm
The Navy may want to put the Ticonderogas behind them, but they can’t get enough of their counterpart Arleigh Burke-class destroyers. After experimenting with the two outrageously-expensive Zumwalt-class destroyers, the Navy went back to the tried-and-true design. USS Jason Dunham (DDG-109) will be this year’s representative, named for a Medal of Honor recipient and Scio, New York native. While serving in Husaybah, Iraq on April 14, 2004, Marine Cpl. Dunham threw himself onto a grenade in order to save his men. He survived the initial explosion but with catastrophic injuries, and was medevaced to the National Naval Medical Center in Maryland, where he died eight days later.
Once again this year, we will get the chance to see a Freedom-class Littoral Combat Ship, USS Milwaukee (LCS-5). Last year’s guide offered a bit of a rant about LCS reliability and usefulness, and again, Milwaukee is no stranger to breakdowns. Shortly after commissioning in 2015, the ship suffered a total engine failure, which required three months of repairs at two different shipyards, and a fix to the software system of the entire class. After visiting Little Rock last year, LCS is an sleek, stealthy looking ship, but it has yet to prove its effectiveness.
The Coast Guard will also be represented in Staten Island, by Fortune-class medium endurance cutter USCGC Campbell (WMEC-909), which underwent repairs at the Brooklyn Navy Yard’s GMD Shipyard in 2017. Alongside will be USCGC Katherine Walker (WLM-552), making the short trip from Bayonne. Named for one of America’s longest-serving lighthouse keepers, the city recently announced they they will be commissioning a statue of Walker, as part of an effort to increase the representation of women in public monuments.
SUNY Maritime College & US Merchant Marine Academy
- Ships closed to the public
For the third year in a row, we’ll be deprived of the opportunity to visit one of our favorite little ships, a Cyclone-class coastal patrol boat. You can read our thoughts from last year’s blog entry about these invaluable ships like USS Tornado, which is stopping by Kings Point. SUNY Maritime College will again get a Spearhead-class Expeditionary Fast Transport, but this time it will be the USNS Burlington (T-EPF-10).